Temple Israel invites congregation back for in-person services for first time in over a year

Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 10:42 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Transitioning from an empty congregation to a full one, Temple Israel was finally ready to open its doors to its members after almost 16 months Friday as it invited its congregation back for in-person services.

All vaccinated members were able to worship face-to-face once again.

“Well the room has been empty, but I feel the space has been filled,” said Temple Israel Rabbi Michael Shields.

Since March of 2020, Temple Israel has held their services online, but thanks to rising vaccination rates, Rabbie Shield said that Friday night was the right time to pray together in person once again.

“So, we’ve asked for people who are fully vaccinated, they are invited to meet us in person. Those who are not fully vaccinated are invited to continue joining us online,” explained Rabbi Shields.

Friday was a day many in the congregation said they were so thankful to finally see.

“I’m real excited to get to see everybody and to talk to everybody and even hug a few,” said member Lala Clar.

“For me it’s reconnecting, reconnecting with the religion the way I want to reconnect, and I want to understand and listen and learn and refresh on some of the stories that are so important,” explained member Bob Cohen.

Temple Israel is providing an environment that online services simply aren’t able to, and giving the congregation something else to celebrate this Shabbos.

Rabbi Shields said Friday’s service is just the first step and he can’t wait to eventually be able to welcome all members back home. Temple Israel will continue to hold services in-person and online until all their members can walk back into the synagogue.

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