OAK PARK–Temple Ner Simcha in Westlake Village is beginning its annual weekly outdoor Shabbat services this Friday, July 10 at 7 p.m. at Deer Hill Community Park (6700 Doubletree Road, Oak Park). The services will continue throughout the summer and observe appropriate social distancing and other safety measures in order to keep the community safe.
The Westlake synagogue is additionally accepting reservations for their live High Holiday services, which have no mandatory financial cost for tickets. Although there will be streaming available for older and at-risk congregants, the High Holiday services will be observed live; also utilizing appropriate health safety measures and social distancing.
“Religious services are ideally meant be fully experienced, not just watched on a computer screen”, said Rabbi Michael Barclay, the Spiritual Leader of Ner Simcha. “Our outdoor Shabbat Under the Stars services in the park are in an open space with plenty of room for people to be consciously distant. We are having twice as many High Holiday services so that we will have fewer participants at a time in the sanctuary and can ensure social distancing at each service; and will be practicing all other methods and precautions to keep everyone safe and healthy as well.”
Cantor Sam Glaser expressed his thoughts about having live in-person High Holiday services. “I am concerned for the many synagogues opting to go virtual this year, and I fear their constituents will not be inspired and may not come back the following year. I’m proud to stand with Rabbi Barclay in this challenging time, offering this wonderful community the opportunity for transcendence that is only possible live, in person. Of course, proper care will be taken to prevent the spread of the virus. The Jewish High Holidays are crucial to open the year with spirituality, humility, repentance, and empowerment. We’ll be safe, we’ll be together, and we’ll be moved in prayer together.”
Rabbi Barclay continued, “In the same way that all of our services have armed security to keep people physically protected in these challenging times, we will be having all appropriate safety measures in place to keep everyone protected from the contagion. And we will also be offering limited streaming availability for those people who, because of age or health conditions, really should not leave their home. Synagogues throughout history have kept their doors open during challenges ranging from plagues to the Nazis, and while we keep having live services, we also need to be aware and careful in how we conduct ourselves so that our bodies are protected while our spirits are uplifted.”
Temple Ner Simcha is the first non-Orthodox synagogue in the nation with no membership dues; cost for live High Holiday services; Bar/Bat Mitzvah training; or any programming. The Shabbat Under the Stars services begin this Friday, July 10 and continue through Labor Day. More information on the services, the protective measures being taken, or to register for the High Holiday services can be found on the temple website, www.NerSimcha.org