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COVID-19 Updates:

Reopening Task Force Meeting Report

The CBI Reopening Task Force met on September 30, 2021.  

The Task Force is pleased that the current health protocols seem to have performed well during High Holidays and Sukkot.  No one reported contracting COVID at CBI during the Holidays, and we were able to accommodate as many as 100 people at each service comfortably and distanced.  Congregants are commended for adhering to the mask and distancing rules.

The Task Force knows that most CBI members have COVID concerns. The Task Force will continue to take small steps toward returning the congregation to normal operations while balancing our Jewish ethics to preserve life.

Beginning Saturday, October 9, a light Kiddush of beverages and packaged snacks will be offered in the CBI courtyard following Shabbat morning services and in-person morning minyans.

The Reopening Task Force will closely monitor local COVID infection rates and scientific studies.  Changes to CBI’s health protocols will be made as conditions warrant.  The Task Force thanks everyone for their cooperation.





Fellow congregants,

I have been asked to review our synagogue’s COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming High Holidays.

As you are likely aware, ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Task Force was formed to provide guidance to the congregational leaders and clergy to maintain the safety of all of our spiritual community.  I’ve been a member of this Task Force since its inception, along with another physician, Rabbi Weintraub, synagogue President Joel Shane, past-president Dorothy Bowser and 6 other synagogue members.  I am proud that, despite the devastation this pandemic has wrought – and tragically continues to wreak – we have had no transmission of COVID-19 within the synagogue.  As we look to the upcoming holidays, we have 2 goals in mind. 

The first goal is to provide an in-person service experience for those who meet certain requirements; the second, which is of vital importance, is to assure the safety of each other as well as the safety of our clergy.

Joel Shane has already outlined some of the precautions that we are taking in a letter that was enclosed with your tickets, such as the requirement that all congregants be masked at all times, as well as assuring additional distancing between non-related congregants.  Regarding masking, every attendee over the age of two is required to wear a mask over both the nose and mouth.  In the midst of this wave of infections, with rising hospitalizations and continued mortality, our Jewish commandment to preserve life at all costs must take precedence over politeness.  Any congregant not wearing a mask properly (covering both the nose and mouth) will be asked to leave immediately.

One remaining question is whether all congregants in the sanctuary must be vaccinated.  The Task Force has had many debates about whether we should mandate vaccinations.  Everyone on the Task Force agreed that all eligible congregants should be fully vaccinated.  On the other hand, some congregation members believe that vaccination is a personal decision, and we trust that our congregants will do what’s right for the congregation.  To that end, and directed at our unvaccinated members, I want to remind you that COVID-19 is a dangerous virus that has infected over 37,000,000 people and resulted in over 600,000 deaths in the U.S.  It is an insidious disease; people carrying and spreading the virus may have no idea that they are infected.  Having been in hospital leadership since the beginning of this pandemic, I have seen firsthand the devastation and agony that this disease causes.  The current strain of the virus that is circulating in our community, the “delta variant” is far more contagious than the original strain, and has resulted in overwhelming numbers of hospital admissions and ICU stays – far more than the original strain – especially among the unvaccinated. On a personal note, if you remain unvaccinated, I implore you to get vaccinated, and am more than willing to discuss that with you privately.  

Our Jewish value of pikuach nefesh commands that the saving of a life is a commandment transcending virtually all others.  Therefore, it is my recommendation that congregants who are not fully vaccinated (defined as at least 2 weeks having passed following receiving the second of a two-dose regimen or a single dose of a one-dose regimen) join our services remotely to protect themselves and our religious community.  Any unvaccinated congregant who, despite this recommendation, plans on attending services, in order to assure the safety of themselves and others, should have a COVID-19 test done no more than 72 hours prior to the service.  Further, it is expected that you will sit in the area designated in the Social Hall for unvaccinated congregants. 

To all congregants, if you are concerned about the health risks in attending in-person services, we encourage you to stay home and participate in CBI’s live stream services. We pray that next year we can all be side-by-side at CBI.

To everyone, I wish you l’shana tova.  

Dr. Larry Feinman
Larry Feinman recently retired as Chief Medical Officer for HCA West Florida.  In that role, he oversaw patient safety and clinical quality at 15 hospitals in the Tampa Bay Region, including those hospitals’ COVID responses in order to safeguard patients and staff through the pandemic.  Larry and his wife Sheryl have been CBI members for 30 years.





The Board of Trustees has real concerns about the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in our Congregation.  Last week, we instituted a mask mandate for everyone who enters CBI.  The decision was made in an effort to protect us all, This week the Board has approved the suspension of all food events until the COVID numbers in our greater community improve.  Accordingly, the Burgers & Brews event, Sukkot dinners, Suds in the Sukkah, and Shabbat morning mini-Kiddush have been cancelled.


Congregants will receive a credit on their CBI account if payment was made to CBI for Burgers & Brews.
The Board understands the disappointment caused by the cancellation of these events.  Please know that this decision was not taken lightly, but rather because, in accordance with our Jewish ethics, the Board felt it must act prudently and do what is necessary to protect the health of our congregants.  As the Covid situation changes these mandates will be revisited.

We expect no significant changes, other than mask wearing, at our Shabbat and High Holiday services. Next week, congregants will receive their High Holiday tickets and information about High Holiday services.





In keeping with the most recent CDC guidelines, we are excited to allow our fully vaccinated congregants (those who are 2 weeks or more from the final vaccine [Moderna or Pfizer] or the single vaccine [Johnson and Johnson]) to enter the synagogue without the need for masking or social distancing.  Of course, if you are vaccinated but feel more comfortable wearing a mask, you are certainly welcome to do so.  


In keeping with CDC guidance, we expect those who are not vaccinated either by personal choice or medical necessity to continue to mask and socially distance at all times while in the building. We will maintain a section of the sanctuary to allow safe social distancing and expect our unvaccinated congregants to remain masked at all times.  This will allow those who are unvaccinated to be protected from potential COVID-19 exposure and infection.


Other COVID restrictions will be lifted in coming weeks. For example, congregants will be allowed on the bima for honors, the Torah procession will be reinstated, and capacity restrictions in the sanctuary have been relaxed.


Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.




The CBI Reopening Task Force thanks everyone who participated in the recent COVID survey.  The survey indicated many congregants desire religious services to be open to all worshippers, not just to vaccinated ones.  The Task Force strongly recommends that all congregants receive vaccinations if their health allows.

With COVID new cases decreasing and community vaccinations increasing, the Reopening Task Force further liberalized the health protocols for Shabbat services in our sanctuary.

  • Sanctuary capacity is expanded to 100 participants.
  • Reservations will no longer be required to attend Shabbat or Shavuot services.

We request that congregants continue wearing masks in the building.  Live streaming of services will continue.

The Task Force will continue to monitor CDC and local health updates and implement those guidelines in accordance with Jewish ethics in order to ensure congregants’ health and safety.


We are continuing to hold Torah services in the Benstock Family sanctuary each Saturday morning.  In addition, we will continue livestreaming services for those who wish to participate from home.  

The Reopening Task Force continues to review the health protocols.  The Task Force is confident that the size of the sanctuary allows for sufficient separation between congregants, which along with other protocols (such as masks, time limits in the sanctuary, and number of participants) allow congregants who are comfortable to attend services safely in the sanctuary.

The Task Force reminds congregants that reservations are required for attendance in the sanctuary for the following reasons:

  • Reservations provide CBI with the names of attendees and who to contact if after the service, we discover that someone in attendance was ill with COVID.
  • It also allows CBI to know in advance the number of attendees and whether we have reached our capacity of allowing fifteen worshippers (in addition to CBI Staff) to be in attendance.

The Task Force continues to review its protocols and will be making the following changes:

  • Children will be allowed to attend services in the sanctuary when accompanied by an adult.  The children must be masked, stay in their seats, and be supervised by the accompanying adult.  
  • Congregants attending service in the sanctuary are asked to now arrive between 9:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.


The Reopening Task Force continues to meet and evaluate the Covid -19 situation.

The COVID-19 infection rate in Pinellas County now exceeds the Task Force’s guidelines for Shabbat services in the sanctuary. However, the Task Force believes that the health protocols in place are sufficient to allow us to continue services for interested Congregants . CBI’s current protocols limit attendance to 15 registered worshippers who are masked and well distanced when in the sanctuary. The service modifications include: aliyot are recited below the bima and all Torah processions have been eliminated. If you consider yourself to be part of a high-risk population it might be best for you to continue to participate from home.

Remember that Congregants can now use the Quick Links on CBI’s Home Page to register for the next four Shabbat morning services. Additional information about the protocols is on the registration form.


A Update from the Reopen Task Force
September 1, 2020

We are pleased to announce a limited reopening of services in CBI’s Benstock Family Sanctuary as a result of Pinellas County’s COVID-19 numbers decreasing below the Reopening Task Force’s metrics.

The sanctuary re-opening will be highlighted this weekend by Willow Dantowitz’s bat mitzvah, and seating will be limited to guests of the family.  Future Saturday morning and holiday services will be open to up to 25 congregants with confirmed reservations.  Make your reservation at for high holiday services and at for Saturday morning services.  Additional information will be found on the reservation forms.

Since COVID-19 infections continue to be a serious health issue, precautions such as masks and socially distanced seating will be required, and it is recommended that individuals with health concerns remain home.  All services will continue to be live streamed.

The Reopening Task Force will continue to monitor the COVID situation.  If Pinellas County’s COVID’s numbers exceed our metrics, we will be required to close the sanctuary for services again.

A Message from our Reopening Task Force
August 21, 2020

The number of COVID-19 infections and the infection rate in Pinellas County continue to decrease. As mentioned in the last update, the Reopening Task Force rehearsed the new COVID-19 protocols during last week’s Shabbat service. This Shabbat, we will have another “rehearsal” with a small group of people.

We are pleased to report that as long as Pinellas County COVID-19 numbers remain low, we will commence weekly Saturday morning services in the CBI sanctuary shortly. Although these services will be open to all members, we can allow a maximum of 25 worshippers in order to protect Rabbi, Cantor, and congregants. Reservations will be required. Watch for an email with details and a reservation form.

If there is sufficient interest, morning minyan services in shul will commence soon.

We know that for health and safety reasons most members would rather live stream services from their homes. This will continue. By having services with a minyan in the sanctuary, we are able to add a full Torah service for everyone to enjoy both in the sanctuary and at home.

Many members have inquired about High Holiday Services in our physical building. If Pinellas County COVID-19 numbers stay within CBI’s metrics, we plan to observe High Holiday Services in our Benstock Family Sanctuary as well as virtually. The sanctuary services will be reservation only and limited to 25 worshippers at each day’s service. A reservation form and more details will be emailed in early September.

Interested in prayer at home, but don’t have a Siddur?
The Rabbinical Assembly has made portions of Weekday and Shabbat services available from both our Siddur Sim Shalom as well as their Siddur Lev Shalem - with more coming soon. This copyrighted material is for personal use only.  As these files have Gd's name in them, please print and handle with respect.
Download your prayer book using this link.

Looking for a Hebrew only Siddur? 
The Masorti Movement in Israel has an app for that available for iPhone here.

The Talmud (Ketubot 8b) records the prayer of Reish Lakish:
“Master of the worlds, redeem and save, rescue and deliver Your people, Israel, from the pestilence and from the sword…  and from all types of afflictions that suddenly erupt and come to the world. Before we call You are already responding. Blessed are You, Adonai, Who halts the plague.”

We pray for healing for those who are ill and for health and wellness for us, our communities, and all people.

Mon, June 27 2022 28 Sivan 5782