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COVID-19 Updates & Information

Coronavirus - Health Department - City of New Bedford Official Website

Help Fellow Congregants In Need:
An important consideration during this pandemic is how we will care for each other.
If you or anyone in our Hakafa community is isolated, in need of assistance, or if you find yourself in a challenging financial situation and could use support, please contact Rabbi Elder.

Upcoming Events:

August 26
- 1:00 PM - Wednesday Afternoon Torah Study VIA ZOOM
August 28
- 7:30 PM - Shabbat Service and Oneg VIA ZOOM
August 30
- 10:30 AM - Discussion: Voting in the Age of COVID-19 VIA ZOOM

Note to Congregation 6/14/20:

Dear Hakafa Members,

We write to share with you that it will not be possible for us to gather together in person for our High Holiday services this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have not made this decision lightly, recognizing that the High Holidays are a unique opportunity for us all to come together as a congregation to worship, to study, and to share friendship and food. But religious gatherings around the world have been the source of outbreaks of this disease. Sitting alongside each other, sharing conversation, and joining together in prayer and song are all simply too dangerous in these times. We would be heart-broken if our coming together in a physical space were to result in the illness of even one of our members, many of whom are part of the most highly at-risk population.

We have consulted with two of our congregants, Dr. Ron Hershow, Director of Epidemiology at the School of Public Health of UIC, and Dr. Julian Solway, a Pulmonologist and Critical Care Physician at the University of Chicago. Their professional opinion is that it is prudent to hold our services virtually. The Reform rabbis across the North Shore have agreed not to hold in-person High Holiday services and have shared the letter attached to this email. And, Gov. Pritzker has recommended that no gatherings of more than 50 people occur until Phase 5, the final phase of the full reopening of the state, when a vaccine or treatment options are readily available.

Plans are underway to enable us to have meaningful and beautiful High Holiday services online, including Family Services. There will be an online prayer book. We will have music with Sara Goodman and Ed Zelnis, our High Holiday music director of many years, along with our four long-time soloists. Work is being done to improve the quality of our sound online in order to allow us to fully enjoy all the music, as well as the Shofar service.

Those of you who have joined us for Shabbat services know that, while it is a different experience than gathering in person, it is still Hakafa coming together in a holy way. We hope that you will all plan on joining us for our High Holiday services. Please contact either of us with suggestions for this new endeavor.

Deborah Brown, Congregation President
Bruce Elder, Rabbi


Note to Congregation 3/12/20:

Dear Hakafa Members and Friends,

Given the continuing and compelling reports of the spread of the coronavirus and the evolving efforts to contain it, we at Hakafa are taking further steps to protect our community.

Several of the activities and programs that we'd hoped could continue this week will now be cancelled:

Saturday, March 14 – Shabbat Morning Minyan - cancelled
Saturday, March 14 - Tot Shabbat - cancelled
Sunday, March 15 - Religious School - cancelled
Tuesdays, March 17 and 31 - Hebrew School - cancelled

Additionally, at least through March 31, we will make the following adjustments:

  • All weekday adult classes with Rabbi Elder will be held via Zoom Video Conferencing rather than in person. Instructions for accessing Zoom can be found in the weekly email announcements.
  • All Shabbat Services will be held via Facebook Live rather than in person.
  • All other programs will be rescheduled or run via Zoom; more information to come.

We have created a special page on our website ( to keep you updated on Hakafa's response to COVID-19 and for up-to-date details about congregation events / cancellations / changes, etc. Please visit it for the most current information.

An important consideration during this pandemic is how we will care for each other. If you or anyone in our Hakafa community will be isolated and in need of assistance, please contact Rabbi Elder.

And, please feel free to contact me with any thoughts or concerns.

Nancy Goodman, Congregation President

Note to Congregation 3/10/20:

Dear Hakafa Members and Friends,

With coronavirus reports so prominent in the news, we wanted to let you know that we are keeping apprised of measures that we can take to prevent its spread and to keep our community safe. The advice to avoid gatherings of people is a difficult one for us, as coming together to worship, study, and help others is central to our existence. For those times when we are together, we urge everyone to follow recommended safety guidelines, as outlined on the Centers for Disease Control website.

We are fortunate at Hakafa to have as one of our members Dr. Ron Hershow, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Illinois School of Public Health. His guidance has and will be especially helpful as we move forward. He notes that while things are changing quickly, closures and shutdowns are not yet warranted in Illinois, and that proactive measures (handwashing, use of hand sanitizers, keeping our distance from others, staying home if you feel ill, etc.) are the best steps to follow for now.

Nevertheless, due to heightened concerns voiced by a number of our members, we have decided to postpone or adjust a number of activities coming up in the next two weeks. We are focusing on programs frequented by older adults – those most vulnerable to the coronavirus. These adjustments should give us more time to assess the situation and should also reduce the stress that individuals may feel in deciding whether or not to attend Hakafa gatherings. For those programs that will go on as planned, please feel free to choose to stay home if you feel iffy about attending.

This list includes upcoming postponements, reconfigurations, and ongoing activities at Hakafa:

Wednesday, March 11 – Torah Study with Rabbi Elder – Rather than meeting in person, we will meet online with an option to phone in. Rabbi Elder will provide instructions.

Wednesday, March 11 – Kesher gathering at Curt’s Café – Will go forward as planned.

Friday, March 13 – Shabbat-in-the-Home – All groups postponed except the young family groups; you’ll be informed if your group will still meet. We will reschedule others at a later date.

Saturday, March 14 – Shabbat Morning Minyan – Will go forward as planned.

Saturday, March 14 – Tot Shabbat – Will go forward as planned at the Takiff Center.

Sunday, March 15 – Adult Ed – David Rieser’s session and the JCFS session will be rescheduled.

Sunday, March 15 – Religious School – Will go forward as planned.

Tuesday, March 17 – Hebrew School – Will go forward as planned

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, March 17, 18, 19 – Tuesday and Wednesday Torah Study, Midrash Class, Mishneh Torah Class, and Nosh & Know – Rather than meeting in person, we will meet online with an option to phone in. Rabbi Elder will provide instructions.

Friday, March 20 – Shabbat Service – Will go forward as planned, with livestream for those who prefer it.

Saturday, March 21 – Film Group – Will be rescheduled at a later date.

Please know that if it appears prudent, we will take further steps and will keep you informed. Meanwhile, when we’re together, we can hold off on our usual hugs and handshakes, going for elbow bumps or friendly waves from a six-foot distance instead! We’ll all know that we’re looking out for each other’s health. If you have any concerns, please contact me:

Nancy Goodman, Congregation President


Sun, September 20 2020 2 Tishrei 5781