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Important Community Update (posted May 22, 2020)

To our dear Darkhei Noam community,

These last few months have been some of the most challenging in our community’s history. We also know so many of us are facing difficulties that would have been unimaginable just a few months ago. And in these difficult times, Darkhei Noam has been unavailable in its usual role as a comfortable and comfort-providing place to physically gather, daven and see friends and family. 

As the count of the omer has reached into the 40s, it is important to make clear that we will not meet in-person over Shavuot.

While the New York State and NYC regulations may be relaxing in the days ahead, it’s our shared sense that caution remains prudent and that a Darkhei Noam without broad participation inclusive of women and men is, simply, not Darkhei Noam. 

But even as we won’t be gathering in person in the immediate future, we have begun to explore what new models of community, and communal prayer, may look like in the months ahead. As many others have observed, the unique nature of our and other Jewish communities makes it particularly difficult to return to the same style of services and rates of attendance that we had as recently as a few months ago.

With that in mind, in mid-May, we brought together several of our members of varied backgrounds and demographics to begin discussing the unique challenges that this moment presents a community like ours and how we might move forward. Importantly, biomedical insights were provided by committee member Lee Feinman, PhD, whose doctoral work focused on human immune responses to RNA viruses originating in bats.

Together, we’ve aligned on these shared principles that will guide us as we navigate the transition from full closure to a new normal:

  • Safety of our members and the priority of human life are paramount. We will not compromise our sense that halakha requires us to act with the utmost care.
  • Darkhei Noam’s identity as a partnership minyan is fundamental to the community itself. We will remain committed to tefillah rooted in Orthodox halakha that is meaningful, spiritual and inclusive, and that encourages the active participation of both men and women in the ritual life of the community.
  • Respect for the dignity of all members requires us to proactively communicate and enforce clear guidelines for safe gatherings, including who can attend, locations for meeting, times, protective gear and any other policies deemed necessary.
  • Sustaining our community means exercising care for members who may need to further delay participating in in-person events to protect their health; even as some of us may be able to gather in-person, we will continue to make every effort to be inclusive of those who won’t be able to join us in person.

These principles mean we may not be the first or fastest to reopen. Due care means that things will almost certainly not be “normal” for quite some time. It even means that -- sadly -- we expect where, how, and how many of us may gather for the Yamim Noraim will likely be impacted. 

As we think about a path forward, we believe strongly that these principles are the ones that will best protect the essential character of our community, and our members. 

We feel heartened by the continued strength of Darkhei Noam. Even amid the serious challenges these past months have presented, we’ve found new and wonderful ways to remain connected each week. We’ve launched daily services (with a minyan that arrives promptly), regular shiurim, game nights, listening circles and book clubs. 

We’ve even improvised ways to maintain Darkhei Noam’s most prominent role as a place for Shabbat services with Tot Tefillah, Kabbalat Shabbat and Havdalah. 

So many members of this community have quietly stepped forward, doing countless acts of chesed. Their kindness has helped those who needed a hand, were dealing with medical challenges and those who were, unfortunately, grieving the loss of a loved one during this time.

For all of this, we owe tremendous thanks to each person who has joined in connecting us in both new and traditional ways.

As we continue to explore and strategize, we wanted to offer some transparency on how we’re approaching the path ahead.

Any decision we make will be subject to constant review and improvement. It is sadly possible that any reopening could be followed by another shutdown as the local health situation changes. We all cannot wait to be back together but the health and safety of our community and the residents of our neighbors are of the utmost importance and we will continue to be guided by that as our first priority.

As this discussion continues, we will continue to update you. We are not limiting ourselves to any particular options and as the situation rapidly changes, we will adapt quickly and safely.

We thank you so much for your continued membership and your patience until we can finally meet together in person. We hope that, until then, the virtual community we have built will continue to offer some solace and inspiration. We once again want to share how grateful we are to be part of a community that -- even in such a difficult moment -- continues to be so caring and vibrant.

If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out to

Thank you,
Allie Alperovich
Avi Zollman
Lee Feinman
Eric Hecht
Gabi Lupatkin
David Rendsburg
Naomi Steinberger

Fri, May 29 2020 6 Sivan 5780