These days, “business as usual” is anything but.
This, of course, includes the organized Jewish community’s efforts to work within the Centers for Disease Control coronavirus guidelines to keep people safe.
As of press time, nearly all synagogues, agencies and institutions have shuttered their buildings or drastically minimized in-person, face-to-face activities.
That does not ncecessarily mean that Jewish life has come to a halt.
With the help of technology and human ingenuity, synagogues, agencies and institutions are seeking ways to fulfil their missions without the benefit of public gatherings.
Creativity has combined with frustration to sustain a sense of community as much as feasible. See adjacent story for changes in lifecyle events.
Synagogues and temples
Most Denver-area synagogues have closed their buildings and suspended all in-person worship services, classes, events and programming. As of press time, these include, but are not necessarily limited to, Aish of the Rockies, Bais Menachem, Beth Evergreen, BMH-BJ, B’nai Chaim, B’nai Havurah, B’nai Vail, Chabad Jewish Center of South Metro Denver, Chabd of Vail, DAT Minyan, EDOS, Har Hashem, HEA, Kehilas Bais Yisroel, Temple Emanuel, Temple Micah, Temple Sinai, and Temple Shalom in Colorado Springs.
Many congregations are holding “virtual” or live streamed services on weekdays and Shabbat.
DAT Minyan and BMH-BJ are jointly hosting virtual mincha and maariv services.
The service does not include Kaddish or repetition of the Silent Prayer. The service will be led by Rabbi Joseph Friedman of DAT Minyan and Rabbi Yaakov Chaitovsky of BMH-BJ.
The service begins at 6:50 p.m. on weekdays.
There are two ways to access the service. Internet or phhone: 877-369-0926 or 877-853-5247. Meeting ID is 637 344 5618.
Rodef Shalom this week has been conducting weekday minyanim via teleconferencing technology such as Zoom, but Shabbat services in the synagogue will not take place. Rodef Shalom will livestream Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services from private homes via Facebook Live and Zoom.
Temple Emanuel is creating online content for Shabbat worship and children’s programming.
Synagogues are also conducting classes via teleconferencing.
Aish of the Rockies’ Rabbi Yaakov Meyer is encouraging people to avail themselves of the many lectures and podcasts provided by Aish HaTorah, at aish.com.
BMH-BJ’s annual event scheduled for March 22 is postponed.
Agencies and organizations
The buildings of Jewish Family Service are closed to the public, and many staff members are working remotely.
The Weinberg Food Pantry is providing pre-packed boxes of food to anyone needing it with no documentation or sign-up needed. To limit face-to-face interactions and to promote social distancing, boxes of food are distributed through a pick-up system just outside the pantry at the JFS building, 3201 S. Tamarac Dr.
JFS Friendly Visitors and para-chaplains are reaching out to clients by phone or FaceTime instead of visiting them in their homes.
Face-to-face JFS mental health counseling services are cancelled, but the agency is using HIPAA-approved technology for their mental health clients, including school-based youths. JFS is also offering telehealth counseling services to people impacted by the stress of COVID-19.
All disability and employment programs at SHALOM Denver are suspended, but JFS is making sure these clients have the resources they need during this time.
The JFS Executive Luncheon scheduled for April 20, is postponed to a yet-to-be-determined date.
Denver Community Kollel’s annual event, originally scheduled for March 24, has been postponed indefinitely. The Kollel had planned to shift to an online event. The Kollel continues to offer distance learning programs.
Denver Jewish Day School’s annual event, planned for March 18, was cancelled. The planned videos and fundraising appeal were published on Facebook.
All JEWISHcolorado events scheduled for the next 30 days will not take place.
The Staenberg-Loup JCC is closed, including its early childhood center.
Classes for the Kabbalah Experience will be conducted via Zoom. The annual fundraiser has been rescheduled to June 16.
JTown has cancelled all planned programs.
Rose Medical Center issued the following visitor restrictions as of March 13.
• No more than one visitor at a time per patient
• No areas of congregation allowed (cafeteria seating, waiting areas, lobbies), but colleague and physician lounges remain open
• No children under the age of 12
• No visitors in high risk patient care areas
• No visitors who screen positive for contagious illness
Visitors are allowed only from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Exception to this are one parent with a neonatal ICU patient, women in labor and advocates for surgical patients.
Points of entry to Rose’s facilities have been limited. At Rose, the only access points to the main hospital are the ED/Rose Babies Entrance (9th and Cherry) and the Wolf Building (Hale Pkwy. and Dahlia St.).
Rose’s Emergency Operations Center has been activated to coordinate communication and response across all of its facilities. The center serves as a liaison between HCA Healthcare corporate, key physician partners, public health partners and colleagues. Key information is coordinated and communicated via daily briefings.
The medical center is conducting ongoing assessment of supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE). Staff has been asked to use appropriate conservation to help ensure continued supply.
The hospital recommends the following websites for reference:
• Centers for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov
• Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment, www.colorado.gov/ pacific/cdphe/2019-novel-coronavirus.
Shalom Park is restricting all visitation to its nursing home and J. Leonard Levy Wellness Center. No individual, regardless of reason, is allowed to enter the facility except under certain and very specific circumstances, such as end-of-life situations or when essential for a resident’s emotional well-being and care.
Kavod Senior Life is making changes on campus to adhere to mandates from the DDPHE, CDPHE and CDC regarding coronavirus prevention. The main ones to note are:
• No visitors are allowed on the Kavod campus except those providing crucial caregiving services, and all caregivers must undergo a screening process prior to entry.
• All activities are cancelled as well as community programs with Kavod on the Road.
Kavod has a hotline for community questions: 303-591-4890.
Beth Jacob High School is closed for in-person learning and has implemented a remote learning system. The dorm students have returned home and the dorm is closed.
Rabbi Aron Yehuda Schwab, associate dean, said, “Like everyone else, we’re doing our best to continue our education and being a support to our students through the challenges coming ahead. We’re scrambling to set up systems and learn from the best practices that are being implemented nationally.”
Hillel Academy is closed for in-person learning. A remote learning curriculum was scheduled to begin on March 18.
Denver Jewish Day School is conducting remote-learning for all its students, K-12.
Denver Academy of Torah is closed for in-person learning and remote classes are being conducted.
Garden Preschool in Lone Tree is engaging its students via teleconferencing.
Yeshiva Toras Chaim is closed for in-person learning. Classes are taking place via teleconferencing. Dorm students have returned home and the dorm is closed.
Yeshiva rabbis are reaching out individually to their students regularly.
“We felt that you need these individualized interactions,” said Rabbi Ahron Y. Wasserman, president and CEO.
All synagogue preschools are closed.
Shana Goldberg contributed to this story.
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