Coronavirus Update, April 16, 2020

With an abundance of caution and to ensure the health and safety of our staff, the Synagogue building is closed at least through the duration of the Illinois shelter-in-place order.

Our devoted staff will be working from home and messages via phone and email will be responded to within 24 hours.

If you need any assistance, you may call Marc Fargotstein at 847-612-6579 or contact Executive Director Nancy Kleine Kekst at 216-789-2452. The Rabbi is also available on his cell phone 847-525-7746 at any time.

Upcoming Worship Services Online via Zoom!

  • Shabbat Evening Service, Friday April 17, 7:30 p.m.

  • Yom Ha'Shoah Service, Monday, April 20, 7:30 p.m.

Access codes are shared via Shir Hadash emails and newsletter. Please fill out the form at the bottom of this web page to request an access code.

Communication Channels

We will continue our email blasts to congregants at least twice a week: our regular weekly roundup on Tuesdays and the Synagogue newsletter on Thursday mornings, plus additional information as needed and late breaking developments.

A note about ZOOM meetings: ZOOM has updated their security protocols, and has instituted passwords for scheduled events. We will give you links that include the passwords, and also provide you with separate passwords and call in numbers if you need. We are using ZOOM as our primary method of delivering Services and other events, which allows for better participation than the Facebook platform.  If you need ZOOM assistance, let us know and we will have someone contact you. For now, please advise us if you are unable to participate in a video conference either on a tablet, smartphone, computer or other similar device. If so, we can make arrangements to allow you to participate. We also have congregants who can help you get connected. Just drop us a line or call the office!.

For those congregants who do not have computer access, the staff will be making telephone check-in calls.


Another primary way to stay in touch with members is through our closed (private) Facebook group, Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Synagogue - Current Members. You need to have a Facebook account to access this group. It’s a great way to watch live streamed services. If you're having a problem creating a Facebook account, contact Nancy Kleine Kekst 216-789-2452, Marc Fargotstein 847-612-6579 or Karen Burnham 847-714-6946 and we will help you.

Also please follow —and encourage your friends to follow — our Shir Hadash General Community page.

And to learn more about Facebook or ZOOM, search for and watch free instructional videos at If you need a device to help you connect to these sites, or need one-on-one assistance on how to connect, please call the office and leave a message. We will seek ways to help you.

March 12, 2020

Dear Shir Hadash Family,

By now you have received considerable news regarding about the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The leadership of Shir Hadash has formed a panel of our staff and lay leaders and I would like to share with you our decisions regarding our commitment to the health and safety of our membership, staff, guests and community.We have been monitoring the news which changes by the hour. We have made changes to our activity schedule as part of our effort to keep everyone healthy and safe.These decisions include the cancellation of some programs and the implementation of changes in some of our religious practices. These actions are taken out of an abundance of caution. I ask for your patience and understanding as we try to ensure the safety and well-being of our members.

We also want to let you know that we do NOT know of any member of our community that has been exposed to or been infected by the Coronavirus. We are taking these and other steps to ensure as best as we can that remains the case.

Effective immediately:

  • We are postponing religious school until April 19, 2020. A separate communication is being sent to our school community with the details of this closure.

  • We will continue Religious Services, but with the following adjustments.

    • All services will be streamed via the Facebook site. Look for “Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Synagogue - Current Members’ in Facebook Groups.

    • We strongly recommend this method of attendance for members, especially who are either in “high risk” categories for this disease or in close contact with these individuals.

    • There will be no food or Oneg served in the building until further notice.

  • Please check our Calendar (Web Site or App) for the latest information.

  • Our office remains open and staffed by our employees and volunteers. We request that only essential visits to the building take place until further notice. Where possible, please conduct business via telephone, email or mail.

  • Stay home when you are sick, especially if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms or fever. Contact a healthcare professional for guidance before resuming participation in our activities.

  • We have added antiviral hand sanitizer dispensers in offices, classrooms and public areas. We will be reviewing our housekeeping processes to ensure we are following best practice cleaning protocols.

  • Please refrain from hugging, kissing and even handshaking during this season. Instead, we hope that you will consider using words to express that you are glad to see each other or try other gestures such as an elbow tap and we also are encouraging “Social Distancing” when seated.

  • If you are seeking basic information about Coronavirus, we recommend you visit the CDC’s Coronavirus Disease main page. Also, CDC's guidance on preparing your home for the possibility of COVID-19 may be a good resource for your family.

  • Our non-religious activities that can be converted to “virtual” meetings (teleconference, videoconference or streaming) will continue at the discretion of the host or presenter. Board and committee meetings will continue in this manner. Information on other activities follow in our next communication.

  • Non-religious activities that cannot be converted to “virtual” meetings will be canceled or postponed until further notice. This list currently includes:

  • Lahaka rehearsals have been canceled until further notice.

  • The Gala (May 2) will be postponed until the fall.

  • The Shir Hadash Community Seder (April 9) and Maimoona (April 17 end of Passover celebration) have been canceled

  • The Coffeehouse (May 18) is postponed

  • Israeli Movie Night (April 25) is postponed

  • We will contact the groups or agencies that make use of our space and work with them to determine any appropriate changes.


Our executive board will meet on a regular basis, assisted by the Rabbi, Education Director and Executive Director to monitor the situation. We are receiving regular updates from governmental, healthcare and Jewish organizations. We will use these and other resources to review and adjust our response to this evolving challenge.

Please know that our first priority is the health and safety of our community. We will be communicating with all of you regularly by email, and we will be posting important updates on the Shir-Hadash web site and app. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us through email or the synagogue phone number, 847-498-8218.

We thank you in advance for your patience and your understanding.


Marc Fargotstein M.EdT
Shir Hadash Board President

©2019 Shir Hadash

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200 W. Dundee Road

Wheeling, IL 60090

Phone: (847) 498-8218