The pandemic has disrupted and interrupted so many aspects of life, including how we practice our faith. With the arrival of the vaccine, we all hope and pray that soon we will be permitted to once again come together en masse in our houses of worship. But will we choose to?
Congregational leaders everywhere are asking themselves that question. The hundreds of Orthodox Union synagogues across the country closed very early in the pandemic before such closures were mandated by government. Beginning in the late spring, the vast majority of those synagogues safely reopened in a limited manner, carefully adhering to local regulations and best practices for public health, requiring masks and social distancing. Yet, with the resultant limitations of capacity, the desire of many to be extra careful and stay home, and the many who have organized themselves into outdoor neighborhood prayer groups, there is a concern in the air: Yes, the people are praying. Religious life continues for many of our congregants in their homes and backyards. They are taking advantage of innumerable outstanding religious study opportunities available online. But will they ever come back to the synagogue? Finally, what can congregational leaders do to ensure that they do?
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.