Our Principles for Resuming In-Person Services

Last updated June 26, 2020 at 4:05PM

The current challenges we’re navigating – individually, in our families, and as a community – have often felt even harder because we can’t come together in person to support each other the way we normally would in difficult times. Yet we’re inspired by the ways our community has gotten creative and stayed connected and by the enthusiasm of individuals who’ve stepped up to lead those initiatives.

As we consider what the future holds, and as the city starts to go through phases of reopening, the Boards of Kehilat Hadar and Shaare Zedek have defined a set of principles that will guide how we plan to approach restarting in-person services. We are not at the point of presenting specific tactics or plans, as we know much additional work will need to follow in order to make plans and put them into action. Together the Boards of KH and SZ will rely on these guiding principles when considering how and when we choose to resume in-person programming and services.


  • Safety – When we meet, we will adhere to or exceed the safety guidance provided by local authorities, best practices for prayer communities in NYC, and requirements set by the spaces we meet in. We will rely on each member of the community to uphold the guidance and will lean on leadership to enforce it.
  • Minimizing Risk – We have relatively low to moderate risk tolerance when it comes to the physical risk of gathering. This means that we may take a somewhat slower and more conservative approach than the one permitted by state and city guidelines.
  • Maximizing Participation – We’ll make choices that aim to maximize the number of people who can safely participate in person. This includes the prospect of coming back in parts – rather than as a whole community – in order to make it possible for even more people to participate.
  • Equity – We’ll prioritize ways of meeting that minimize exclusion and ensure those who want to attend have a fair chance to access services. We acknowledge that there will still be some exclusion based on space capacity and further restrictions on individuals or groups of individuals.
  • Inclusion – Given that some people will be excluded from in-person shul as we phase back in, we must exercise and demonstrate care and run complementary programs for those who can't be there.
  • Prioritizing Davening – We anticipate that there will be some limits on what we will be able to do once we resume in-person services. We will focus on davening as our first priority, while we’ll look to resume things like kiddush and kids’ programming & supervision at a later point.
  • Halachic Observance – There are no planned changes to the halachic practice at services at this time (e.g. no virtual Shabbat minyan). We will be creative within the bounds of halacha so that  our experience of shul adheres to local safety guidance (e.g. distancing, masks, limited or no singing).
  • Adaptation – Once we begin implementation, we expect to make ongoing adjustments, even as frequently as week to week, based on the evolving situation and your feedback.

While many of us are eager to return to how things were before this pandemic, we anticipate that there will be many differences when we first start meeting again and a long road before things stabilize. Similarly, we can't see far enough down the road to know what the High Holidays are going to look like yet, but as soon as we have more information we'll let you know.

We’re heartened by the commitment our community has shown by staying connected and bringing joy into each other's lives in big and small ways. We will continue to rely on our shared strength through this new phase and are grateful to be part of this wonderful community.

As always, we welcome your thoughts and feedback. Please feel free to contact us at contact@kehilathadar.org and membership@sznyc.org.

The Kehilat Hadar Board
Emily Scharfman, Steven Melzer, Meir Schecter, Tim Bernard, Max Arad, Mara Braunfeld, Aaron Kasman, Ashira Konigsburg, Stefan Krieger

The Shaare Zedek Board
Michael Firestone, Lianna Levine Reisner, Adin Rosenberg, Jeff Weinstein, Sara Marks, David Handelman, Harlan Levinson, Sharon Meiri Fox, Joshua Newman, Ronald Slusky