Living, learning and lunging uninterrupted. Physical separation invites new ways to connect and serve

by | Mar 21, 2020 | Featured

With indefinite closings looming due to the spread of COVID-19, everyone is trying to adjust to new routines and establish a new normal. The goal throughout Jewish Tidewater is to minimize disruption and provide continuity of care and services. Above all, the Jewish community’s top priorities will continue to be the implementation of procedures to keep members safe, connected, and engaged—in that order.

Area congregations have been diligently strategizing all the ways to continue providing spiritual support. Congregation Beth El in Norfolk will be live streaming Shabbat services and using Zoom technology to connect members with the coordination of daily minyan services. Details and updates are available on For more information, contact

Temple Emanuel will use Zoom virtual conferencing for all religious services and religious school from Pre-K to high school. For updates and more information call Gail 757-428-2591 or e-mail A mitzvah mission is in the works for home-bound members who need groceries or medication.

“Doors are closed, but temple life is not shuttered,” is the message conveyed by Ohef Sholom Temple where alternatives to direct physical contact are being implemented daily. At this time, Shabbat services will be broadcast on the OST website and Facebook Live ( Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg looks forward to Torah study and adult learning classes via Zoom. B’nai Mitzvah students, Rabbi Roz, and Cantor Jen Rueben will meet as scheduled via Facetime. Updates are constantly posted and can be accessed by calling 757-625-4295 or visiting the website,

Every Friday at noon on You Tube, Temple Israel will feature an abbreviated pre-recorded service by Rabbi Panitz and Cantor David Proser of KBH.

Religious school is meeting virtually for now.

Use the e-mail address (Please note the aol e-mail address was hacked.) For more information, visit, or call 757-489-4550 Monday through Thursday, 9 am to 5 pm and, Friday, 9 am to 3 pm.

As a gift to your immune system, Tom Purcell, Simon Family JCC fitness director, is bringing the gym to YouTube with exercise videos. A 10-minute pure stretch session, was the first of many videos Purcell will be rolling out over the next few weeks. This particular video helps work out the kinks, some of which the body holds in times of stress and worry. Purcell has big plans to keep your spirits and fitness routine from sagging—just because the gym is closed.

On the education front, distant learning in the Google classroom is becoming the temporary new normal. Pre-school to 5th grade teachers at Strelitz International Academy use Google Meet, Google Classroom and Google sites—and their creative juices, for home-based assignments and projects in all subjects including science, Hebrew, Library and Computer, and Phys Ed. For example, the second grade’s current science unit is Habitats. In addition to assigning videos to watch, here’s a small example of what distant learning for March 2020 looks like:

Outdoors: Go outside and look for some mini habitats. What could be living under a bush? What about in a tree? Choose one mini habitat to draw and write down the plants and animals you find there. Don’t forget, insects are animals, too! When you go outside, look for evidence of decomposers. If you find some, take a picture and send me the picture. Write what you know about the evidence.

Another challenge of this season is the continuity of care for people who rely on food from the JFS food pantry. Inventory is alarmingly low, and the pantry is in need of cereal, canned fruit, and canned proteins, as well as paper goods and cleaning products. A box has been set up in front of the JCC to receive donations. JFS has volunteers in Norfolk and Virginia Beach who can deliver items if picking up at the JCC is not an option. Visit or contact Jody Laibstain at 757-321-2227 for more information.

– Lisa Richmon

New information will be continually shared via e-mail and on other platforms For updates and more information, go to: and