Temple Micah Reopening FAQs

Reopening Temple Micah: Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated 7/20/2021

We offer these FAQs to keep our community aware of the steps that are being considered as we strive to get back to in-person services. The FAQs address our approach to reopening and the decisions – which may be tentative – that have already been made. Because we are working in a dynamic environment, with guidance and regulations regularly modified, we will update these FAQs regularly. Please check back often for the latest updates.

Q: What are the guiding principles in deciding how and when in-person activities will be resumed at Temple Micah?

We are governed by Jewish principles of collective responsibility for the welfare of others as well as the evolving recommendations set forth by public health authorities and other health experts whose advice we seek in making decisions about use of the building for various activities. This will be an on-going process and we will adapt as conditions allow. At the same time, we are considering numerous issues that involve risk assessment and recognize there are no fail-safe answers for everyone in all situations.

As we make judgments as a congregation, we also recognize that congregants will consider their own risk-assessments in deciding whether to attend in-person activities.

Q: When will the Temple Micah building open?

We hope to begin regular Shabbat services on September 24, the Shabbat during Sukkot. By then, we anticipate that the vast majority of adult Micah members and many of the older students will be fully vaccinated. In setting this goal, we acknowledge that our approach and standards may be more stringent than CDC guidance. This will both provide confidence to our members and make certain we reduce any risk of transmission of the virus.

Q: What changes have been made in the temple to improve air quality and circulation?

Working closely with public health experts and having contracted with a leading environment health engineer, learned that in most parts of the building, our current HVAC system meets or exceeds recommended air change rates (ACR) and that no modifications will need to be made to the HVAC system.

Q: What will we do for High Holidays?

As our rabbis shared in their June letter to the congregation, holiday services will include both virtual and in-person programming. The evening services for Rosh Hashanah and Kol Nidre wil be online only.

The daytime services for both holidays will be held both in-person for a limited number of participants, as well as online. Relying on the guidance from our medical and public health advisors, we will limit the number of attendees at the in-person services at the church. Members will be asked which service (if any) they wish to attend in person, as well as how many people will be in their group. We will make every effort to accommodate your preference, if possible.

Q: Now that the CDC says it’s fine for vaccinated people to gather inside without masks, why can’t Micah start services for those who are vaccinated?

Although some houses of worship have begun inside services for vaccinated congregants, we want to be sure that our worship is both safe, continues to meet our congregants’ needs and achieves the goals of our worship services. Before we move forward on any use of the building, we want to be sure we do so in a way that both meets our values and exceeds the CDC guidance.

Q: What type of guidance are we relying on to make these decisions?

We continue to rely on the expertise of medical and public health professionals; guidance from the CDC and WHO; environmental engineers; and temple leadership. Each decision we make will begin with the health and well-being of our members, staff, and visitors, and how each of our decisions enriches and sustains our community.

Q: Is it possible to meet with one of the rabbis in the building for a consultation?

Yes, but on a reservation only basis. As always, email is the best way to reach the rabbis and staff to arrange meetings. For the time being, in order to limit the number of persons in the building, there will be no drop-in visiting.

Q: What are the cleaning protocols in the building?

Once the temple building is back in use, we will follow CDC guidance and advice from our environment engineering report. Relying on that guidance, we will institute a cleaning schedule that includes disinfectant of the bathrooms and other “high-touch” common spaces.

Q: Once we resume in-person services, will you limit the number of persons who can attend?

Temple Micah is striving to return to in-person services as quickly as feasible while assuring the health and well-being of our members and staff.  In order to accomplish that we will move forward incrementally, initially limiting the number of people in attendance, but ever mindful of the goal of the participation of the largest number of members possible.

Q: Will Micah require vaccination to attend services?

As a community Temple Micah operates out of a belief that we are all responsible for each other. In this spirit and out of a desire to protect the most vulnerable among us we will ask that all persons attending services be fully vaccinated. We trust that this principle will be followed. We will not, however, ask for proof of vaccination.

Q: I really like to participate by Zoom. Will that continue for Shabbat services?

Our rabbis and staff have spent an enormous amount of time and energy in developing Shabbat services using Zoom. As a result, they have provided an enriching spiritual experience, energized the congregation in new ways and brought about wide participation by members in the Washington, DC area, as well as non-members and non-members alike in far-flung locations. We would like to build on this experience and the attendant technology as we resume in-person services. Our service leaders as well as a new committee will be exploring the best technologies and other issues to create the most “Micah-like” service experience. But just as the Zoom services took some time to fully develop and take advantage of the technology, so will any hybrid service of the future. The only thing we know for certain is that the future will be different from the past.

Q: When inside services resume, will we still enjoy shared food for the oneg and kiddush?

We will move slowly in this area until we are more confident of the science and best health practices. For the moment there will not be shared food.

Q: What are the plans for Machon Micah?

Machon Micah is implementing a plan for participation of students both in-person and from home. Our goal is to provide the largest range of in-person activities as we can, recognizing that may not always be possible. Machon families will be kept informed of any decisions made about in-person sessions.

Q: When will groups that customarily meet at the Temple, for example Lunch and Learn, Book Groups and Torah Study resume meeting there?

The goal is for each group to resume their activities at the Temple as soon as possible, or in some hybrid fashion if that is feasible. We will look at each group to determine how to safely gather together. Again, in some cases, remaining totally online may also be an option.