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Short Term Policy, effective January 3, 2022



With the significant regional recent rise in COVID cases and the spread of the Omicron variant, Temple Sinai is modifying our rules and practices. A number of these changes are temporary and—we hope—short lived. As always, we recognize that participation in Temple Sinai events—services, Life Cycle events, meetings, and other opportunities to be with others in our community—are sacred events. 

In light of the public health situation and guidelines from health authorities, and in a manner that balances the values of Kedushah (sanctity), Mishpachah (family), and Pikuach Nefesh (the preservation of life), the Reopening Committee has made the following recommendations, which have been approved by the Executive Committee on behalf of the Board of Trustees and are effective immediately.

  1. Temple Sinai will be fully virtual (with exceptions below) for all services, programs, meetings, and school through at least Sunday, January 23. 
  2. All Temple Sinai food-related events (including those off site) are canceled through that date.
  3. The January 9–10 visit of a Cantor candidate is being postponed.
  4. To better serve our members, staff may go to work in the building, following all COVID precautions (masked at all times unless alone).
  5. January B'nei Mitzvah may continue in person (subject to the evolving health situation). The affected families are being contacted directly with specific information and requirements.
  6. When we are able to return to in-person gatherings, we will require proof of vaccination and will provide details about that process soon.

The Reopening Committee will meet prior to January 23 to reevaluate the evolving public health situation. Of course, we all share the goal of safely returning to in-person (and hybrid) services, events, and gatherings as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

In the interim, we are happy to lend Shabbat prayerbooks. Please come by during regular office hours to sign out a prayerbook.  

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with Drew Barkley, Executive Director, at or (412) 421-9715 ext. 111 with questions.


Temple Sinai Reopening: Phase IV Plan and Guidelines

(Effective Date of this Plan: November 5, 2021) 

Participation in Temple Sinai events—services, Life Cycle events (such as baby namings, Britot Milah, weddings, B’nai Mitzvah, funerals), meetings, and other opportunities to be with others in our community—are sacred events. They sanctify relationships in families, with the synagogue, and within the Jewish community. For more than a year, COVID-19 has presented risks for everyone who attends and participates in these events and as a result we have adopted and subsequently modified policies that significantly restricted Temple activities.  In light of evolving scientific knowledge, developing public health data, and revised guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) we are again updating our policy in phases and in a manner that  balances the values of Kedushah – sanctity, Mishpachah – family, and Pikuach Nefesh – the preservation of life.

As over the last year and a half, this updated policy and our practices will be reviewed continually by the Temple Sinai Reopening Committee, with the oversight of the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees, based on and subject to guidelines and statistics from the CDC, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, and other governmental authorities and directives.

In this document, we describe the next phase of Temple Sinai’s COVID planning: namely our Phase IV Reopening Plan and Guidelines.  In light of evolving science, CDC, Commonwealth, and local recommendations, and consideration of our Jewish values, the transition from Phase III (begun August 5) to Phase IV (November 5) reflects appropriate precautions for in-person gatherings at Temple Sinai.

Please note that due to the rapidly-developing public health situation, the Board has delegated approval of further modifications to the Executive Committee.


  • Fully vaccinated” means at least 2 weeks after the second shot of a 2-shot regimen, such as Pfizer or Moderna, and after the single shot for a 1-shot regimen, such as Johnson & Johnson. “Temple Sinai property” includes, but is not limited to, 5505 Forbes Avenue (buildings and grounds) and the Temple Sinai Memorial Park.

  • Anyone attending an in-person event (indoors or outdoors) or otherwise on the premises at Temple Sinai:

    • must be fully vaccinated, with the exception of children under the age of 12, for whom a vaccine is not yet available, and those for whom vaccination is not possible (see below)

    • must wear a mask at all times with only the following exceptions:

      • children under the age of two (2) are not required to wear a mask;

      • the individual leading services may remove the mask only when at the bimah.  This is generally meant to include clergy, others with Executive Committee approval, and the individual celebrating a bar/bat mitzvah (joined by family for the “blessing”).  The podium will be significantly distanced from congregation seating; and

      • clergy and staff when alone in an office.

  • Signs will advise all individuals that by entering Temple Sinai grounds they are asserting that (a) they have been fully vaccinated,  (b) they will wear a mask at all times, (c) they are not experiencing symptoms of COVID, (d) they are not aware of any recent exposure or have had a negative (rapid) COVID test within 3 hours prior to entering the grounds, and (e) they agree to comply with all COVID requirements while on Temple Sinai grounds.  (Exceptions will be made as indicated above.)

  • Temple Sinai will provide masks for those who did not bring one.

  • While Temple Sinai staff will not currently be verifying vaccination or test status, we rely on the honesty of our members and their guests and reserve the right to prohibit entry to anyone for health-related reasons.

  • Those for whom vaccination is not possible should consult with the Executive Director, who, in consultation with the Reopening Committee, will seek accommodations (such as distanced seating) for participation in Temple Sinai events.

Spaces and Technology

  • For the Leebov Sanctuary:

    • The walls on both sides of the “Slate area” will be left open during services, allowing the sanctuary and the Falk Auditorium to form a single space for better air flow and greater distancing for those who wish it.

    • While we are not currently limiting capacity (in most cases), pre-registration will be requested (web form (preferred), email, or phone) for Shabbat services and some other events to support the Executive Director and staff in planning and preparing spaces. We will not refuse entry to those who are unregistered, but will require those who enter to check in, including for purposes of contact tracing as needed.

  • The minyan group will be permitted to meet in the Barnett Chapel and will use hybrid format for services (using a laptop or other computer to videoconference or stream the service).

  • More broadly, hybrid (in person and virtual) programming will be implemented wherever possible going forward.

General Rules for Temple Sinai Gatherings

  • Overall Allegheny County and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania guidance must be followed at all times. It is understood that this guidance may change on short notice or no notice. Note that, based on health conditions, with little or no notice, any indoor or in-person events may be prohibited by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or Allegheny County or modified, limited, postponed, canceled, or reverted to a virtual format by Temple Sinai.

  • Temple Sinai will post signs with directions and reminders, will ensure that hand sanitizer and masks are available, and may designate specific seating areas as conditions dictate.

  • Temple Sinai may check attendee temperatures immediately prior to the start of any event (e.g. on arrival) and deny attendance to anyone who declines to have a temperature check, whose temperature exceeds guidelines, or who is exhibiting symptoms of illness.

  • Attendees will follow clergy directions for safe handling of the Torah, yod, and other artifacts.

  • No food will be allowed at events.  Individual bottled water may be provided.  Note that during this Phase IV, the cooking classes that had resumed during Phase II are suspended.

Mon, January 24 2022 22 Sh'vat 5782