Kol HaLev Community Health Brit

(v. 7.0, July 1, 2023)

This brit (covenant) sets out the practices which constitute Kol HaLev’s health and safety policies, as well as the beliefs and values which inform those practices. All members and their guests must agree to this covenant as a prerequisite to participating in Kol HaLev’s in-person services and events.

Our community values

As a welcoming, caring and inclusive community, we’re guided by the Jewish values of b’riyut (health and wellness), k’vod habriot (human dignity), kehila (commitment to community), d’veykut (connection to the divine) and sh’lom bayit (collective harmony). We recognize that among our members, there’s a diversity of comfort levels and preferences in relation to COVID-19 risk mitigation practices. 

Turning values into practices 

When we gather together for in-person services or events, we are committing to:

Doing more than is required to protect the vulnerable:  Despite our recent turn to optional masking, our COVID-19 safety protocols still exceed the guidelines of other local synagogues. Because it is important to us to delay as long as possible the moment someone contracts COVID-19 at one of our services or events, we continue the minhag (custom) of khumra (doing more than what is required) when it comes to holding members to higher expectations for vaccination and self-monitoring.

Including and protecting the vulnerable:  Given the shifts in the world around us, and the preferences of a preponderance of our members, the board no longer feels justified in continuing to require mandatory masking at this time. This may mean some members no longer feel they may safely attend our events and services, unfortunately. For that reason, we commit to continue to offer multi-access options for services and events taking place in the Ratner Chapel and, to the best of our ability, in other locations as well. Services take place on Zoom every week, and on Zoom alone at least two times a month. 

Honoring the choices and beliefs of others: As a community, we’re committed to treating one another with empathy, grace and respect, and to taking pains to avoid expressing opinions or taking actions which directly imperil others’ sense of belonging and acceptance. This is especially important when it comes to the wide range of beliefs and behaviors among our members regarding COVID-19. Regardless of the degree of certainty with which we hold our own beliefs on this topic, we must also recognize that each of us faces our own unique circumstances and must honor the choices that each person makes to best take care of their own health, and/or that of their loved ones.

Our COVID policy and guidelines 

How Kol HaLev’s COVID-19 policy is set: The board of trustees on proposals for changes to our COVID policy. Proposed policy changes are based on a balance of community values, guidance from Kol HaLev’s Pandemic Advisory Committee (PAC) and other factors.

General principles: 

  • Our goal continues to be zero transmission of COVID-19 at Kol HaLev gatherings. 
  • When masking is voluntary, other safety precautions become crucial in preventing inadvertent transmission of COVID-19.
  • Stay home from Kol HaLev services and events if you know there is a chance you have COVID-19.

Masking Guidelines

At the present time (summer 2023), masking is optional but recommended at all indoor Kol HaLev events. 

Our Pandemic Advisory Committee (PAC) will continue to monitor the available data,  and will alert us to changes in the public health landscape. Please keep in mind that increased community transmission may necessitate periods of mandatory masking in the future.

Other COVID-19 Safety Guidelines

Mandatory masking is so effective at mitigating the risk of COVID-19 transmission that until recently we haven’t emphasized other important COVID-19 risk mitigation methods. Now that we have paused our mandatory masking policy, however, those other precautions are crucial to our efforts to prevent transmission of COVID-19 at Kol HaLev services and events. Please make sure you understand and meet our community expectations for:

  • Vaccination: Our community’s expectation is that you will only attend a Kol HaLev service or event if you have been fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 (to the extent advised by your healthcare provider).
  • Self-monitoring for symptoms: Our community expects you to monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19 before attending Kol HaLev events. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (that are not clearly due to another cause, such as allergies or asthma), please stay home and join us via Zoom.
  • Exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.  Exposure to others with COVID-19 poses a risk to our community if you do not take the right precautions.
    • If you are asymptomatic, you can attend in-person gatherings ONLY if you wear a well-fitting N95, KN95 or KF94 mask.
    • If you develop symptoms of COVID, do not come to any program or service in person. Please join us on Zoom.

Kiddush/communal eating

Eating together is an important component of communal life. All food brought to a Kol HaLev meal should comply with our Kashrut policy.

Kiddush is NOT just for those who are not masking. If you’d like to join the conversation at kiddush and you’re comfortable with voluntary masking, please feel free to attend kiddush wearing your mask.

We have resumed holding potlucks. Stay tuned for opportunities!

Respecting one another’s limits

  • Minimize stress: Because we value a culture of mutual respect, we employ consent-based practices to ensure all participants’ comfort at our events. To that end, we strive to make it possible for all attendees to be present for Kol HaLev events with minimal stress about masking, physical safety and unwanted proximity. 
  • Be aware that there’s a diversity of preferences among us regarding masking and physical distances: Some members will continue to mask and/or avoid the physical proximity of hugs and handshakes. Others, whether masked or not, will welcome the proximity.
  • Look for cues and ask permission: As you approach others, be alert for verbal cues or body language that indicate that physical proximity is unwanted. It’s always a safe choice to ask for permission before moving in for a hug or handshake, “May I give you a hug?”

Safety Guidelines

Part of honoring pikuah nefesh (the value of human life) is making sure our meeting spaces are secure and that we’re prepared for medical emergencies, natural disasters and incidents of violence. To that end, we’ve created security protocols which are enforced by trained Greeter Corps volunteers. While on-site at in-person gatherings, attendees will practice situational awareness and follow the guidance of Greeters, JFC Security personnel, and law enforcement officers on the premises.

  • Obey all visual instructions, particularly those marking entry points and perimeters.
  • Obey the directions of Kol HaLev’s Greeter Corps volunteers
  • Practice situational awareness: If you notice anyone or anything that seems odd or out of place, tell a Kol HaLev Greeter Corps volunteer right away. 

Your Commitment

Once you have read this brit, your attendance at any Kol HaLev event signifies your agreement with the terms of the brit and your willingness to adhere to Kol HaLev’s policies for in-person gatherings – even if you are comfortable with less stringent practices in your personal life. Doing so will enable us to create a communal space that is as safe, supportive, and comfortable as can be for all our attendees.