For the time being, Shabbat Services will be available by livestream only.
Fridays at 6:00pm
Saturdays at 10:30am
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Please visit ready.nola.gov for up to date information on New Orleans’ response to the coronavirus.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR OUR MEMBERS
Dear Touro Synagogue Family,
To me, it seems like a month since my last email to you and a year since we last joined together for joyful singing and prayer on Shabbat. I must tell you that Friday night, March 6, will stay in my memory like a beautiful painting. The exquisite kindness and spirituality of our community was on full display that night, from congregants giving up their seats for others who had physical limitations, to the enlivening presence of so many precious and unique children, to the congregational voice that rose with an intensity that made the room sparkle. We could not have known that it would be our last time to gather for a long while, but we prayed, sang, laughed, and loved as if we did. Thank you for that cherished memory.
I want to share with you what our community life will be like in the coming weeks. Physical gatherings being impossible at this time, we are determined to find other ways to support one another and to create life-giving moments of transformational prayer, expansive thought, fearless engagement, and love. This is a learning moment for all of us, and we will carry one another through this time.
1) PASTORAL CARE AND LIFECYCLES
As your clergy, we are committed to supporting you during this time. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you would like to make an appointment to talk, or if you are in search of resources for your own spiritual fortification. While we are unable to make in-person pastoral visits, we will make ourselves available via phone, email, Zoom, and other virtual platforms.
For those with planned lifecycle events scheduled during the near-term, we are committed to working with you thoughtfully and sensitively while we discuss options and come up with alternative plans. We have been in touch with many of you already, and will soon be in touch with others. We will officiate funerals in accordance with best practices for health and safety, utilizing our streaming capabilities whenever possible so that communal mourning may take place without additional risk to everyone’s health.
If you are in need of supplies or food, please click here so that our Caring and Mitzvah Committee can do our best to connect you to resources.
If you are willing to add your efforts to our Caring and Mitzvah Committee which will be working to support congregants in need during this particularly difficult time, please email Lisa Keleher.
2) PRAYER AND ADULT LEARNING
Shabbat Services are a central part of Touro Synagogue’s identity, and we will continue to celebrate Shabbat together via livestream. While we cannot fully capture the feeling of being surrounded by voices in the Forgotston Chapel or our magnificent sanctuary or sharing a meal around the table in the Grant Meyer Garden Pavilion, the livestream gives us the opportunity to continue offering Shabbat services as a time when we can gather together.,. Some of those community-building elements will come instead through other modes of engagement.
Looking ahead, we are currently planning a virtual Passover Seder for the evening of Thursday, April 9. Unfortunately, we will not be able to celebrate Jazz Fest Shabbat this year. More information about Passover and Jazz Fest Shabbat will be forthcoming.
It will be important to match our adult learning and other forms of engagement with the rapidly shifting needs of our community. Some adult learning will continue via Zoom as previously scheduled, while we also pursue new options that match our priorities and best fit the strengths of technology. Adult learning that creates a chance for communal connection will be prioritized. As this is new for our clergy and congregants alike, it will be important to be patient and adaptive, especially in the first few weeks.
We currently have prayer books available for pickup during business hours. Please call the Touro office at (504) 895-4843 to make arrangements.
3) YOUTH LEARNING AND ENGAGEMENT
Keeping our families connected to and engaged by Touro Synagogue, the clergy, and each other is our highest priority for the remainder of this school year. While it seems increasingly unlikely that in-person classes will resume before next fall, we are dedicated to providing consistent, meaningful Jewish learning opportunities for all students in all age groups; each and every one of them will continue to have the chance to learn, discuss, sing, practice, and do Judaism from home. We have contacted Religious School and Uptown Hebrew Families directly about the specifics of this continuous learning. Our amazing Religious School faculty is busy preparing to foster community building and continued learning in a myriad of creative ways, and we are grateful for their flexibility and commitment.
For our youngest congregants and their families, the clergy will be creating Zoom Shabbat Rocks! services and other learning modules to entertain, inspire, and connect. Please expect links in upcoming emails for this weekend’s Zoom Shabbat Rocks!. We are also working on outlets for our teens to both continue their learning and to take leadership roles in the facilitation of some of our younger-children offerings. Finally, we are grateful to Anna Herman and Henry S. Jacobs Camp for providing HSJ 365 for wonderful camp family fun at home.
4) SOCIAL JUSTICE
New Orleans currently has the 3rd highest rate of infection per capita in the country. Our Social Justice team has been in close communication within the last week, working on ways to provide our congregation with avenues to support the most vulnerable of our neighbors who will be the hardest hit by this pandemic and our response to it — the necessary shutting down of schools, entertainment venues, and all non-essential businesses. We will send an email very soon that will include specific ways to help.
The Greater New Orleans Foundation has set up a Disaster Relief Fund for New Orleans’ most vulnerable community members. To donate, click here.
Additionally, there is interfaith organizing taking place through Together New Orleans, Together Louisiana and other faith and community-based coalitions. As the goals crystalize, we will communicate with you about action steps. In the absence of normalcy and the presence of chaos, strengthening our structures of democracy and recommitting to preserving human rights becomes even more urgent than in calm moments. It will be fundamental to continue our work in all areas of social justice so that no one is left to fend for themselves in this fraught moment. And this we will do.
5) OPERATIONS AND FISCAL SUSTAINABILITY
Our goal is that the core operations of the synagogue will continue as seamlessly as possible. During these uncertain times, we are working with our staff to create flexible working environments, preparing everyone to be able to work remotely when needed. Our building will require constant care. Our facility staff will continue to care for our building during this time, ensuring that it is secure and that maintenance issues are handled. At this time, we are suspending all tours of our synagogue. We are committed to all our employees, both to their health and to honoring our financial commitment to them. We continue to be able to receive donations and issue payments and are working on next year’s budget as best we can. We deeply appreciate your continued generosity in this regard.
We will, of course, continue to use email as our primary mode of communication with the congregation. Other useful platforms include:
- Zoom: We will use Zoom for meetings, classes, and other gatherings. If you are not familiar with the platform, click here to learn more.
- Facebook: If you are not already connected to Touro through Facebook, please be sure to like our page: TouroSynagogueNOLA
- Touro Synagogue Blog: This will be launched next week. It will include articles, photos, announcements, and inspiration for our congregational family.
In conclusion, though we find ourselves in unprecedented times, our mission endures. Touro synagogue will continue to create an inspiring and inclusive haven for individual, family and communal connection to Reform Judaism and to each other. We are still a Beit Knesset, a home for gathering, though we will surely gather differently. We are still a Beit T’filah, a home for prayer, a Beit Midrash, a home for study, a Beit Tikkun Olam, a home for healing, and most certainly a Beit Ahava, a home for inclusive love, joy and spiritual sustenance. This will never change.
Rabbi Katie Bauman
Cantor Kevin Margolius
Lisa Gurk Herman, President
WELCOME TO TOURO SYNAGOGUE
With historic roots and a progressive heart, Touro Synagogue is a community that is filled with beautiful contradictions – a grand, historic sanctuary and an intimate, embracing chapel; an active group of knowledgeable sages and a vibrant young adult community; a love of enduring Jewish traditions and a drive for spiritual innovation and forward motion; a commitment to the inner life of our congregational family and a constant energetic force that engages with the renewal of greater New Orleans. Please join us as we work together, making Touro Synagogue a place of transformative prayer, expansive thought, fearless engagement, and love.
We value the uniqueness of each congregant and we are committed to providing a community that is inclusive
and accessible. If you or someone in your family requires special accommodations in order to access the fullness of synagogue life, please contact the office at (504) 895-4843.