Update - September 11, 2020
As you may know, the relevant Covid-19 statistics in Palm Beach County have been trending downward consistently for over six weeks. Members of the senior staff, clergy and lay leaders consult with the Temple’s Covid-19 Task Force on a weekly basis to evaluate whether the criteria have been met to move from one phase to the next of the Temple's reopening plan.
As we move into Phase 2, we will be able to host limited services and programs in person. We are especially happy to offer limited High Holy Day Essentials during the week between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.
We are pleased to offer short High Holy Day worship experiences in the Rabbi Merle E. Singer Sanctuary during the Days of Awe between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Each service will be limited to 45 people in attendance, seated socially distant from other attendees, and will be approximately 45 minutes in length. The service will feature the some of the most significant components of our High Holy Day worship services, including Unetaneh Tokef, Avinu Malkeinu, the Vidui Confessional, and shofar service.
These services are for Temple members only, and advance registration through the ShulCloud member portal is required. You may register for one session only, so that we may provide access to as many members as possible.
Click here to register for one of our services, offered at various times Monday through Friday September 21-25. Seating is very limited, and is available on a first-come-first basis based on pre-registration. Walk-ups will not be allowed.
These services will not be livestreamed or made available online. Additional instructions and safety protocols are provided on the online registration page.
We are also offering a limited in-person Kever Avot service at the Beth El Mausoleum at 11:00 am on Sunday, September 27. This service is open to the community, but is limited to 25 people in attendance. Seating is available on a first-come-first basis based on pre-registration. Walk-ups will not be allowed.
The safety of the Temple community depends upon all persons doing their part to ensure safety not just for themselves but for the community as a whole. Every single person behaving responsibly helps the safety of our entire Temple community. Please heed the advice of the CDC and the medical community. Wear your mask, wash your hands frequently, avoid large group gatherings, avoid exposing yourself or your family members to potential infection as much as possible. We are all in this together - let's work collectively to help one another.
The above policies are based on current CDC guidance, and are subject to change as guidelines are updated and/or the public health situation in our geographic area changes. We will remain adaptable and flexible in responding to an ever evolving situation, to help keep our staff, students, members and guests as safe as possible.
We look forward to the day when our entire congregation can safely come together in person to worship, learn and enjoy each other’s company. We will continue to provide updates periodically and encourage you to visit this page for the latest information.
Update - August 24, 2020
Find our updated Reopening Plan here.
Update - August 12, 2020
We are pleased to make the following two announcements:
Our Board of Trustees unanimously made these decisions on Monday night after consultation with healthcare professionals and a review of the recent local pandemic related data.
The health and well-being of our community are always of paramount concern. Even so, it has been challenging to balance the need for safety with the competing demands for services by many of our congregants. We know that the pandemic has been hard on everyone and that the burden of COVID-19 has not been shared equally by all.
But, things are improving, and Beth El intends to take full advantage of the opportunity to resume our reopening plan safely.
Whatever the path the disease takes, we promise that Beth El’s leadership team will continue to try to do its best with the same level of love, care and compassion that everyone has come to expect from our synagogue. And, we promise that our Clergy, leadership team and staff will always be there for those in need within our community.
To keep the community spread of this virus under control, we ask that you please heed the advice of the CDC and the medical community.
Please wear your mask, wash your hands frequently, avoid large group gatherings, avoid exposing yourself or your family members as much as possible.
We are all in this together and we need everyone to take our shared responsibility seriously.
Of course, special sanitization protocols and social distancing will be observed, and visitors to the Mausoleum will be required to wear an appropriate face covering.
If you are not feeling well or have flu-like symptoms, please postpone your visit until you have been cleared by a medical professional. If you would like more specific guidelines, please contact our Mausoleum Director, Mike Sirowitz at email@example.com.
ELC families are strongly encouraged to visit our website to learn about the Covid-19 safety protocols and guidelines that will be in place when school reopens. Here you will also find useful information about the timeline and transition plans for children returning to school.
All programs and worship services will continue in Virtual Beth El.
There will be no facility rentals for birthday parties, lifecycle parties, bar/bat mitzvah parties, or support groups, and no catering is allowed.
The only exceptions are selected life-cycle events such as funerals or Bar/Bat Mitzvahs conducted for immediate family only.
Please contact the Clergy office if you have questions about life-cycle events during this phase of operations.
Beth El has developed an exciting new program called Religious School 180 (RS180) which is an innovative, engaging and values-based curriculum utilizing age-appropriate technology.
RS180 is a fun, interactive way to learn Hebrew and Judaism and will replace our typical classroom-style learning program for this academic year.
Please visit the RS180 page to learn more.
Staff may return to work on a limited basis with specific safety protocols as directed by their supervisor, and as more fully described in the Temple’s Reopening Plan.
Until then, we will see you at Virtual Beth El! We will continue to provide updates periodically and encourage you to check this page for the latest information.
Update - July 26, 2020
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Temple Beth El has sought to respond as Jews have always responded to crisis. We pulled together to ensure our mutual safety, to provide food and sustenance to those who were lacking, and to offer crucial support to those whose lives were threatened by illness and loneliness.
We helped members grieve the loss of loved ones when families could not be together. We celebrated births and b’nai mitzvah. With extraordinary creativity and ingenuity, we endeavored to enliven the celebration of Jewish life – a Zoom Broadway Seder attended by hundreds, Shabbat celebrations, religious education, story time, social justice programming, havdalah, and more.
Our ingenuity and innovative spirit continues as we prepare for this coming year. We want to share with you how Temple Beth El will continue to apply our creative resilience in the weeks and months ahead. We invite you to join the long tradition of our people who, when facing challenge and crisis, invested in Jewish life with even greater strength, commitment, and resolve.
One of our long-time Board members, recognizing the implications of COVID-19, even stated that “in all my years of serving the temple, and being involved in leadership in other organizations, these are the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make. It’s not just policy, it’s a matter of life and death.”
For you, our friends, our congregation, our community, please know that these decisions have been made with great thought, care and deliberation, with the guiding principle that now more than ever we must be our brother and sister’s keeper.
Below is a summary of some of the changes coming to Temple Beth El:
Jewish tradition teaches that we should never risk our lives and our health in the celebration of the high holy days. We are taught instead that it is our obligation to protect the vulnerable and to ensure we do not lead our people to inadvertently endanger themselves or others. We believe that this is the right choice for this moment, and we have embraced the opportunities of this format with excitement and creativity.
In the weeks leading up to the holy days, we will provide a variety of resources to help us maximize the celebration of the New Year and the season of atonement. We will provide guidance on how to sanctify sacred space within our homes, to worship and to pray. We will offer congregational services, creative Family Participation and Young Children’s Services, interactive programs and opportunities for engagement.
We are creating new ways for our members to interact virtually, see familiar faces, engage with clergy, and experience our beautiful sanctuary.
And, while our livestream will remain accessible to people all around the world, we are as committed as ever to building a unique and deeply meaningful experience for our members, with special events and features available only to Temple Beth El members.
It remains Temple Beth El’s objective to reopen the Early Learning Center as soon as safely possible.
We care deeply about the needs of our young families (several of whom are on our Board) and the need to educate and provide childcare.
However, given the recent surge in Coronavirus cases, the strain on our local hospital systems, and the statements of the Covid Task Force medical professionals that it would be “reckless” to open at this time, the Board did not believe that it could honor the synagogue’s moral obligation to provide a safe environment for our children, families, teachers, staff or clergy team.
We are monitoring the situation on a daily basis and fully intend to confirm an opening date as soon as reasonably safe. When the time comes to reopen, we are ready!
We have a full re-opening plan in place, with policies and protocols designed to provide a safe, healthy and joyful environment for our children and teachers.
With that in mind, the Board of Trustees has implemented the following policy changes that we hope will make these turbulent times easier for our parents:
Beth El Early Learning Center families will receive additional information from Ronni Graf, Director of the Beth El Early Learning Center, regarding the opening plans, decision making process and the deferral option.
With the unusual demands on parents this year, juggling family, work, schooling and unusual safety concerns, they have asked us to provide a simple, safe and flexible choice for Religious School.
We have made a 180-degree pivot to an enhanced online educational experience, led by our Clergy and Religious School professionals! There will be opportunities to access content and engagement when convenient for you, in addition to our usual class times.
To provide the socialization and fun our children desperately need, we will move our Tribe level engagement activities to an in person experience when possible, following CDC safety guidelines.
By devoting this year to an online experience, we are able to reduce our costs and create special one-time tuition for our Temple members. Tuition for the “Religious School 180!” will be $180 for all students in K-12, with the exception of those students preparing for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah who will continue to require extra tutoring to prepare them for their special day. 6th and 7th graders will also pay the Bar/Bat Mitzvah portion of our previous tuition price in addition to the $180 so we can continue to pay our tutors and move forward with all the preparations needed for your ceremonies.
Our education team is excited to bring you a robust program that engages every age and allows families the flexibility to engage in their Jewish learning at their own pace.
Details about new registrations and adjusting your current registration will be forthcoming from Heather Erez, Director of Youth Education and Engagement.
To do our part in controlling community spread of this virus, we are limiting access to both campuses. Please refer to our 4-Phase Reopening Plan for detailed information. We know this may be difficult for those who wish to visit their loved ones at the Mausoleum, and hope that this decision will be very temporary.
For more information on access to the Mausoleum, or any questions you may have, please contact Mausoleum Director, Mike Sirowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-391-8901.
We are blessed with a passionate, creative, and innovative team of clergy and professionals who serve our congregation with all their soul and might. Our congregation includes thousands of people like you who will not waver in their commitment to Jewish life even in these extraordinary circumstances. Together we will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than ever.
Update - July 1, 2020
As we head into the summer months, we want to bring you up to date on a few developments, and some thoughts on the future.
SCHAEFER FAMILY CAMPUS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
In December 2017 we began a major renovation and expansion of the Schaefer Family Campus. Less than two weeks after we received our certificate of completion from the City of Boca Raton on March 5, 2020 we closed our doors due to the Coronavirus. We are using this time while the staff is at home to move furniture and equipment into the new building so that when our staff can return to work in-person, they can go right into the new office area.
We would like to acknowledge the incredible efforts of our Facilities Planning Task Force who worked on this very complicated project for over five years, as well as recognize the hundreds of donors whose generosity made our dreams become a reality. We cannot wait to welcome everyone back into our magnificent facilities.
BECK FAMILY CAMPUS, THE EARLY LEARNING CENTER, AND THE RELIGIOUS SCHOOL
We recently made the very difficult decision to cancel the Beth El Early Learning Center (“ELC”) Summer Adventure Camp and Summer Child Care, in the best health and safety interests of our children, staff and teachers. However, we are hard at work creating reopening plans for both the ELC and religious school. The creativity our education teams display in curriculum development, teacher training, and safety protocol continue to surpass all expectations. Their ongoing engagement with our students and parents through Zoom, social media, YouTube and other forms of online learning and parent support demonstrate their devotion to Jewish education of our next generation.
REOPENING TEMPLE BETH EL AGAIN UPDATE
Temple Beth El instituted a Reopening Plan which consists of four phases. On June 1st we moved from Phase 0 to Phase 1 and that is where we remain today. Each week, in consultation with the Temple’s Covid-19 Task Force, we reevaluate whether the statistical criteria has been met to move from one phase to the next. Given the recent rise in positive cases in our area, it is unlikely we will move to Phase 2 in the next several weeks.
So what does this mean for you?
CURRENT FINANCIAL SITUATION AND NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET
The Coronavirus pandemic continues to have a detrimental impact on the Temple’s finances, but not on the spirit of our staff or membership. As we enter into the 2020-2021 fiscal year which begins July 1, we recognize the need to maintain our significant cost-cutting measures. This includes a 10% pay cut to all staff and clergy.
It is difficult to forecast what our revenues and expenses will look like in the coming months. The general consensus is that the economic forecast is gloomy and so we are expecting a significant decrease in revenues. The 2020-2021 operating budget approved at the Annual Congregational Meeting on June 4th included a budget deficit of roughly $600,000. We have not seen a budget like this in recent history.
We know times are tough, and that everyone is dealing with struggles right now – financial, emotional and physical.
It is more important than ever that we maintain the valuable services the Temple provides, especially to our members with the greatest needs. We are committed to continuing our longstanding policy of not turning away any individual or family who want to be part of a Jewish community, regardless of their ability to pay.
If you need financial assistance for school tuition or Congregational Commitment, please let us know. Now is the not the time to take a break from Beth El, it is the time when you need a caring community to support you. If you have questions about our scholarship process, please contact Elinor Josephson, Director of Engagement and Programming at email@example.com.
For those who are able to do so, we hope you will give a little bit more than your congregational commitment so that we can welcome all those who wish to enter.
We thank you for continuing to be a part of our very special Temple Beth El family. We will continue to provide updates periodically and encourage you to check back on this page for the latest information. Wishing you and yours a safe, healthy and relaxing summer.
Update - May 31, 2020
Dear Temple Beth El Family:
Last week we shared with you the 4-phase plan to reopen Temple Beth El. Each week, members of the senior staff, clergy and lay leaders consult with the Temple’s Covid-19 Task Force to reevaluate whether the statistical criteria have been met to move from one phase to the next. First and foremost in our minds as we make these difficult decisions is the health and well-being of our clergy, staff, students, congregants and community. Based on the most recent data, we have determined that we will move from Phase 0 to Phase 1 of the Reopening Plan beginning on June 1, 2020.
So what does this mean for you – our staff, members, students, teachers and guests?
As much as I would love to share with you a detailed timeline for moving through the phases of the reopening plan, unfortunately at this time that is still not possible. We look forward to the day when we can safely come together in person to worship, learn and enjoy each other’s company. Until then, we will see you at Virtual Beth El! We will continue to provide updates periodically and encourage you to visit this page for the latest information.
Update - May 20, 2020
To our Temple Beth El Family and Community,
We used to use that phrase almost casually. “Don’t worry: I’ll be there!” “See you there.” “I’ll be there for you.”
For more than fifty years, Temple Beth El’s mission is to be there.
We want to be there to celebrate the most important moments in life – a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a wedding. We want to be there to offer comfort through life’s greatest challenges – an illness, a divorce, a personal crisis, a loss. We want to be there to celebrate Shabbat, the holidays, and festivals. We want to be there to share in the discovery of Torah and Jewish learning. To make a difference in the lives of those who are needy, to join the fight for justice, to be a beacon of moral clarity, to support our people here, in Israel, and throughout the world.
As the COVID pandemic swept across the world – Temple Beth El had a fundamental question to answer: How can we be there for our congregation when our community can’t … be there? How can we ensure that Temple Beth El will be there now – especially in this extraordinary moment in history when so many people are so vulnerable? As families cope with unemployment, with illness and loss, with loneliness and fear?
Although the pandemic necessitated that we close our physical buildings, we knew that we could still be there for our Temple Beth El family. We could be fully available and operational ~ “virtually.” We quickly acted to implement measures to protect the health and safety of our clergy, staff, students and congregants, and to create a virtual connection.
Who would’ve thought that almost two months later, we would be there for each other, but still only virtually?
If the city and state are beginning to open up, will the Temple open up again soon?
How has the economic shutdown affected the Temple and our members? Will we be ok?
REOPENING BETH EL AGAIN PLAN
The roadmap for how we intend to reopen the Temple is separated into four phases, and takes into account the health and safety of our congregants, students staff and clergy, the guidance of the CDC and the recommendations of the Temple’s Covid-19 Task Force. Specific quantitative data on the progression and mitigation of the virus are taken into account.
We are currently in Phase 0. Each week, we will evaluate the timing of going from Phase 0 to Phase 1, Phase 1 to Phase 2, from Phase 2 to Phase 3 and so on until we reach full opening. We have determined that if a decision must be made where there is no clear “right” or “wrong” answer, we will make the best decision we can, but will generally lean towards being more conservative in terms of the health risks we are willing to take. As such, while many parks and restaurants in Boca Raton are starting to open, we will remain closed for now.
Determining how to safely reopen two campuses with vastly different populations without undue delay is extraordinarily complicated. The risks, challenges and opportunities related to the Early Learning Center are vastly different from those we encounter when planning Shabbat Services at the Schaefer Family Campus. Our highly dedicated staff and lay leaders are doing the best job we can to adapt to this evolving landscape and make the best decisions possible for our staff, members, guests and students.
What we can promise, is that we will keep you informed of our progress as we move to safely reopen our buildings. Click here for an Executive Summary of the reopening plan.
HOW IS TEMPLE BETH EL DOING FINANCIALLY?
The Corona virus pandemic has had a severe detrimental impact on the Temple’s finances. Our operating revenues come from diverse sources, and all of them are down materially since mid-March.
We are projecting a 4th quarter (April/May/June) revenue drop of over $1 million compared to our budget plan. This revenue reduction is due to a number of factors including the closure of the Early Learning Center, lower donations and uncollectible receivables due to new financial hardships felt by many in our congregation, lost catering and facility rental revenue and the cancellation of the Beth El Bash - our only annual fundraising gala.
Our clergy, staff and teachers have taken material pay reductions in order to help get Temple Beth El through this financial crisis. Although pay cuts were initially more severe, we were able return everyone back to 90% of their normal salary through June 30, 2020 since we secured a Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) Loan from the Small Business Administration (“SBA”). Because of the precarious financial conditions, we have not made any final decisions about compensation and staffing levels beyond this fiscal year (June 30th). If economic conditions do not improve, additional cuts to salaries, benefits and/or staffing levels may be necessary.
We have implemented all possible cost-saving measures as we navigate these uncharted waters. Despite the substantial cost cuts proposed in next year’s budget, the most recent version of the 2020-2021 operating budget is showing a deficit of approximately $600,000. We have instituted a hiring freeze and have stopped paying all non-essential expenses. We are renegotiating our construction loan with Wells Fargo to take advantage of the lower interest rate environment and to modify loan terms to reduce our monthly payments. We are renegotiating all material monthly contracts for everything from copy machine leases to landscaping to trash collection. We are also postponing any contractual commitments in order to conserve cash and give us as much flexibility as possible to cancel programs without penalty next fiscal year.
We are taking all of these measures to ensure that Temple Beth El stays financially strong, and is here for our members today, tomorrow and beyond. Notwithstanding these serious challenges, we want you to know that Temple Beth El will absolutely make it through this storm. While times are very tough right now, we are here for our members, and will still be here when things improve.
We hope this answers some of your questions and concerns. We miss you all very much, and will keep you informed as we get new information. Please continue to stay safe and connected with us on Virtual Beth El, or by emailing anyone of our staff.
Update - May 1, 2020
Mini-Camp and Session One (May 26 – June 19) of the Beth El Early Learning Center Summer Adventure Camp has been cancelled. It has been determined that the risks posed by COVID-19 compromise our ability to provide an excellent camping experience, and putting the health and safety of our campers, families, and staff is our highest priority . The continued closure will also apply to our Childcare program.
Decisions regarding Sessions Two and Three and the remainder of the year for Childcare will be made at a later date.
Update - March 25, 2020
Click here for some community resources if you are in need of assistance during this time.
Religious School and Early Learning Center will operate virtually until further notice.
Update - March 19, 2020
Join us Friday, March 20, 2020 on Facebook Live
We understand that this situation may bring a lot of fear and anxiety to our community and all across the world. We are here to provide support.
If a member has an emergency that requires rabbinic intervention, please call 561-961-8702.
Our JFS Community Outreach Coordinator Jaclyn Tureff is available by email, phone and zoom to connect with anybody in need. Jewish Family Service (JFS) will continue to provide regular services for food pantry, financial assistance and counseling. Contact Jaclyn at 561-852-3151 or jaclynT@ralesjfs.org
Update - March 13, 2020
We will not be holding any in-person events through May 16, 2020. This means that all events, except those specifically listed under Postponements or Livestreams, are cancelled. For specific event information, please check our website calendar.
Even as we are being asked to separate physically, we want to make sure that we are connecting spiritually and communally. We will continue to update you as the situation progresses.
Our clergy are here for you as they always are, and are available to "meet" with you by phone or email. Please feel free to reach out to them: Rabbi Dan Levin, Rabbi Greg Weisman, Rabbi Jessica Mates, Cantor Lori Shapiro, and Cantorial Soloist Michelle Auslander Cohen.