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Resources for Coronavirus Outbreak

Please note:  We are aware of the recent updates by the CDC and the Florida governor. At this time, we are still requiring masks and social distancing by everyone in attendance at our in-person events regardless of their vaccine status.

We appreciate your support as we continue to work together to ensure the safety and well-being of our entire congregation.

Services

 

Weekday Services:
Monday-Friday----  7:30AM (IN PERSON)
Monday-Thursday- 7:30PM (IN PERSON AT DPJCC)
Sunday--------------  9:00AM (IN PERSON)
Sunday--------------  9:30AM (IN PERSON AT DPJCC)

Shabbat Services:
Have resumed In Person

Messages

10/07/2021 Important Minyan Schedule Update

Starting Monday, October 18th, Morning Minyan will take place in-person at B'nai Aviv and will no longer be streamed on Zoom. Evening Minyan will still occur on Zoom as previously scheduled. The Morning Minyan Schedule will take place as follows: Monday through Friday at 7:30 am and Sunday at 9:00 am. Saturday Morning Services will occur at 9:15 am as previously scheduled. We look forward to seeing you!

07/29/2021 Newly Updated Mask Policy

Dear B'nai Aviv Families,

We hope everyone is enjoying their summer! As we stated in the correspondence earlier this month, our Covid-19 Task Force is continually monitoring the CDC guidelines as well as the infection rates in our local area. New data has prompted our Task Force to update our mask policy once again. The Executive Board has approved new protocols for mask requirements. Starting Friday, July 30, 2021, masks will be mandatory inside the building.

The Covid-19 Task Force will continue to monitor the updates and will recommend changes if necessary.

If you have any questions or need to need further information, please reach out to us.

Scott Daub                                                 Shai Habosha
President                                                    Executive Director

07/15/2021 Updated Mask Policy

Dear B'nai Aviv Families,

We hope everyone is enjoying their summer! After much consideration, review of CDC guidelines, and recommendation from our Covid-19 Task Force, our Board of Directors has approved new protocols for mask requirements. Starting Thursday July 15, 2021, masks will be optional inside the building and sanctuary for all those that are fully vaccinated, except during camp ECEC, religious school and youth group activities. When these programs are in session, masks will be required by all in the common areas. Those who have not been vaccinated must wear a mask at all times, no exceptions.

The Covid-19 Task Force will continue to monitor the updates and will make changes if necessary.

Sincerely,

Scott Daub                                                 Shai Habosha
President                                                    Executive Director

07/07/21: The Future of Live-Streaming at B'nai Aviv:

My friends, one year ago I drafted a lengthy letter to the congregation outlining drastic changes to be implemented to safeguard our B’nai Aviv community in the wake of Covid. In it, I noted that one of the few certainties of the pandemic was the survival of the Jewish People. It was Mark Twain who famously wondered, “All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but the Jew remains. What is the secret of the Jew’s immortality?" And while no single answer satisfies the question, the question itself is reassuring. The Jewish People have withstood, exile, inquisition, pogrom, genocide…and I reassured you that the Jewish People would indeed survive Covid-19 just as the Jewish People survived the other great pandemics of history.

Yet, this general guarantee about the immortality of the Jewish People does not promise that we, or our children, or our grandchildren will survive as Jews. During our 3000 year history, entire Jewish communities have disappeared for a variety of reasons. Today is no different. When Jews vanish from our midst today, however, most our doing so through active assimilation or just plain apathy. That is where the synagogue comes into play. We have no guarantees that any specific family or community will remain Jewish forever, only that somewhere in this world, and for all time, there will be descendants of Avraham reading the Torah given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and our role as a synagogue is to do our best to ensure that our congregants and their children are amongst those who still count themselves as Jews. One year ago, as the pandemic raged with no end in sight, I was not worried about the survival of the Jewish People. I was however, concerned about the survival of our B’nai Aviv community.

Prior to the pandemic, we had created something substantive, serious, spiritual, sentimental, and unambiguously Jewish. At B’nai Aviv, Jewish Identity was not a fashionable piece of clothing we kept tucked away in a drawer and pulled out only when needed. At B’nai Aviv, the “main course” wasn’t schtick that we sprinkled with a little Jewish seasoning, so that a fragrance of Yiddishkeit masked an otherwise secular entrée. At B’nai Aviv, we didn’t flaunt ritual objects or use Torah as a prop to convey an impression of authenticity and tradition. B’nai Aviv was the linchpin between the Jewish past, the Jewish present, the Jewish future, and Gd simultaneously, and each of us took this very seriously.

For many, B’nai Aviv was the primary point of contact for all things Jewish. Last year, we made many changes in hopes our B’nai Aviv community would not succumb to unprecedented times when that point of contact was eliminated physically. We needed to simulate the sacredness of what we’d built to the best of our ability, and like the rest of the world, we moved ourselves into the virtual realm. Some aspects of this were convenient and perhaps even improved, but others were controversial, most specifically live streaming our Shabbat and Yom Tov services.

The decision was not made lightly. As opposed to other approaches that tried to explain how to legitimately use electronics in an alternative or non-routine way that would comport with upholding the sanctity of Shabbat, our approach was to call live-streaming on Shabbat what it is, a transgression of Jewish Law, and to permit it nonetheless because the survival of our B’nai Aviv community depended on it. I introduced you to a complicated principle developed in the Talmud called an Aveira L’Shem Shamayim-a transgression of the sake of heaven. The principle appears in Masechet Nazir 23b and is anchored in the biblical story of Yael (see Judges 5:24), who is surprisingly considered more blessed than our Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. To summarize, the reason Yael’s blessings are elevated is because she commits an Aveira L’Shem Shemyaim by engaging in the prohibited act of cohabitating with Sisera for the sole purpose of killing him, consequently saving the Jewish People. In our case, the preservation of life, or Pikuah Nefesh, was not imminently at stake. As noted, the only certainty of the Covid era is that the Jewish People will survive. . . But the Jewish Identities of so many in our community was at stake! I advocated for this specific transgression of Shabbat and holidays so that we could continue to strengthen and enrich the Jewish Identities of those who call B’nai Aviv home . . . As Maimonides concluded in his 12th century corpus of Jewish Law, "Desecrate one Sabbath for a person's sake so that that person will keep many Sabbaths.” In other words, there was precedent for advocating a transgression of halacha if it would retain B’nai Aviv as the community’s Jewish point of contact, eventually bringing people closer to Torah and Jewish Life when the pandemic made it nearly impossible, and that is what B’nai Aviv did . . .

As noted a year ago, this was not a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but a temporary solution to a temporary problem, and while Covid looks to be a part of our lives for some time, we are in a drastically different place today than we were. Our 4th Commandment requires that we remember and guard the Shabbat and keep it holy and separate from the rest of the week. Until 2020, we used technology for every single other thing, but we did not use it on Shabbat. The survival of B’nai Aviv required us to alter this, but we have reached a point in time where our community can gather in safety and holiness, without the need to live-stream services, thus sanctifying the Shabbat and differentiating it from the other days of the week, as the Torah intends.

Beginning July 10, B’nai Aviv will no longer live stream Shabbat and Yom Tov services. This decision, too, was not made lightly, and required weeks of rumination, study, and conversation with colleagues and congregants alike. Our security camera, which runs 24/7, will remain on, allowing families celebrating life cycle events to pull segments of services, as was possible prior to 2020. Most importantly, live streaming will be utilized for the High Holy Days. While most feel comfortable at this point coming to Shabbat services with a few hundred people, there may be reticence with regards to our High Holy Day attendance numbers. For that reason, live streaming will be available this year for congregants uncomfortable being with us when our sanctuary, ballroom, and multi-purpose room are once again opened.

Last year, we waded together into uncharted waters, shifting our approach to both secular and religious life to survive. Today, we wade together back onto the shores of normalcy. B’nai Aviv was one of the first Conservative synagogues in the country to open its doors for in-person services. Our pre-school, summer camp, youth groups and religious services and programs have thrived safely in-person throughout the duration of the pandemic. As a nation we are, as the president stated, close to declaring our independence from this terrible virus. Returning to fully in-person Shabbat and Yom Tov services is our next step. I look forward to davening with you all in our sanctuary at some point soon.

B’Shalom

Rabbi Adam Watstein

06/14/21:  As of Shabbat on June 17 & 18, we no longer require you to register online for services. We still require a mask and social distancing at all in-person activities. In-person daily services will resume at a later date.

04/07/21: Addendum to Travel and Other Activities:

Congregants/Guests Who Have Returned from Travel / Arrived in Florida
In adherence with recent CDC updates, we are currently eliminating the quarantine requirement for all fully vaccinated adults (two weeks post second vaccine dose) who have recently traveled via domestic air travel. We will require proof of vaccination and ask that a copy of the vaccination card be provided to the office. (Those who have traveled internationally will still be required to quarantine).

However, to ensure the safety of our entire congregation, and in recognition that we are still not able to vaccinate our youngest members, we still ask that any congregants who participate in activities that may be thought to be risky, be mindful of their actions and the potential impact they may have on others in the congregation.

Having the vaccine does not prevent you from getting Covid. If you may have been exposed, we ask that you refrain from entering the building until sufficient time has passed to ensure that you are not contagious. It is recommended that you remain at home until you are symptom-free for 72 hours (3 full days) without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom altering medicines (e.g., cough suppressants) AND at least ten (10) days have passed since symptoms first appeared AND have a negative COVID-19 PCR Test result before you return to the building. We reserve the right to request proof of test results.

Regardless of travel, if a congregant or guest develops symptoms or tests positive, or has a family member that they are in close contact with who develops symptoms or tests positive, after they have been on our property or in our building, they are asked to notify us immediately so that we can contact trace anyone they may have been in contact with and potentially exposed to the virus.

Clergy performing life cycle events:
The clergy are once again performing in-person weddings and other life-cycle events at their discretion. The clergy will continue to remain an appropriate distance from guests at all times. All in-person guests are also required to wear masks and maintain proper social distance for the duration of all ceremonies whether or not on B’nai Aviv property.

In-person events:
The re-opening task force committee will continue to review our in-person programming and make real-time decisions regarding the safety of these events given covid concerns at that time.

03/25/21 Passover Message from Jamie Cohen

12/07/20: Addendum to Congregant Travel and Activities:

Congregants/Guests Who Have Returned from Travel / Arrived in Florida
To ensure the safety of our congregation, we ask that any congregants who travel or participate in activities that may be thought to be risky, be mindful of their actions and the potential impact they may have on others in the congregation. If you may have been exposed, we ask that you refrain from entering the building until sufficient time has passed to ensure that you are not contagious. It is recommended that they remain at home until they are symptom-free for 72 hours (3 full days) without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom altering medicines (e.g., cough suppressants) AND at least ten (10) days have passed since symptoms first appeared AND have a negative COVID-19 PCR Test result before they return to the building.

Congregants and guests who wish to participate in our on-site programming and services, and who have recently returned from travel, or have recently arrived in the state of Florida, will be required to either quarantine for 10 days, or obtain a COVID-19 PCR Test no earlier than 5 days after travel, before entering our facility.

If a COVID-19 PCR Test is performed, the congregant or guest will only be able to enter our facility upon receipt of a negative test result. If the test yields a positive result, the congregant or guest will not be permitted on-site until 10 days symptom-free without the use of fever reducing or other symptom altering medicines or a negative test result is provided. We reserve the right to request proof of dates of travel.

Regardless of travel, if a congregant or guest develops symptoms or tests positive, or has a family member that they are in close contact with who develops symptoms or tests positive, after they have been on our property or in our building, they are asked to notify us immediately so that we can contact trace anyone they may have been in contact with and potentially exposed to the virus.

B’nai Aviv only recognizes the use of the PCR test due to the following reasons:

  • The rapid test is significantly LESS sensitive than the PCR test and will always be less accurate than the PCR test.
  • Rapid testing performs best when you have symptoms (because there is more virus around when you have symptoms, so the rapid test is more likely to pick it up).
  • Asymptomatic rapid testing is more likely to be inaccurate.

Clergy performing life cycle events:
The clergy will not perform weddings at this time and reserve the right to revisit this decision after vaccinations locally have begun.

The clergy will continue to perform Bar Mitzvahs, auf rufs and baby namings during services in the sanctuary using the same protocols currently in place for our ritual events. The clergy will remain an appropriate distance from all guests at all times.

The clergy will continue to perform funerals and shivas in outside spaces only. The only exception, at the synagogue’s discretion, will be those funerals to be performed in our sanctuary. All in-person guests are required to wear masks for the duration of the ceremony and while on B’nai Aviv property. Social distancing rules will also apply.

In-person events:
The committee will continue to evaluate real-time events and make decisions as needed at that time. Currently we provide for alternate-side seating in the sanctuary. During times when we have reached a larger attendance the committee will permit the clergy, the Executive Director, or a representative from the board to make the decision to permit seating anywhere so as to provide for maximum distancing between guests.

The committee will also continue to review our in-person programming and make real-time decisions regarding the safety of these events given covid concerns at that time. While every effort will be made to continue to hold events outdoors so as to minimize potential risks, even those may need to be postponed, given current situations.

10/29/20 (updated): Instructions for attending In-Person Shabbat Services

 

Thursday morning minyan will begin at 7:30 am and last approximately 45 minutes.
Friday evening services will begin at 6:30 pm and last approximately 45 minutes.
Shabbat morning services will begin at 9:15 am and will last approximately 2 hours.

We are thrilled to be able to be together for services in the building again but need your help.

Please read the information below. It lists the safety measures required to maintain a safe and responsible environment for our return.

  • At this time, our in-person services are for members and their guests and by advance reservation only.  We are only permitting a limited number of people in the building each day. Please RSVP to attend no later than noon on Wednesday each week. You will also need to sign a waiver.  Links to both the RSVP and Waiver can be found below. Each person must complete their own waiver form.
  • To enter the building:  Only the preschool doors (green awning) will be open for entry.  Please maintain social distancing while walking through the building.
  • Please be prepared to show your photo ID to our security guard.
  • Before you enter the building, a volunteer will take your temperature using a non-contact thermometer. Your temperature must be no higher than 100.4 degrees. 
  • Anyone experiencing fever, sinus pain, cough, fatigue or reduced/altered sense of smell or taste should not attend at this time. If you aren’t feeling well, even without these symptoms, please stay home.
  • Social Distancing of 6 feet will be maintained at all times, including while seated. Family units or people co-habitating may sit together but the distance between these groups from others must be six feet. Seating has been eliminated or marked off, such that each “open” seat will have six feet of space surrounding it. 
  • In order to assist with cleaning needs we are doing alternate side seating for services. On Friday evenings, please sit on the right side of the sanctuary.  On Saturday mornings, please sit on the left side of the sanctuary.
  • We ask that you refrain from hugging, kissing, or handshaking while in the building.
  • A cloth face covering must be worn properly over your nose and mouth at all times while in the building.  It must cover from the bridge of your nose to the bottom of your chin. If you are unable to properly wear a mask for the entire duration of the service, please do not plan on attending.  You will be asked to leave if you are unable to abide by this rule.  Face shields are not a substitute for a mask but may be worn in addition to one.
  • We ask that you do not wear gloves as these pose a higher risk of cross contamination.  
  • Upon entering and exiting the sanctuary, please use hand sanitizer. Please bring your own or feel free to use one of our dispensers. 
  • No Tallisim or Kippot will be able to be provided so we ask that you bring your own. We ask that you refrain from touching the mezuzot.  A symbolic gesture toward them is sufficient at this time.
  • Prayer books that are used should be left on a table in the back of the sanctuary for us to clean and recirculate after 7 days has passed. You are welcome to bring and use your own personal prayer books. If you would like to purchase one, please contact Sol Hettena, our Ritual Director, at 954-384-8265 or by email at Sol@bnaiaviv.org.
  • No beverages, l’chaim club or Kiddush food are able to be provided at the synagogue.  There will also be no congregating permitted in the building after services.  We ask that you return to your cars immediately after services have concluded.
  • Doors to the main restrooms will be left open to maintain social distancing when entering and leaving the restrooms. No restrooms should have more people within them at any time than is consistent with social distancing of six feet between those not residing in a single household.
  • Water fountains have been disabled.  We will not have water available.
  • There is no childcare and no rooms other than the sanctuary are to be entered/used for any purpose.
  • Attendees are asked to proceed directly to their seats and remain there during the entire service. 
  • Older adults, people who have serious underlying medical conditions, and those who are considered high-risk should consider not participating at this time

We know this is a lot of information but it is our intent to create as safe an environment as we can while providing an in-person spiritually fulfilling experience. Please scroll to read the full list of instructions. 
We look forward to seeing you on Shabbat!  If you have any questions about the above guidelines, please contact Lynne Balaban at lynne@bnaiaviv.org

You may bring it with you or email it to the office at lynne@bnaiaviv.org.
 
-----------------------------------

9/15/20: How to prepare your home for the High Holidays

Friends,
With the current pandemic and restrictions on group gatherings, our kitchens have become our classroom, our living rooms are our yoga studios and workout spaces, and the dining room has become our office. For these High Holy Days, we must ask, “Where then, is our sanctuary?” The rabbis asked this same question right after the destruction of the Temple. Without a localized place of worship, how could we pray together? We are the inheritors of their answer: Our home must become our “mikdash m’at,” a miniature sanctuary, a sacred place. As the High Holy Days approach, there is a sense of desperation percolating. Unlike any other year in our lifetimes, we NEED these Holy Days. As we wade into the 7th month of pandemic, our souls our yearning for nourishment, and rolling out of bed to stare at a screen yet again isn’t going to suffice. For Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to have meaning without us physically being together, generating spiritual electricity as 2,000 of us sing our ancient liturgy in harmony, we must actively create a sacred space in our home— a mikdash m’at. These suggestions are meant to help you enhance the High Holy Day experience from home as we virtually congregate together. 1. Choose your prayer space carefully in advance by spending a few moments of individual contemplation/family discussion. Don’t wait for the last minute! 2. Once you have chosen your space, say a blessing or kavannah (“intention”) over it to mark it as your mikdash m’at before the High Holy Day services begin. Suggestions of verses and blessings are below. 3. What chair will you sit on? Put a cushion or festive pillow on it, or drape it with a tallit, special piece of fabric, or scarf. 4. Change where you put your computer from a work space to a contemplative space by covering the desk or table with a white tablecloth, white runner, or white placemat. Consider other decorative elements such as a vase of flowers. 5. Find meaningful objects to enhance your space. On Rosh Hashana include holiday objects like candlesticks and kiddush cup, apples and honey. On Yom Kippur you can place cherished mementoes, family heirlooms, and photos of loved ones to surround you. If you own a shofar, put it where it’s visible. If you have young children or grandchildren, encourage holiday art projects or drawings. 6. If possible, move away from the screen so that you are “watching” more than “manipulating” it. Consider connecting your computer to a TV screen so it feels less like a work device. 7. Try to limit or disconnect auditory distractions. Just as we turn off cell phones before entering our sanctuary at B’nai Aviv, turn off distractions before entering your “sanctuary” at home. 8. DRESS UP. Just as we prepare for synagogue with appropriate clothing, tallit, and kippot, so to should we prepare for this unique holiday experience. Don’t wear pajamas 9. Machzor pickup 10. Take this seriously. Please don’t let the cantor and I pray at you, we encourage you to pray with us…participate. Out loud. Steps 1-9 will help add meaning and context to this unprecedented experience, but without this last step it will fall flat. I will be staring at empty chairs and cardboard popups, but for me it will still be the High Holy Days. You will be staring at a screen, hopefully dressed up…and will still be the HH for you. Wishing you all a Shana Tovah ————————————————————————————— Verses and blessings to help create your sacred space/mikdash m’at: B’Midbar 24:5 How good are your tents, O Jacob, Your sacred places, O Israel! Birkat Habayit (blessing of the home): Let no sorrow come through this gate.Let no trouble come in this dwelling. Let no fright come through this door.Let no conflict come to this section. Let there be blessing and peace in this place. Shemot 20:21 In every place where My name is mentioned, I will come to you and bless you Blessed are You Adonai, who separates between holy and ordinary. Bereishit 28:16 “Surely the LORD is present in this place, and I did not know it!” מַה־טֹּ֥בוּ אֹהָלֶ֖יךָ יַעֲקֹ֑ב מִשְׁכְּנֹתֶ֖יךָ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ בְּזֶה הַשַּׁעַר לֹא יָבוֹא צַעַר בְּזֹאת הַדִּירָה לֹא תָבוֹא צָרָה בְּזֹאת הַדֶּלֶת לֺא תָבוֹא בֶּהָלָה בְּזֹאת הַמַּחְלָקָה לֺא תָבוֹא מַחְלוֺקֶת. בְּזֶה הַמָּקוֺם תְּהִי בְרָכָה וְשָׁלוֺם בְּכָל־הַמָּקוֹם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אַזְכִּ֣יר אֶת־שְׁמִ֔י אָב֥וֹא אֵלֶ֖יךָ וּבֵרַכְתִּֽיךָ ברוּךְ אַתָּה ה', הַמַבְדִּיל בֵּין קֹדֶשׁ לְחוֹל אָכֵן֙ יֵ֣שׁ יְהוָ֔ה בַּמָּק֖וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה וְאָנֹכִ֖י לֹ֥א יָדָֽעְתִּי Rabbi Adam Watstein

7/28/20: Important Message from Rabbi Watstein

Friends,
Survival.  Since the second week of March, nearly every conversation we have had, and every decision we have made, has ultimately been influenced by that word.  When we think about how the subject of survival has invaded our lives during these past months, we see that it does so in a layered way, like concentric circles of concern. 
 
How will I, how will my family, how will my business, how will my hobbies and lifestyle…survive the pandemic? 
 
At the center of this psychological conundrum is our individual survival.  What once was the simplest of tasks now requires logistical preparation and entails risk.  Going to the gas station is for some now an elaborate ritual of figuring out how to access a credit card and manipulate a gas pump without actually touching either! 

The next layer of concern includes our immediate family and those with whom we share a dwelling. Inquiries such as, “What’s for dinner?” were once harmless, and motivated by hunger pangs alone.  No longer.  Now we may stretch our food supply to minimize how often we go to Publix.  Then we wonder whether we should be going to Publix at all. "But, is curbside pickup or take-out safe?  Do we need to remove the food from the containers or wipe down groceries?  Should we be even spending money on take-out now that there is so much economic uncertainty in the world?”  In this second layer of existential concern, survival underscores debates about visiting grandma and grandpa, hiring a babysitter or cleaning service, play dates, sending children to camp or school…

The concentric circles of concern continue, eventually including institutions, hobbies, and cultural staples…Will the public school system survive?  Will sports survive?  Concerts?  Parades?  What about the Hora?   And as our concentric circles expand, magnifying our collective worry about the future, we come to the only certainty during these unprecedented times where the earth literally feels as if it is shifting beneath us. 
 
My friends, our only certainty is that the Jewish People will survive. It is about this subject I reach out to you all today.  
 
It was Mark Twain who famously wondered, “All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?" And while no single answer satisfies the question, the question itself is reassuring.  The Jewish People have withstood, exile, inquisition, pogrom, genocide…And the Jewish People will survive Covid-19 just as the Jewish People survived the other great pandemics of history.  But, this general guarantee about the immortality of the Jewish People does not promise that we, or our children, or our grandchildren will survive as Jews. 

During our 3000 year history, entire Jewish communities have disappeared — beginning with the Ten Tribes, the majority of our people, who vanished forever in the 8th century BCE.  This population reduction continued on throughout the various countries of the Diaspora until this moment in this place, where the majority of Jews vanishing from our midst are doing so through active assimilation or just plain apathy. As tolerance and acceptance of Jews has gone up, Jewish literacy has gone down.  We have no guarantees that any specific family or community will remain Jewish forever, only that somewhere in this world, and for all time, there will be descendants of Avraham reading the Torah given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. It was Professor Salo Baron who calculated in the 1960's that had all Jewish communities of the past survived intact, there would be...in the 1960's...a world Jewish population of 200 million.  That's instead of roughly the 14.6 million Jews of 2020. As the pandemic rages with no end in sight, I am not worried about the survival of the Jewish People. I am however, concerned about the survival of our B’nai Aviv community…not our synagogue, but our B’nai Aviv community.

Our physical structure on Indian Trace houses what makes us a B’nai Aviv family.  Together, we have created something substantive, serious, spiritual, sentimental and unambiguously Jewish. At B’nai Aviv, Jewish identity isn’t a fashionable piece of clothing we keep tucked away in a drawer and pull out only when needed.  At B’nai Aviv, the “main course” isn’t schtick that we sprinkle with a little Jewish seasoning, so that a fragrance of Yiddishkeit masks an otherwise secular entree.   At B’nai Aviv, we don’t flaunt ritual objects or use Torah as a prop in order to convey an impression of authenticity and tradition.  For our community, B’nai Aviv is the lynchpin between the Jewish past, the Jewish present, the Jewish future and Gd simultaneously, and each of us takes this very seriously.  And because we take our Judaism seriously, our children will hopefully take their Judaism seriously, and for many, B’nai Aviv is the primary point of contact for all things Jewish.  My friends, B’nai Aviv must survive and thrive in order to remain that primary Jewish point of contact, providing a healthy, lasting dose of serious Jewish content for the sake of preserving a Jewish future for our congregants.  The Jewish People will undoubtedly be around in 2040.  The question is whether we will have done everything possible to ensure that our children are sitting around a Shabbat table with their children in 2040, and if our B’nai Aviv community succumbs to these unprecedented times, we will have failed those congregants who rely on us in so many ways.


Parenthetically, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards sets halakhic policy for the Conservative Movement as a whole.  Its membership includes twenty-five rabbis who are voting-members. When a question is placed on the agenda, individual members of the Committee will write teshuvot which are discussed by the Committee. Papers are approved when a vote is taken with six or more members voting in favor of the paper. Approved teshuvot represent official halakhic positions of the Conservative movement. Rabbis of a particular community have the authority, though, as marei d'atra, or local religious decisor, to consider the Committee's positions but make their own decisions as conditions warrant. Teshuvot are an invaluable source of learning, but they are not meant to, nor can they, substitute for the opinions of a local rabbi.

As many of you know, the Conservative Movement recently passed a teshuva (responsa) to allow for livestreaming on Shabbat - HERE. The teshuva is ambitious, creative, scholarly, and written with good intent.  While I commend the efforts of my colleagues at the Rabbinical Assembly, I have been, and remain opposed to the notion that streaming services on Shabbat or the High Holy Days is permissible according to Jewish Law.  Our 4th Commandment requires that we remember and guard the Shabbat and keep it holy and separate from the rest of the week. 
 
We use technology for every single other thing in 2020, but we do not - as of this moment at B’nai Aviv - use it on Shabbat.
 
However, beginning on the Shabbat of August 15th, that will change, and B’nai Aviv will begin live-streaming services from an automated, still camera that is currently used for security purposes on Shabbat and the holidays. This decision was not made lightly.  As opposed to other approaches that try to explain how to legitimately use electronics in an alternative or non-routine way that would comport with upholding the sanctity of Shabbat, my approach is to call live-streaming on Shabbat what it is, a transgression of Jewish Law, and to permit it nonetheless because the survival of our B’nai Aviv community as we knew it, and as we hope it remains, depends on it.
 (For those interested in mitigating the use of electronics, please note the relevant sections of the aforementioned CJLS teshuvah or reach out to me personally). 
         
There is a complicated principle developed in the Talmud called an Aveira L’Shem Shamayim-a transgression of the sake of heaven.  The principle appears in Masechet Nazir 23b and is anchored in the biblical story of Yael (see Judges 5:24), who is surprisingly considered more blessed than our Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.  To summarize, the reason Yael’s blessings are elevated is because she commits an Aveira L’Shem Shemyaim by engaging in the prohibited act of cohabitating with Sisera for the sole purpose of killing him, consequently saving the Jewish People.  In our case, the preservation of life, or Pikuah Nefesh, is not imminently at stake.  As noted, the only certainty of the Covid era is that the Jewish People will survive…But the Jewish Identities of so many in our community are at stake!  I am advocating this specific transgression of Shabbat and holidays so that we may continue to strengthen and enrich the Jewish identities of those who call B’nai Aviv home…As Maimonides concluded in the source below "Desecrate one Sabbath for a person's sake so that that person will keep many Sabbaths.”  As you can see from this section of the Mishne Torah, Maimonides’ 12th century corpus of Jewish Law, there is precedent for advocating a transgression of halacha if it will eventually bring people closer to Torah and Jewish Life.  
 

Mishneh Torah, Rebels 2:4
Similarly, if a Jewish Court saw that temporarily it was necessary to nullify a positive commandment or violate a negative commandment in order to bring people at large back to the Jewish faith or to prevent many Jews from transgressing in other matters, they may do what is necessary at that time. To explain by analogy: Just like a doctor may amputate a person's hand or foot so that the person as a whole will live; so, too, at times, the court may rule to temporarily violate some of the commandments so that they will later keep all of them. In this vein, the Sages of the previous generations said: "Desecrate one Sabbath for a person's sake so that that person will keep many Sabbaths."
 
משנה תורה, הלכות ממרים ב׳:ד׳
וְכֵן אִם רָאוּ לְפִי שָׁעָה לְבַטֵּל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה אוֹ לַעֲבֹר עַל מִצְוַת לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה כְּדֵי לְהַחְזִיר רַבִּים לַדָּת אוֹ לְהַצִּיל רַבִּים מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל מִלְּהִכָּשֵׁל בִּדְבָרִים אֲחֵרִים עוֹשִׂין לְפִי מַה שֶּׁצְּרִיכָה הַשָּׁעָה. כְּשֵׁם שֶׁהָרוֹפֵא חוֹתֵךְ יָדוֹ אוֹ רַגְלוֹ שֶׁל זֶה כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּחְיֶה כֻּלּוֹ כָּךְ בֵּית דִּין מוֹרִים בִּזְמַן מִן הַזְּמַנִּים לַעֲבֹר עַל קְצָת מִצְוֹת לְפִי שָׁעָה כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּתְקַיְּמוּ [כֻּלָּם] כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁאָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים חַלֵּל עָלָיו שַׁבָּת אַחַת כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּשְׁמֹר שַׁבָּתוֹת הַרְבֵּה:
 

 
My friends, this is not a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but a temporary solution to a temporary problem.  I pray for the day the pandemic is eradicated, our community can gather in safety and holiness, and we will no longer need to live-stream services, thus sanctifying the Shabbat and differentiating it from the other days of the week, as the Torah intends.  Please note that further communication from the synagogue is forthcoming, and will detail our plans for upcoming Shabbatot and the High Holy Days. 

The staff and clergy will continue to be here for you for support as we venture together into these uncharted waters.  May each of you remain healthy and safe. 
 
Humbly,
Rabbi Adam Watstein

6/17/20 (updated):  Link showing new COVID related signage upon entering the facility 

5/22/20 Important Video Message from B'nai Aviv

5/8/20 Video Message from The Board of Directors

4/5/20 Video Message from Cantor Bill

3/26/20 Message from Food Art (one of our caterers)

Pesach is around the corner and we know that many families take this time to go away to programs and resorts. This year, we will have be spending the seder at home, in an intimate setting without much fanfare- but still requiring a lot of work and preparation.  
Below is the link to our new and updated site which includes beautiful packages for everyone as well as a delectable a la cart menu. Its as easy as adding to cart and enjoying the freedom of letting us cook for you.
 http://pesachatyourdoor.com/

3/24/20  Video Message from Rabbi

3/20/20 Video Message from Jamie Cohen

3/15/20 Message from Rabbi

As many of you know, a recent death in my family brought me to Boston for Shabbat. What should have been a funeral with hundreds of attendees was reduced to family and a handful of close friends on account of our new reality.  We watched each other cry from a distance, never more in need of a physical, consoling embrace.  As we said our last good-byes to a man we admired and loved deeply, we sat apart, abiding by the new directives of social distancing. 

It was counterintuitive, sad, lonely….and entirely necessary.  As Jewish tradition teaches, there is no higher value than the preservation of life, Piku’ach Nefesh. Jewish law, Halacha, is clear: pikuch nefesh doheh et ha-kol, “the saving of life outweighs every other principle in the Torah,” and we are obligated as Jews to err on the side of stringency if even there is a possibility of a threat to life.  By this point, we are all keenly aware of COVID-19 and how it spreads, and we must recognize that facilitating the gathering of individuals is facilitating possible transmission of COVID-19. 

Preventing gatherings within B’nai Aviv is both a Jewish and moral imperative.  Consequently, B’nai Aviv will be suspending all in-person gatherings until further notice.  This includes weekday and Shabbat services, meetings and programs. 

Though we will be physically separated from one another, we cannot think of a time where spiritual connectivity has been more necessary.  Your clergy and synagogue staff are not abandoning you.  We are in regular telephone contact with many of you, but not with all of you.  We are available via telephone, email and Facetime, and will continue to be as we navigate the days ahead together.

Here is what we are working on:
 

  • Opportunities for us all to virtually congregate will be available throughout the week.  In addition to learning opportunities, such as Torah Talk, clergy will also be hosting virtual conversations several times a week.  These times will be posted both on our website and my Facebook page (rabbiadamwatstein@facebook.com).  
  • Most hospitals and rehab facilities have closed their doors to visitors. If anyone from B’nai Aviv is in the hospital, please let us know so clergy can—at the very least—stay in touch virtually.  

  • Our Religious School is temporarily closed. Instructions for long-distance learning will be forthcoming from Liz Singer, Director of Lifelong Learning. If any of your children, however, are in distress about all of this and you feel that a supportive email or phone call from clergy would help, just let us know and we will be in touch with that child directly. And, of course, the same goes for our ECEC children: if any parents would like us to  phone their children to say hello, we would be pleased to do that.                           
  • Our ECEC is also temporarily closed. Mindy Bernstein will be working closely with the teachers to provide vitual opportunities for our families. For as long as we remain shuttered, the cantor and I will also undertake our weekly Shabbat programming virtually with the children.  We will be in touch with specific instructions.                                                                                
  • Though our regular services have been temporarily discontinued, this is not, however, a good time for any of us to abandon prayer! If any of you wants some counsel on how to daven at home (i.e., which prayers are crucial and which are dispensable, which should only be said with a minyan and which individuals can say on their own, etc.), just ask and we will help you get organized.  We will also be providing suggestions as to how to organize structured times for family prayer at home.  I am aware of the fact that there are so-called “virtual” minyanim out there that you can log onto and participate in, but my counsel would be not to recite Kaddish virtually in such a setting unless there is an actual minyan of actual people davening together that you are joining and not if all participants are connected solely virtually. 

We know how unsettling this is for our congregational family. Hopefully, we can find comfort in knowing that we are not alone in our anxiety. We are bound to one another and remain responsible for each other.   If we stick together and support each other, we will leave this crisis mode stronger than the way in which we entered it. We have a resilient community of friends at B’nai Aviv, so the question is really just how to bring the best version of ourselves to the fore, how to stand by and with each other, and how to negotiate straits that none of us saw coming and for which none of us was truly—or at all—prepared.

We will get through this! Our entire board and professional staff are committed to overcoming this crisis together.  If you need any of us, WE ARE HERE. We will all be checking our voicemail and emails regularly. Since this situation is constantly changing we ask that you continue to monitor our website, emails, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates throughout the coming days and weeks. 

You can reach us at 954-384-8265 (main number), 954-349-1879 (youth department), or 954-384-6605 (ECEC).  You can also click on our names below to access our email addresses:

Rabbi Adam Watstein
Cantor Bill Lieberman
Jamie Cohen, Board President
Scott Daub, Board Vice President
Lynne Balaban, Executive Director
Mindy Bernstein, ECEC Director
Liz Singer, Director of Lifelong Learning
Todd Morchelies, Youth Director
Sol Hettena, Ritual Director
Joe Castro, Facilities Director

Thank you.

 

Sun, December 5 2021 1 Tevet 5782