Reopening Policies for Shabbat Morning Services

As of 4.7.21

Plan Highlights: 

  • Beginning May 1, we will hold hybrid in-person/virtual Shabbat morning services in the Main Sanctuary with limited capacity, social distancing, and masks required.
  • Registration for services is required each week, as well as the completion of a short wellness check 24 hours prior to Shabbat.
  • We have modified the service to prioritize safety, and we have invested heavily in upgrading our audio and visual quality for those who choose to continue joining us from home.

Who Can Attend?

At this time, we can accommodate up to 15 pods of up to 4 people at services each week. No individual may attend who has not registered and received confirmation that they have received a spot. Registration alone is not a guarantee of admittance. Spaces are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please do not attend if any of the following are true:

  1. You are sick
  2. You have felt sick in the past two weeks
  3. You have been in close proximity with someone with COVID-19 symptoms and/or someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks and is not yet fully vaccinated
  4. You are caring for a family member or living with someone who has currently contracted COVID-19 or displaying symptoms thereof
  5. You have been asked to self-isolate

*To be fully vaccinated means you have received ALL doses of the vaccine AND have waited two weeks for the vaccine to take effect. (If the vaccine you received requires two doses, you aren’t considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after the second dose.)

How Do I Sign Up? 

  1. Via the online form (coming soon)
  2. By contacting Jackie Nix (jnix@aasynagogue.org; 404.603.5743)

Registration for Shabbat morning services will begin every Monday morning at and will close every Wednesday at 8 pm.

Only one person should register on behalf of all members of their “pod.” A pod can be an individual person, a family or the immediate group you’ve been gathering with this pandemic. Those who are vaccinated may choose to sit with other friends who are vaccinated as a pod. In any of these cases, one person should register for the whole group. We highly recommend that all get fully vaccinated as soon as possible, limiting their in-person exposure as much as possible until that time.

You will be notified by 2 pm on Thursday afternoon if you have received a spot for that week’s Shabbat morning service. Those who do not receive a spot, will receive priority for upcoming Shabbatot. Registration is only available for the Shabbat morning service occuring in the upcoming week. You can not register for Shabbat morning services weeks ahead of time.

If you receive a place at services, you are required to confirm your attendance and complete an online wellness check for each member of your family by 1 pm on the Friday before service. Multiple families sharing a pod must submit on behalf of each family unit within the pod. For pods of unrelated individuals, each individual must submit a wellness check, regardless of who made the registration.

Your privacy will be maintained, and only Jackie (Director of Youth and Family Engagement) and, in extenuating circumstances, Barry (Executive Director) will have access to the information you submit. Those who fail to confirm attendance and complete a wellness check will lose their spot for that service.

Upon arrival on Saturday morning, you will be welcomed by a member of our staff or a volunteer, and you will be asked to check in. Only the names on our list will be allowed entry.

Health and Safety Policies: 

We rely on each member of the community to keep each other safe. Therefore, we ask that you uphold the following safety guidelines and will enforce it if necessary. Failure to adhere to these guidelines, after initial reminders, may impact future ability to register for in-person experiences. While there is no guarantee of safety in attending in-person experience, the following is intended to mitigate risk and exposure as much as possible, while providing for a meaningful in-person experience. Participants participate at their own risk.

  • Participants will be required to fill out a wellness check by 1 pm on the Friday preceding the service. Failure to do so will result in your inability to attend and potentially the giving away of your spot at services for that week.
  • Upon arrival, all participants will be checked in. You must be on the list to be admitted.
  • Masks are required (covering both nose and mouth) at all times. Masks with valves are not permitted. Masks will be available if needed.
  • Please note that those leading services from the bima will not be masked while they are leading. These leaders will be 20+ ft from any pod. Torah/Haftara readers and those receiving aliyot must wear masks (see ritual changes below).
  • Social distancing rules (6 feet) must be maintained, except among those in the same pod. In the sanctuary, pods will be 10+ ft apart from each other.
  • You will be assigned a particular area of the sanctuary. Sit only in pews with cushions on them – that is how we’ll mark available and properly spaced seating. Please do not move cushions.
  • Ushers will be present to show you where your seats are located.
  • Tallitot and Kippot will not be provided to reduce shared items – please bring your own if you would like them.
  • Restroom use is restricted to up to 1 pod at a time. Please be sure to wash hands well after use. Sanitation stations will be provided throughout the building as well.
  • Attendees are expected to stay in the sanctuary throughout the service (other than to use the restroom) and are asked not to shmooze in the hallways or entryway. There will be a dedicated space in Srochi Hall for young children to play if they get antsy.
  • Anyone not adhering to these policies or following the instructions and reminders given will be asked to leave.
  • If you have symptoms of Covid and/or a positive test within 10 days of your attendance, you must let the synagogue know as soon as possible, and all attendees will be notified. All names will remain confidential.
  • Following notification of a positive case of Covid as reported by that attendee, in-person services will be suspended for two Shabbatot.

In addition to the policies above, we’ve made the following arrangements for the use of our space:

  • Open pews are spread out so that participants only sit with members of their pod.
  • Siddurim (prayer books) and Chumashim (our sacred texts) will already be placed in your spots, and we ask that you leave them there after the service.
  • There will be no kiddush at this time. We ask that all refrain from eating inside our synagogue space.
  • Sanitization stations will be placed around the synagogue for convenient sanitization.
  • At the end of services, we ask everyone to leave directly while remaining distanced, and to refrain from congregating in the building with those outside of your pod.

Ritual Changes: 

For the last year, we have refrained from the recitation of most d’varim shebikdusha, specific liturgy in our service which require an in-person minyan to recite. We are excited, then, to be able to bring these elements back into the service with the presence of a minyan.  

These additions include the:

  • Barechu
  • Kaddishes (Chatzi Kaddish, Kaddish Shalem)
  • Kedusha in the Amidah
  • Torah and Haftarah Blessings
  • Full liturgy of the Torah Service, as well as the full seven aliyot + maftir aliyah (which do not require a minyan, but we have not been fully doing online) 

For the Mourner’s Kaddish only, we will continue to count both those in the room and those joining virtually towards a minyan.

There are several adaptations, however, that we will put in place to mitigate risk. The service leader will lead the service from the bima, which is 20+ ft from all pods. This leader will be unmasked while leading only. The two lecterns on the bima will be reserved for these leaders. Service leaders must be physically present in the building.

Torah readers will lead from one of two additional lecterns placed on the floor of the sanctuary in the front. All those participating in the Torah Service, including the service leader, must be masked. When multiple readers are present, two Torah scrolls will be taken out, and readers will alternate reading from each Torah to allow some time for the air to clear around the Torah. For the first several weeks, only Jordan Forman, our ritual director, will be reading Torah as we smooth out the logistics. Shared surfaces will be sanitized between touches.

Those receiving aliyot to the Torah will have a dedicated microphone near but not next to the Torah. They will recite the blessing before the reading at the appropriate time. Those participating virtually will have the opportunity to have aliyot, as well as participate in leading communal readings. A virtual participant may also read the Haftarah. There will be no Hagbah (lifting of the Torah) or G’lilah (wrapping of the Torah) at this time – scrolls will be wrapped on the reading tables. Additionally, there will be no processional of the Torah throughout the room – the Torah will be brought from the ark directly to the reading table.

Can I Still Participate From Home? 

Even as we resume in-person gathering, we are committed to providing an exceptional virtual experience. Thanks to a generous donation from the Reisman family in memory of Shirley Reisman, we have invested significantly in upgrading the audio and visual quality of our stream. This will include multiple cameras, the use of a high-end sound board, and a dedicated sound engineer. This allows us to ensure crisp and uplifting sound, both in the room and virtually. Those who are in person will be able to see and hear those who are online, and those zooming in will be able to participate in the ways outlined in the ‘Ritual Changes’ section above. All are welcome wherever they may be.