Dear RTFH Family,

As Coronavirus continues to spread across the world, the number of cases has increased dramatically within our own country and New York City. It is imperative that we take steps as a community to help limit the spread of this disease.

As a result and after much thought, deliberation, and in the best interests of our congregants, families, and staff, we have made the difficult decision to move all in-person activities to a virtual platform and postpone other programs beginning tonight, Friday, March 13 for the immediate future. Temple life has not come to a stop, as we will be adapting our Temple programming, including Shabbat Services and Religious School, to remote access.

This is new territory for all of us, so more information will be shared in the coming weeks. Please be patient as we work out the details. See below for updates on different areas of Temple. Please know while we will not be in the physical building of The Reform Temple of Forest Hills, our synagogue’s mission of welcoming, caring, and Jewish connection will continue through other means. As soon as it is safe to return to our building to gather together, we will do so.

We know that while this poses hardships on all of us, we feel confident that this is the right step to take together in order to keep our community safe.

At this time, there are no known cases of Coronavirus, nor any reported direct contact with anyone with Coronavirus, in The Reform Temple of Forest Hills community. If you or anyone in your household has a confirmed case or Coronvirus or has come into contact with someone with a confirmed case, please let us know by getting in touch with the Temple office.

Clergy Support

Our clergy are here for you, as they always are, and are ready in these times to meet by phone, FaceTime, or Zoom call. Please feel free to reach out to them directly.

Rabbi Mark Kaiserman can be reached at rabbikaiserman@rtfh.org

Cantor Emily Wigod Pincus can be reached at cantorpincus@rtfh.org

Worship Services

Beginning with tonight’s services all services will be livestreamed. Please do not come to the Temple building. This means you can join Shabbat services from your home on your computer or smartphone or even by telephone live during Shabbat via a Zoom link. We’ll provide you with a link for each service that will take you directly to the feed. A link for tonight’s services will provided by email later this afternoon. Details on how to use Zoom and the links for your computer or to call in will be provided via email, on Facebook, and on our website.

Religious School

We will transfer Religious School to online learning and at-home activities for each grade. Plans are in the works. This Sunday, March 15 and Wednesday, March 18 there will be no Religious or Hebrew School. Classes will soon be joining together from their own homes electronically. Classes will resume on Sunday, March 22.

Mitzvah Day

Mitzvah Day (Sunday, March 31) will be transformed into creative activities we can do from home and via computer. We can always do mitzvot wherever we are! We hope to still be able to hold the Blood Drive as health and safety protocols allow it.

Simcha! 25th Anniversary Concert

We want to hold our concert when we can truly come together in celebration. The April 4thconcert will be postponed to a later date.

Passover Seder

We are hopeful to offer our Second Night Seder in some form, but details are pending based on the current situation. We will create a meaningful Pesach wherever we are.

Meetings, Teen and Adult Educational Programs

All committee meetings and adult classes will take place via the Zoom app including Torah Study, Adult B’nai Mitzvah, and Confirmation. Links and instructions will be provided. ToFHY will continue to meet via technological apps. Watch your emails for details. We are also developing new events to keep you engaged and feeling part of our community!

B’nai Mitzvah preparation

Tutoring and D’var Torah Meetings will be held with the Cantor or the Rabbi via FaceTime or Zoom and not in person. We will continue to prepare for each student’s special day.

Communication

We will be relying on email as our primary form of communication to provide you links to programs and services, updates on new opportunities, and messages from the clergy. Please check your emails regularly to stay connected with RTFH. The Website (www.rtfh.org) and the Temple’s Member’s Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/rtfhny/) will also be updated.

Please do not come to the Temple building in the coming weeks. While staff will be working in the office, if you need something from the building or to drop something off, call ahead to make sure we are able to best welcome you.

Now more than ever we must strive to be connected and kind. Reach out to each other and show love in every action. We can’t control many things in our world. We can be the best versions of ourselves as Jews, as neighbors, and as humans. In these challenging times, RTFH will remain a strong community as we work to strengthen each other.  As we say at the end of each book of the Torah, chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek – let us be strong, and let us strengthen one another.

L’shalom,

Rabbi Mark Kaiserman

Neil Rosenblatt, President