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COVID-19 Updates:

COVID-19 Safety:

Monitor the COVID-19 reports and review websites:

Monitor the Pinellas County Website:

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A Message from our Reopening Task Force
August 3, 2020 Update

The CBI Reopening Task Force continues its work to develop plans to reopen our building safely in accordance with Jewish ethics and state and federal guidelines.  In anticipation of reopening, we have developed health metrics that will be used to determine when reopening is appropriate, deep cleaned the building, stocked up on sanitizer and other supplies, installed Plexiglass shields on the bimah, and written a manual of safe practices.

Many synagogues have chosen to remain closed and continue to have entirely virtual services. The CBI Reopening Task Force desires to take a more nuanced approach, but we want to assure congregants that we will continue live streamed services throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Rabbi Weintraub and the entire CBI leadership and staff continue to work on ways to enhance our virtual services.

The Task Force’s plan is to monitor the number of COVID-19 cases and the infection rate in Pinellas County. If the numbers are trending down and our medical advisors feel the risk is tolerable, we will open the CBI sanctuary to a limited number of worshippers for a portion of the service. Congregants who attend must understand the risk of contracting the virus.

Protocols to be put in place will include: 

  • Masks must be worn at all times in the building.
  • Reservations will be required.
  • There will be no Torah processional and aliyot will be observed away from the bimah.
  • Usual contacts like hand shaking and hugging are to be avoided
  • Congregating in the lobby before and after services is prohibited.

Medical authorities recommend that those over 65 or with chronic medical conditions (including obesity, lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, kidney or liver disease, neurological disorders or the immunocompromised) should refrain from attending shul services.  You should consult with your own physician about your personal situation.

REMEMBER whether you opt to attend these restricted services in the sanctuary or remain home, all services will continue to be live-streamed.  

We need your help to allow us to estimate the number of congregants who are interested in attending services in the sanctuary.   Please complete the survey by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page. We will follow up later with reservation instructions.

We will continue to provide updates.  In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact the CBI office if you have any concerns or suggestions.

Congregation B'nai Israel Reopening Task Force


A Message from our Reopening Task Force
June 25, 2020 Update

CBI’s Reopening Task Force continues to meet with the goal of reopening our synagogue for religious services and education programming as soon as we can provide a reasonably safe place for most congregants.

As we all are hearing on the news, coronavirus cases and deaths in Tampa Bay continue to reach new peaks. Ten days ago, it appeared we could take a few small steps to reopen. At the Task Force’s June 25 meeting, we concluded the increased coronavirus cases make it premature to start reopening. With the assistance of our medical advisors, we established the following metrics to tell us when we can begin a gradual process to reopening services in the sanctuary:
Two consecutive weeks of declining numbers of new cases in Pinellas county and
Two consecutive weeks of percentage positive cases in Pinellas County of 6% or less.

In the meantime, the Task Force has been developing a reopening operating protocol and purchasing supplies so we can be ready when it is safe to return.

We want to assure everyone live streaming will continue until all congregants can feel comfortable returning to the sanctuary.

We regret we cannot provide more positive news at this time. Please reach out to Joel Shane ( if you have questions or want to discuss your concerns.


A Message From our Reopening Task Force     
June 8, 2020

We are writing to give you an update on the activities of CBI’s Reopening Task Force.  The task force has been meeting to create the best protocols to implement as we move forward with plans to reopen our synagogue for religious services and educational programming.  We understand many congregants are eager to return to shul while others remain concerned we may open too soon.  The Task Force is committed to doing all we can to provide a safe space, taking into consideration the principles of Pikuach Nefesh (preservation of life) and the best practices developed by federal, state, local, and medical authorities.

The CBI Reopening Task Force consists of three subgroups, coordinated by President Dorothy Bowser and Task Force Chairman Joel Shane:

  • Our medical advisors (Drs. David LeVine and Larry Feinman), are providing information on the current status of COVID-19 in Pinellas County and guidance on when it will be safe to reopen our doors.
  • The ritual subgroup (Jay Kauffman, Morry Bornstein, and Rabbi Phillip Weintraub), is considering service adaptations that may be required to provide a religious experience that ensures the safety of congregants.
  • The house subgroup (Ari Weisberg and Eileen Richman) is working to prepare the shul to conform to COVID-19 protocols as well as create guidelines for congregants to follow when they are in the building.

Some congregants have questioned whether we are being too cautious. We do not believe so!  We are using an abundance of caution due to the insidious nature of COVID-19.  This virus is especially dangerous because an asymptomatic person can unknowingly spread the virus to other people through ordinary interactions like touching a book or singing. As we have all learned, the effects of being infected are unpredictable and sometimes fatal. Therefore, we must do everything possible to avoid causing harm to anyone entering our sanctuary.

As we plan for reopening, we recognize we cannot provide a guarantee that the space will be 100% safe.  Therefore, in order to accommodate the needs of all congregants, even after the sanctuary is open, we will continue streaming services to accommodate those who do not feel comfortable or whose health conditions prevent them from participating in communal services.

We understand your desires, and we appreciate your patience in these unusually difficult times.  Please reach out to Joel Shane ( if you have questions or want to discuss your concerns.  We look forward to reopening the doors of CBI safely and then being able to come together, side by side, once again.

Stay safe and healthy.

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.

Sat, August 8 2020 18 Av 5780