Updated Guidelines for Gathering – Proposal for Hybrid Summer

The Board of Directors and Rabbi have been working on this proposal for hybrid services this summer. We welcome your feedback, and ask your understanding if and when we need to adapt these plans in response to changing circumstances. Stay safe and get vaccinated when you can! Blessings to all.

Proposed Rubric

for Moving to Hybrid Services

Definitions: 

  • Hybrid services are services where some people are physically present, while others are participating remotely via Zoom. 
  • Digital services are Zoom-only.

CBI may opt to adopt a hybrid services model this summer (June and onward) if:

  • Our primary constituent communities (North Adams, Williamstown, Adams) are designated “green”or “grey” in the MA Weekly Covid-19 Public Health Report that comes out on Thursdays.

When we’re in hybrid mode, we will:

  1. Ensure social distancing and require masks;
  2. Provide hand sanitizer for hand-washing;
  3. Follow all state requirements. Right now the MA House of Worship guidelines stipulate no more than 10 persons per 1000 square feet. Our expanded sanctuary is 2400 square feet and the space within the moveable walls is 630 square feet, so our maximum indoor capacity is 24 people with walls open. We’ll also ask participants to follow state guidelines regarding quarantining after crossing state lines under certain circumstances;
  4. Require participants to sign an attendance list and give contact information, so we know who’s there (in case of need to do contact tracing); 
  5. Ensure that there is still a digital / Zoom option for those who can’t come in person;
  6. Meet outdoors, or — if indoors — with doors and windows open and good ventilation (as of now, some of our service leaders are only comfortable leading outdoors);
  7. Not yet permit food or drink, including kiddush;
  8. Not yet permit singing by anyone other than the (vaccinated, masked, distanced) rabbi, because of the risks posed by singing;1 As of May 2021, this is under renewed discussion. Newly-released CDC guidelines suggest that it is safe for masked, vaccinated people to sing together outdoors, and we’re working on figuring out whether or not that’s safe indoors.
  9. And send out a weekly email on Fridays (after the Thursday weekly public health report comes out) letting people know that we will be offering a hybrid service on Shabbat if that is the case. If there is rain in the forecast, we may alert the community on Friday that services will be back on Zoom.

If one of the three aforementioned constituent communities goes back to yellow or red, we will move back to digital services until that circumstance changes.  If anyone who has been in the synagogue tests positive for COVID, we will revert to digital for 14 days.

If hybrid services are meeting outdoors:

We will need:

  1. Volunteers to set up chairs on the patio (socially distanced / 6 feet apart) and take them back inside afterwards;
  2. A long extension cord and other gear TBD (like a wifi extender, or possibly a very long ethernet cable) so that our internet works on the patio; 
  3. Possibly an outdoor sound system so the rabbi can be heard outdoors at a distance;
  4. The service-leader to bring a laptop or other device that can be used to stream the Zoom service for those who are participating remotely.

If / when we do services outdoors, we will use Mishkan T’filah (the bound books) and ask those who are participating digitally to get the e-book to follow along. 

If hybrid services are meeting indoors:

We will need:

  1. To open doors and windows to ensure as much ventilation as possible;
  2. To set up chairs at appropriate social distance (at least six feet apart);
  3. The service-leader to bring a laptop that can be used to stream the Zoom service for those who are participating remotely.

We are planning to purchase a large screen / monitor for the sanctuary, so that we can lead indoor services either using Mishkan T’filah, or using the screenshare siddur that can be customized each week. If using the screenshare siddur, participants in the room could either follow along on the big screen, or bring their phones / tablets to follow the slides via Zoom. 

Whether indoors or outdoors:

Because singing is still contraindicated, hybrid services may tend toward the contemplative / spoken-word, even when outdoors. (Dr. Fauci suggests that community singing may become safe again in mid/late fall assuming that vaccinations take place at the expected rate.)

We will need someone each week to maintain the contact sheet and take responsibility for giving contact information to the health department if needed. 

We will need to let people know that if they test positive after a gathering at CBI, they need to let us know so that we can alert contact tracers.

And after each gathering, the facility will need to be sanitized before being used again, even if we’re meeting outdoors (we will need to unlock the building so people can use the bathrooms), so we’ll need to have our cleaning service come on Monday mornings.

Approved by the CBI Board of Directors, April 2021.


1. See Is singing together safe in the era of coronavirus? Not really, via NPR. Also: the National Association of Teachers of Singing, in a webinar with Johns Hopkins, said that a choir of all vaccinated peoplemay be able to sing for a maximum of 30 minutes if masked, distanced, and outside… which tells us that even outdoor singing, during our usual 90-minute service, is too high a risk to incur at this time.

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