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Frequently Asked Questions

last updated on September 14, 2021

As we move into the High Holydays, we are focused on creating an experience that is both meaningful and safe for all members of our community, with the guiding principle of protecting the most vulnerable among us, both old and young. First and foremost, we are a community and we take care of one another.


We are conscious of both the desire and spiritual need to reconnect in person, as well as the ways in which the pandemic continues to evolve. In creating the High Holydays guidelines, we have considered many ways in which the risks from the delta variant have changed our expectations. Unfortunately,we are now faced with rising case numbers, the increased vulnerability of children who are not eligible for vaccination, and the ability of vaccinated people to carry and transmit delta variant. While we are not yet able to celebrate exactly as we did in years past, we hope that following these guidelines will allow is to be together safely, as a community.

Where are High Holyday services taking place this year?

Erev Rosh Hashanah, 1st day Rosh Hashanah, Kol Nidre, and Yom Kippur services will be taking place at Gann Academy. Adult services will be located in the gym, which has an overall capacity of 1000+ with attendance capped at approximately 1/3 capacity. Both children's services and day care will be located outdoors under canopies.


What are gym-compatible shoes?

Gann Academy has strict rules about what kind of shoes may be worn in their main gym. Sneakers, light-soled shoes, and rubber-soled shoes are fine; however, please leave the following at home: high heels (especially stilettos), wooden-heeled shoes, and dark-soled (non-rubber) shoes. You are also quite welcome to leave your shoes at the door and come in socks!

Is it just for CDT members, or is the general public invited, too?

We welcome pre-registered members and pre-registered non-members alike.

Is vaccination required? If so, do I need to provide proof?

Vaccination is required to attend in-person in order to protect those in our community who are vulnerable and/or unable to be vaccinated. We are trusting one another to adhere to these requirements, and we will not be asking for vaccination cards. We kindly request non-vaccinated individuals to participate masked outdoors or from home on-line via live stream and/or Zoom. 


Is testing required?

Testing is not required for attendees, due to feasibility constraints. Rabbi Toba and others leading unmasked on the bimah will be tested prior to services.

Do we have to wear masks both indoors and outdoors?

Yes, we will require them of all attendees and staff indoors and outdoors. 

We are asking all participants to be masked at both indoor and outdoor events in order to protect the most vulnerable in our community. When outdoors, we may not be able to social distance, and therefore are requiring masks.

This requirement keeps us in compliance with public health best practices to have all gatherings meet at least 2 of the following conditions: social distancing, masking, and being outdoors. Indoors, we will practice social distancing and wear masks. Outdoors, where audio logistics make distancing more challenging, we will wear masks.

The one exception will be Rabbi Toba and other prayer leaders, who will be tested before each service and will lead from the bimah unmasked.

What about the kids? why? 

Kids under 12 will be masked outdoors at all times. They will not be attending High Holyday events indoors out of an abundance of caution for this unvaccinated age group, and the recognition that even vaccinated people are able to transmit the delta variant.

When and where will childcare be offered this year?

Childcare for mids aged 3 - 13 will be provided OUTDOORS during the following service times

  • Rosh Hashanah Day 1, Tuesday, September 7th, immediately following the 10:00am youth services and until the conclusion of main services, roughly 12:15pm. 

  • Yom Kippur Day, Thursday, September 16th, immediately following the 10:00am youth services and until the conclusion of main services, roughly 12:30pm.  Childcare will resume on Yom Kippur from approximately 5:00pm - 7:00pm.

Youth/family services and childcare will be provided outdoors at Gann Academy under canopies.  In the case of severe inclement weather, these services will be held online.

Will the childcare staff be masked?

They, like the kids, will be masked. All childcare staff have been vaccinated. 


Can we have our kids sit with us in the main service?

Unfortunately, no, but it is our hope that you will attend their services with them, and afterwards feel free to leave them in childcare as you attend the main service without them. Should your child need you, a member of the childcare staff will escort your child to wait outdoors by the back gym entrance.


Why are outdoors services not happening for the main service then?

We researched possibilities for gathering outdoors and for a number of reasons realized it was not logistically feasible to gather outdoors in large numbers in a satisfying way.  To gain the health advantage of being outdoors entails the possibility of being disrupted by severe weather, which unfortunately is becoming very common (that is, if you are in a tent with the sides down, you are functionally indoors, and canopies alone provide limited shelter from strong wind, rain, and thunderstorms).  The cost and logistics involved in putting on outdoor services that might have to be shut down on short notice did not warrant the extravagant cost it would have entailed.

What about singing? Can we sing while attending the service, and will CDT sings be performing live? why?

CDT Sings is being fitted with special choir masks for added protection so that they can add their voices to our services. We invite all attendees to sing if  comfortable doing so, with the caveat that it is best not to belt out full volume. Rabbi Toba and our other service leaders will be tested before the service and will be unmasked while they lead. 

What happens for the shofar service?

The shofar service will be outside as part of the 4:30pm Tashlikh service.

What will seating be like? Is it in pods?

We will set out chairs in random groups of 2-7. These groups of chairs will NOT be pre-assigned. We will leave it to our attendees to sit in a group of chairs that matches the number of attendees in their pod, adding a chair or combining 2 groups of chairs if necessary to accommodate the exact number of people in their party. If you are coming alone and would like to join another individual or small group, please ask their permission before joining them. Ushers can also help with this.

How will food be handled? Are we having a break-fast?

Kiddush and break-fast will be served following services, outdoors at Gann Academy. There will NOT be a buffet. Rather, there will be smaller platters on individual tables so that social distancing can take place comfortably as people take off their masks to eat.


What kind of masks are good or bad, and why?

General advice is that masks should have a minimum of two layers, and must be kept over the nose as well as mouth to offer protection.


What are the benchmarks for going to Zoom?

We will make any decisions about transitioning to Zoom by the Thursday prior to the Holyday, and we will clearly communicate any changes to the congregation and registered guests. In making this decision, we will focus on two criteria: 

  1. If any state or local regulations go into effect limit the number for indoor gatherings below our attendance capacity, we will move to Zoom. We will follow these guidelines even if religious institutions are listed as exempt from the regulations

  2. We will closely monitor data from both the CDC and COVID Act Now (coordinated by the Harvard Chan School of Public Health). If either Middlesex or Suffolk counties move to the “substantial” CDC category or “very high” COVID Act Now  category, we will move to Zoom. 


Final Note on September 14, 2021
Our CDT Re-entry Protocol Committee, we had adopted the principal that if either Middlesex or Suffolk were in the High Category—that would be a reason to not hold services. That was a judgment call by the Committee—not a hard and fast public health recommendation. 

However, when we look at the lower actual reported case levels in Newton, Waltham and Watertown where about 60% of our Membership come from, we have decided to continue to offer services inside at Gann—given that the risk in those communities has not appreciably changed.

Mon, September 27 2021 21 Tishrei 5782