Temple Shalom will hold its first in-person service since March on Friday when it celebrates Simchat Torah outdoors on its backyard lawn.
The service will begin at 6 p.m. Worshippers are being asked to bring their own lawn chairs, wear facemasks, and sit far apart. The congregation will renew its long tradition of parading its Torahs outside around the perimeter of the synagogue.
“After decorating our sukkah and taking up the lulav and etrog (while socially distancing and wearing masks), we decided to try an outdoor Simchat Torah musical service while still offering Zoom access,” Rabbi Beth Jacowitz Chottiner said in a prepared statement. “We are trying to strike a balance between safety and normalcy during this pandemic.”
The service will be the latest step for Jewish Louisville as it inches towards a full return to normal Jewish life. Anshei Sfard and Chabad resumed in-person worship this summer; The Temple has begun holding b’nai mitzvah services in its building and social programs outdoors and the Jewish Community Center has reopened its pool, fitness center and Early Learning Center.
All these institutions are employing safety measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which leads to COVID-19.
Most services and programs continue to be offered online, though, and most synagogues still livestream their services on YouTube, Zoom and Facebook Live. Some congregations have organized task forces, including medical and legal experts, to advise their leaders as to when and how to reopen.
Still, the movement comes as several states are seeing upticks in their rates of infection, which could be affected still further by the flu season.
More than 211,000 people across the United States have died from COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. Nationwide, there have been more than 7.5 million cases, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and other sources.