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Shaarey Zedek Synagogue Update // COVID 19

posted here May 14,2020

[Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from Shaarey Zedek Synagogue's update dated May 4, 2020 signed by Frank Hechter, President and Ian Staniloff, Executive Director of Shaary Zedek]

Over the last number of weeks, we have been working to mitigate as much as possible the impact on our congregants and community during this pandemic. The need to still be your synagogue during these times was paramount in all our decision making. Our Executive was very mindful in terms of the financial impact this was and continues to be on the well-being of our institution. Obviously, our revenue streams have been affected in many areas. With the closure of the building many events scheduled to take place in our synagogue have either been postponed to later dates or cancelled outright. All Bar / Bat Mitzvahs for May & June have been postponed. Rabbi Leibl, the head of our B'nai Mitzvah program has been working directly with the families impacted by this decision, to reschedule to a more suitable date. Major Dinners, Galas and celebrations scheduled to take place at the shul have been postponed. This includes the Gray Academy Graduation Dinner and Dance, which we were all looking forward to hosting. All the above translates into significant reduced revenues to our Catering department.

Some of our other revenue streams, such as Membership Dues, Donations, Programming Registrations, etc., have all been drastically reduced with the shutdown of the building.

To offset a great deal of this loss in revenues, we have significantly reduced many of our ongoing expenses. It was decided and agreed that rather than layoff some staff with uncertainties as to their expected return, for the short term all staff would have their salaries drastically reduced. We will also be applying to the CEWS (Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy) which should help retain our staff, at least until Mid-June. We have created new, albeit reduced, revenue streams through our catering department. Joel Lafond and staff prepared and supplied significant Passover meals to many of our congregants. After this, he developed a Takeout Menu with Friday pickups, which has been greatly received by many. Thank you to all who are supporting us in this initiative. I encourage you to check out our Takeout Menu on our website if you have not already done so.

Our cemetery operations have not been affected as much by Covid19, as we are still able to perform funerals. However, with the coming of spring it remains to be seen as to how we maintain our cemetery over the summer due to reduced resources. All major projects at the cemetery, which include maintenance and repair of concrete stripping and borders, and headstone repairs are done in the summer months when warm weather better allows for the work. Also, the main tasks of cutting the grass and removal of weeds and diseased trees account for much of the labour expense incurred over the summer. An area yet to be determined will be the planting of flowers on our graves, as this requires a significant amount of money, time and manpower. The Board of Directors in conjunction with the Cemetery committee will need to determine whether this should be a consideration for this year.

With the closing of our building to the public, our expenses have dropped significantly. We want you to know that overall, we are doing okay and are preparing for the safe return to activities in our synagogue and community. Our Executive Committee and senior staff have been working on scenarios and preparing various budgets based upon when and how we emerge from these most unusual times. We are beginning to plan for scheduled B'nai Mitzvahs in the Fall and Spring and have rescheduled many of the earlier events that were postponed. We are now in the planning stages for our upcoming High Holy Days and want you to know that we will do everything possible to ensure we are able to celebrate together in a healthy, safe environment.

We continue to live stream all our services daily and on Shabbat, to greatly increasing numbers. We also have added informational and performance videos all available on Facebook, YouTube, and our website. We are trying to reach out to all our congregants just to ensure their safety and well-being. If you know of someone who needs assistance in any form, please let us know! 

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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