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Pre-Pesach Message & Current Updates

Dear friends,
Pesach is a time that we look forward to gathering together – friends and family traditionally sit together for the Seder. With the current health concerns in mind, Beth Israel has canceled our communal Seder and put all minyanim on hiatus. This is all with the public health advice which is to stay at home as much as possible.
I would like to extend this one step further with a strong piece of advice. Take the lesson that the Shul has modeled to your home gatherings as well. This Pesach, the seder should be celebrated only with members of the immediate family.
As hard as this heartbreaking reality sounds, as Torah Jews we must prioritize our health and the health of the public before anything else.
This is the Beth Israel affirming the ‘Stay Home. Save Lives’ campaign that is endorsed by the OU, Young Israel, Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbinical Alliance of America and Agudath Israel of America. This very unique togetherness of national Jewish leadership that normally function independently creates a very clear and unanimous voice for us to hear.
We have been giving informative classes in BI’s Virtual Torah Center that will hopefully teach and guide someone towards running a meaningful Seder at home.
I would like to take this opportunity to let you know about other pre-Pesach announcements:
  1. Selling chametz: Due to the current situations and limitations of in-person meetings, we are selling our Chametz this year through a specially designed online process. The sale is working through the CRC in Chicago. Simply fill out the following form: and the rest will be taken care of for you. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.
  2. Keilim Mikvah: Many people are preparing Pesach for the first time this year. Our Mikva will be open and available for Keilim (immersion of new vessels) as well. The way to do this is by calling the office and setting up a time to drop off your things in the shul. You will get a call or text back when they have been toveled and are ready to be picked up.
  3. Ladies Mikvah: The ladies Mikva is functioning with many added precautions. If anyone has any doubts or concerns about using the Mikva during this time, I can be contacted directly by calling the office.

Lastly, I would like to invite you to join the entire Jewish People in focusing extra effort on prayer throughout tomorrow -  Wednesday, March 25th. This was an initiative that was taken on by the Israeli Chief Rabbis. At 9:30 am we will join on Zoom to recite Tehilim together. At that very same time thousands of Jews across the globe will be reciting the same chapters of Tehilim at the same time – here is the link to join:, Meeting ID: 787 350 2091.

Of course, the link will also be sent out on the BI Virtual Torah Center, along with pictures of the Tehilim that we will be reciting. To join the Virtual Torah Center, email me at with your phone number and name, and I will add you. 

Tomorrow, together with the prayer-focused day, we are encouraging anyone who is able to fast for half a day to do so. Anyone who is weak, elderly, under the weather, at all symptomatic, or is in quarantine due to suspected encounter with someone who has the virus, should not consider taking this on in any capacity. This fast would begin at 5:38 am and end at 1:40 pm.
May we be able to get back to regular communal affairs and may all those that are in need of recovery have a refua shleima.
We are here for you, do not hesitate to call at any time –
Rabbi Claman.


Rabbi & President's Message - UPDATE
Dear Beth Israel Family,

It is with a heavy heart that we must close the doors of the Familyshul as of today.
This decision came after extensive review of the rapidly evolving recommendations of our healthcare experts and government. 

The mikvah will be accessible by appointment so that we can avoid overlap and congestion as well as ensure proper cleaning.  Please call the office to make an appointment.

Unfortunately, prudent caution in this circumstance indicates that we must cancel our BI Familyshul 2020 Pesach Seder (or postpone until 2021, if you prefer!).

The production of The Girl From Treblinka will be postponed and we will update you further on arrangements regarding the presentation, tickets etc as soon as plans can be made.

Our upcoming Board meeting as well as a springtime Annual General Meeting of the Edmonton Hebrew Association are postponed until further notice as well.

This is our “new reality”.  We will be following the guidelines of our provincial healthcare and government officials in this matter.

Thank you for your consideration and cooperation. 




Dear beloved members and friends of the Beth Israel family,

Given the significance and scale of the COVID-19 situation, Beth Israel has decided to accelerate our mitigation efforts.

We have deliberated, carefully measured pros vs cons and have arrived at the difficult reality that the right thing to do is to not hold our minyanim until further notice.

We pride ourselves in knowing that our religion puts human life as priority number one. When do we ever get to express that and live that tenet of Jewish belief? It is very painful for us to close the shul, but there is no choice when it comes to saving and protecting precious lives. With the rates in Alberta going up and up – this is the right thing to do.

This means that until further notice, we are suspending the daily minyanim.

Obviously, if we were to close our beloved Shul and congregate privately and make minyanim – this effort would all be for naught. Obviously, if we were to not come together to pray and invite guests to our Shabbat tables or other religious engagements – this effort would be one of futility. We can make the future a healthier place, but we need to go into this together.

I will be davening by myself and I will be proud of it. I will know that I am doing the right thing. We respect, love and are excited over public prayer so much and we yearn for the day that we will have it back.

Those that know me well, know that I don’t make big decisions without speaking it over with my mentors. This was no exception and the perspective was unanimous and clear: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This painful decision was made under the guidance of medical professionals and the greatest Rabbinic leadership of this generation.

Even someone who is in their year of mourning or observing Yartzeit should not be going to a minyan to say Kaddish. Find someone who is in a safe community which is still running a minyan. As of now, congregation Beth Josef in Greater Phoenix is offering a Kaddish service HERE. In observance of the yarhrzeit, light a candle, recite a Kel Maleh Rachamim and say Tehilim and learn Mishnayos. Please be in touch with me personally if you need guidance in this area in any way.

The shul premises will be closed, but our hearts will be wide open to help in any way we can. Don’t be shy to reach out to the office line or my personal line if there is anything we can do for you.

We fully intend to be in regular contact with all of you, to make sure you are well, and to help in any way we can under these trying circumstances.

Also, we intend to ramp up our online offerings so that learning and prayer experiences can continue, and even increase. We are so excited to have launched BI’s “Virtual Torah Center” where we will be live broadcasting classes, Tehilim and Prayer groups. Please text me @ 780-288-1149 to be added to the WhatsApp Chat for the V.T.C so you can get updates about the classes and opportunity to spiritually rejuvenate yourself.

Sometimes physical distance brings emotional closeness. Maybe that’s why Hashem sent his precious nation into exile time after time. And it is precisely this that we hope to accomplish together as a community.

May this physical distance bring us emotionally closer…to one another and to our Creator.

I say again: there were so many times in life that has taught me that often the harder thing is the right thing. This is no different, this is the harder side of the dilemma and I promise you – it is the right one.

Please take these days to as a critical opportunity to intensify your tfillos, your prayer, towards the ultimate healer – Hashem. May our community be successful in mitigating the harm of the virus.

With warmest wishes that you all be well,
Rabbi Claman


Beth Israel COVID-19 Prorocols & Practices

Dear beloved members and friends of the Family Shul,
We are closely monitoring the dangerous spread of the COVID-19 virus. As a community, we need to walk a fine line between doing what we can and putting our trust in Hashem – Hishtadlut and Bitachon. Following extensive discussion and reference to expert recommendations from the Province of Alberta and Alberta Health Services, we present to you a list of protocols and practices which the Beth Israel family will embrace immediately in order to mitigate the spread of this virus.
Please note the recommendation from the Government of Alberta as of March 12, 2020, exempts places of worship. The decision to attend shul is an individual choice for each of you, based on the protocols stated in this document and in the website link below, while considering your personal situation.
Any and all these practices are subject to change with the guidance of the OU, RCA and, of course, Alberta Health Services. The situation is extremely fluid and there are new revelations and guidelines almost every day.

  1. Regular minyanim will continue as usual.
  2. We strongly encourage you to be extra diligent in following the sanitization recommendations provided by health professionals, which include:
  • No shaking hands or physical contact in shul.
  • All daily and Shabbat services will be held in the main sanctuary.We have plenty of room and we recommend that you leave an empty seat between you and the next person to maintain safe distance.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • When soap is not available, take advantage of the hand sanitizer dispensers we have around shul.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze, preferably with a tissue that is immediately disposed of, or, minimally, into your sleeve.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth and face with unwashed hands. This includes avoiding touching our precious Torahs and Mezuzahs in order to kiss them.
  • Manal is being extra vigilant to clean the surfaces with disinfectant and to ensure a thorough cleaning of each mikvah preparation room after every use (which is our regular practice).
  1.  If you are feeling ill in any way (for example, any or all of the following: fever, dry cough, fatigue, muscle and joint pain or shortness of breath), please refrain from attending shul at this time.
  2. We advise those who are elderly, have a compromised immune system, or cardiac or respiratory issues to refrain from attending shul at this time.
  3. Until further notice, all classes will either be cancelled or done virtually – please text 780-288-1149 and ask to be added to the “BI Torah Class Chat”, where you can receive the virtual classes and updates about them.
  4. Until further notice, the Shabbat kid’s programming and groups will be cancelled.
  5. There will no Kiddush or seudah shlishit meals in shul until further notice. On Shabbat, we will be saying Kiddush from the bimah after shul, then a light mezonos will be available in the foyer.
  6. Finally, we should all take time each day to daven for the wellbeing of our communities, the Jewish people and indeed all of humanity. We will be adding a chapter 130 of Tehillim to our daily minyanim. We encourage it to be added to your candle lighting. We have a sacred duty to open our hearts to Hashem to ask for mercy on behalf of the people here and around the world already affected by the virus, and for the containment of the virus’ further spread.

We will continue to monitor the situation and inform the congregation of any necessary changes as they arise.

Best wishes,

Rabbi Claman
President, Dr. David Vickar


Beth Israel, Edmonton's Family Shul, is a Modern Orthodox Synagogue. We are committed to Torah and mitzvot and are forward-thinking with our approach to programming. Our welcoming environment has Jews from all backgrounds choosing Beth Israel as their home away from home. Our ‘family’ is passionate about Judaism and we look forward to welcoming you!

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Tue, 7 April 2020 13 Nisan 5780