Temple Menorah, on Milwaukee’s north side, has been holding indoor, in-person services for weeks.
The minyans are held twice weekly, on Sunday and Thursday mornings.
“We did a few outdoor services, and when we were given permission by the city of Milwaukee to re–enter the building, we moved all the furniture out from the Daily Chapel into the lobby so we could social distance,” said Rabbi Gil Ezer Lerer, who leads the shul at 9363 N. 76th St.
The lobby of the synagogue has its own air conditioning and ventilation system, he said.
“I oversee all the disinfecting,” Lerer said. “We sing less, and we move through the service as quickly as possible.”
Many synagogues have chosen to forego indoor and in-person services, but Lerer said he is continuing, at least for now. The first of the services during the pandemic was held in June, he said.
“I hope God gives me the foresight that I make the right decisions,” he said.
“People will go out to their health clubs, to their restaurants and whatnot, but they won’t come to temple? I don’t go to health clubs. I don’t go to stores. I do everything delivery,” he said. “It’s safer to come to Temple Menorah than it is to go to the supermarket.”
The services include social distancing, and everyone wears masks, he said. The congregation also shares the minyans over Zoom. “There are people who are not comfortable going,” Lerer said. Others live out of town.
Synagogues nationwide are navigating a fluid situation in real time, and while many have closed their synagogues to congregants during the pandemic, there are those who are making different choices or experimenting carefully.
“The main thing is that everybody has to be safe and healthy,” Lerer said. He said that if circumstances change, Temple Menorah will shift to a different strategy.
Temple Menorah does not allow the use of electronics on Shabbat, and it is not holding in-person services on Shabbat. Lerer said he has yet to figure out how to handle Shabbat.
The rabbis of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism issued a statement in May allowing the use of electricity for video on Shabbat and holidays. But Temple Menorah is an unaffiliated “traditional” shul, and it is not following the ruling.