Union for Reform Judaism Member Congregation

UT Covid-19 Information: Synagogue Closure & Livestreaming

Given the rapidly changing facts on the ground and guidance we have received from public health officials, we have made the difficult decision to close the Union Temple building for all synagogue programming, including Religious School, Preschool, and Shabbat Services, until May 15. We will be reassessing this decision as new information and guidance becomes available and determining whether we can re-open at that time.

Our staff will work remotely, however the process for contacting us should not be disrupted. You will be able to contact the synagogue by calling 718- 638-7600 between the hours of 8:30AM and 4:30PM. You will be prompted to select your department and you may Press 1 for Harriet in the Admin office if you are seeking the office or the Rabbi. In the event your call is not directly answered upon your selection, please leave your message. Calls will be returned as quickly as possible. You will also be prompted on how to contact the Rabbi in the event of a death or other life cycle emergency. Calls received after hours will be returned the next morning.

As we practice “physical distancing” in order to protect one another, we are deeply committed to “spiritually connecting.” We all need it now more than ever. Below, you will find some changes to our schedule and some ways to connect. Note: These are changes from even this week’s recent letter.

Changes to our Programming:

  • Friday night Shabbat services will be conducted virtually, using Zoom. Click the link and register to participate and use this virtual prayer book, Mishkan Tefilah, to follow along.
  • Saturday morning Shabbat services will be postponed until we re-open.
  • All of our early childhood programming, including Friday’s @ 4 and Out of the Shabbox, will take place virtually on our Zoom Channel. Use the links to register for sessions through May.
  • While our Religious School is temporarily suspended, look for some exciting and interesting online learning opportunities from Caryn, our Director of Youth and Family Engagement!
  • Saturdays enjoy Shabbat and Shmooze. 1:30PM on our Zoom Channel. Bring your lunch and interact with one another. Talk, eat, and learn with members of our UT community.
  • Postponed:
    o Friday, March 27th Fourth Friday program on Genealogy is postponed.
    o Sunday, March 29th An die Musik NYC is postponed.
    o Youth Group Programming is postponed.

Spiritual Connecting:

  • We will be using the virtual platform of Zoom for our Shabbat services. We can connect you to a helpful volunteer who will assist you in using Zoom and can show you how to find us! Let us know you need help by emailing: UTFuture@uniontemple.org. We can even help you get online by tonight!
  • If you are over 65 or are particularly at risk in this moment, we want to check in with you! You can expect to hear from a Union Temple member to see how you are doing and how we can support you. If you can make a call to one of our Union Temple family members, please let Rabbi Kolin know at rabbi.kolin@uniontemple.org.
  • These are difficult times. The Institute for Jewish Spirituality has made some beautiful meditative tools free and available to everyone who is seeking a sense of peace, wholeness, and connectedness.
  • Keep an eye on our website and your inbox for opportunities for distance learning and connecting in the weeks ahead.

We know this decision is hard on each of us in different ways and we hold you in our hearts through all of it. By proceeding in this way right now, you are participating in one of the greatest mitzvot in Jewish tradition – the commandment of pikuach nefesh, which guides us to protect life, above all else. Because we value one another and each human being so very much, we are enacting our social and ethical responsibility to keep each other healthy and to help “flatten the curve,” in order to slow down the spread of COVID-19, so that our healthcare system can effectively provide the care that each sick person will need.

With love and prayers for health,

Rabbi Stephanie Kolin

Union Temple Board of Trustees


How Can I Be Part of Virtual Shabbat  at 6:30pm?

As we go virtual for Shabbat services for the time being, while we will be physically distant, our highest priority is to be spiritually connected and close.

Here is how you can join us and what you can expect!

  • We will be livestreaming via Zoom for Friday night services. Using Zoom we can see one another and chat and we all can be part of the service. Turn up your sound and sing along! All ages welcome, as always!
  • When we use Facebook Live if you click “like” on the Union Temple Facebook Page, then when our Facebook Live Stream begins, you will get a notification.
  • Through the generosity of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, you can follow along for free in our virtual prayer book. Tip: click on the page number at the bottom to plug in the pages that Ben and I call out. You can also buy it discounted for Kindle here. And there’s a sweet kid’s version here.
  • You can make comments and talk to each other during the service, too, to let others know you’re there!
  • If you need help using the technology, we are here to help. Email UTFuture@uniontemple.org and we will connect you with someone who will call you and talk you through it!
  •  What to expect: Well, we’re not sure! Ben and I are new to this moment as well. We will talk with you, light Shabbat candles, sing a bunch, offer some words of Torah, and love on each other through the airwaves. It might get awkward at times, it may get silly, it may be emotional. Be with us as we figure this out and let us know how it can be better going forward (some time over the weekend and maybe not right away)!

We know this is very hard; hugging and hand shaking and looking into one another’s eyes are part of who we are and are deeply embedded in what it means to be a Jewish community. To keep each other safe, though, we will do what we have to do. We will hold each other up, mitigate our sense of isolation and anxiety, and bring joy to one another.

May this Shabbat offer you calm, hopefulness, and the comfort that our love for humanity will guide our steps in these days.

With blessings for health,

Rabbi Stephanie Kolin