Temple members could pick up Shabbat dinners before the weekly virtual service.
Though Temple Beth Israel remains closed to the public, its members still share Shabbat meals just like they would before Friday service when there isn't a pandemic going on.
At 3 p.m. the past two Fridays, several temple members gather along with Brooklyn's Best caterers in the Temple Beth Israel parking lot to share dinners with friends. Vice president Marion Levine, who organizes special programs, put the dinner service together and said the response has been strong.
Those who bought meals, which include challah bread for the traditional blessing, drive into the parking lot where the volunteers are waiting to identify the driver and deposit their meals into their cars. Masks are worn by all, making it sometimes difficult to figure out who's approaching, but the volunteers check off the names and deliver the meals quickly, often with a chorus of the name and number of meals echoing from the car to the table where Levine keeps track of who's come and gone.
The meals are for Friday evening, when the temple holds a virtual cocktail hour on Zoom where members get to chat before Shabbat dinner and services begin, also on Zoom. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the temple hosted dinners where members got to catch up and dine with their friends in person, so the cocktail hour and Zoom sessions are a way to try to make up for that until the temple reopens, for which there is no timeline. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Jewish High Holidays, are in mid-September and will also be virtual. And of course, members will have the opportunity to share a meal from their separate celebration spaces then, too.