High Holy Day Services Update

August 22, 2021

Dear Friends,

It is with great sadness that the leadership of CBST has, in consultation with our fabulous, ever available and thoughtful medical/science advisory team, decided to hold services entirely online. Going forward, Friday night services, selichot and all High Holy Day services will be livestreamed from CBST, and we will not have congregants in the sanctuary. We will continue to evaluate the situation and plan to resume in-person worship as soon as it is deemed safe.

Last year, when we had no choice, we learned how to create holy space online, how to create community at great distances. This year, however, the path is murkier. and deciding what might be a personally acceptable risk is not the same as the responsibility for a communal decision. We have taken that duty very seriously, and in the wake of countless hours of debating, discussion and planning, we have decided that online is the safest option for our community. 

This year, we wanted nothing more than to offer an in-person component to High Holy Day services, and in June, we thought that would be possible. As you know, the clergy, staff, board, and science/medical advisors planned services to include limited in-person attendance, as well as a high-quality livestream for the entire community. We shared these plans with you in the Town Hall on July 12 and then again with a scaled-back plan at the Town Hall on August 16. 

However, the deterioration of the health situation forces us to again rethink our plans. Increasing case numbers locally and nationally, pressure on medical facilities, and the increasing incidence of infections among fully vaccinated individuals, all under the influence of the highly infectious Delta variant of the virus, underlie our decision. The White House announcement that all vaccinated individuals will be encouraged to receive a “booster” shot, together with strengthened local public health measures, heightens the emergent feel of this moment even as it brings hope. We are also watching the news from Israel with great concern that what is happening there might be a forecast of a more dangerous situation in our area in the coming weeks.

We have moved through so many emotions this summer, ranging from joy and relief to grief and anger, to exhaustion, confusion and despair. But we know we will pick ourselves up again, stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, many of whom faced greater adversities, and listen to their wisdom in our hearts and souls telling us to do the best we can, build for the future, and remember that God hears our fears and feels our pain. And we need to do the sacred work of this season—no matter what—returning to the Holy One, doing teshuva, and building a world of love and light. 

We appreciate your flexibility and care for one another. At each step of our planning, your input has been invaluable. We know this is not ideal, yet we also see you and feel the connection online. We are planning beautiful, meaningful, deeply spiritual services for the Yamim Nora’im. We look forward to sharing these with you as we always have, together in community. If you haven't already, please register for High Holy Day services now.

Today, as we write, we hope you are safe and well as our part of the East Coast faces the storm.

With blessings for a season full of reflection and renewal,

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum
Senior Rabbi

Yolanda Potasinski
Executive Director

Sabrina Farber
President