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May 24, 2020

Dear YI Family,


In light of Governor Murphy’s easing of restrictions and in the interest of providing an opportunity for as many interested in Tefilah b’Tzibur as possible, we will be raising the maximum number of participants per minyan from 10 to 20. We will do so in consonance with the guidance already received from lead infectious disease experts. Despite the legal allowance to hold a minyan of exactly ten indoors, we will refrain from doing so until it is deemed medically advisable.


This increase in participants necessitates somewhat different logistics from those we have employed until now to ensure maintained safety at our minyanim, as follows:


  • We will continue to use the parking lot at 819 but ask that cars be parked elsewhere, either at 817 or across the street on Beekman. Bear in mind that personal items (chair, tallis/tefillin, siddur) will need to carried from your car to the lot at 819. All those close enough to walk to shul from home are encouraged to do so.


  • When walking to 819 from your parking spot or from home, please be mindful of maintaining appropriate distance from others who are also walking to the minyan. Please bear in mind that even when wearing a mask, social distancing is still an important precaution.


  • The lot at 819 will be prepped with X’s on the ground, marking the spot for each participant, in two rows of ten. As you enter the lot, please fill in each spot in order, beginning with the front row and moving from left to right, then the back row from left to right. We have found that the shliach tzibbur is rather audible from wherever he stands; please follow these guidelines even if you will be serving as the shliach tzibbur. A separate area will be set up for the Baal Korei on days when the Torah is read.


  • Please be mindful of remaining at your spot throughout tefilah and mainaining proper social distance when entering and exiting the lot.


  • Masks covering both mouth and nose must be in place from the time you enter the lot until you exit.


  • In the continued interest of maintaining an ideal, focused Makom Tefilah, please do not use your phone for any purpose from the beginning of davening until its completion.


  • Registration for minyan is still necessary. If you agree to following the above safety protocols and wish to participate in minyanim, please fill out a form at the link below if you have not already done so. I will send out a link later today to all new registrants to be able to sign up for minyanim from tonight through Thursday morning.


Shavuos Planning

  • We are hoping to hold two different Shacharis minyanim each day of Shavuos, as well as a separate Yizkor service after davening on the second day of Yom Tov. Please be on the lookout for separate signup sheet for these services, which will be emailed to anyone who filled out a form accepting the safety protocols to be put in place at minyan. The ability to hold various minyanim will obviously be subject to interest; please indicate which minyan you have interest in as soon as possible once the signup sheet is sent. We plan to be able to accommodate women as well as men for Shacharis and certainly for the Yizkor service following davening on the second day. Men and women who have an interest in attending any of the above are encouraged to fill out a form. 



Wishing everyone best health,

Rabbi Bienenfeld


May 19, 2020


Dear YI Family,


With Hashem’s help, we look forward to holding outdoor minyanim beginning tomorrow morning, Wednesday, May 20. A number of notes before we launch:


  • In the interest of maintaining appropriate safety guidelines, scaling will be important. We will begin by holding one minyan for Shacharis and one for Mincha/Maariv from tomorrow through this coming Sunday. If it is deemed feasible, we will expand the number of minyanim offered at that time. In doing so, we will be in need of a volunteer at each minyan who will be responsible for ensuring that safety protocols are being adhered to. Please contact me privately if you are willing to fill this role at future minyanim.


  • Minyan under the conditions devised is a low risk activity. It should not be interpreted as license to drop our standards for safety and hygiene elsewhere. The fight against this pandemic demands continued vigilance.


  • Below you will find a series of safety protocols that must be adhered to when attending minyan. It is a reiteration of the protocols issued by the Vaad HaRabbanim, along with notes specific to the setup of the minyan at our shul. Anyone who wishes to participate in minyanim must read carefully through all these protocols and fill out the form at the link below indicating agreement to comply with them. Only those email addresses collected from completed forms will be sent a link to the minyan sign up sheet.


  • In this initial phase, the number of slots available for minyan will be quite limited, particularly as slots have been pre-reserved for Aveilim. Please approach this reality in the spirit that davening with a minyan even just once is better than not at all, and that this is an important step for our kehilah as a whole, even if not every individual can be immediately served. With this in mind, please sign up for only one minyan during the initial phase of minyanim between tomorrow and Sunday. 

Safety Protocols: Please read thoroughly


Rendering of parking lot at 819 Cooper Landing Road

parking lot davening rendering.png

The Minyan Space


  • We will be using the parking lot at 819 for minyan. Please consult the map above as you read the instructions for attending minyan.

  • The parking lot is divided into two rows of five. Each row allows for the staggering of cars so that ample space is allowed between each car and each participant. 

  • As you pull into the lot, please fill in each space in order (spot 1 first, then spot 2, etc.). Be mindful of leaving an empty space between your car and the one next to you. 

  • The one exception to the rule above is parking spot 8. Because of its central location, this spot will be reserved for the shliach tzibur. The shliach tzibur will be determined in advance of minyan and should park at that spot irrespective of when he arrives relative to the other participants. 

  • Those who park in the back row (side closest to the building), should be mindful of the dumpster covering a portion of that side of the lot. Pull your car as close to the dumpster as possible. 

  • Each participant will stand in front of his car. These locations are referred to by the numbers at the top of each blue (occupied) parking space on the map. Please remain situated on the number (marked in chalk on the surface of the parking lot) in front of each car throughout davening. Please avoid walking around or pacing from the moment you exit your car until minyan is over. This will ensure that social distancing guidelines are maintained. 

  • As no shul chairs will be used, it is recommended that you bring a chair with you to shul should you wish to sit at any point. Personal shtenders may likewise be brought.


General Safety


  • Participants must wear masks throughout davening, from the moment they exit their car until they return to them to leave the premises. Masks must cover both the mouth and nose.

  • No socializing before or after (or during!) minyan. After minyan, everyone must return directly to their cars and leave. While it is certainly feasible to socialize in a safe manner, in the interest of maintaining clear guidelines for tefilah, it is critical that no one linger following minyan.

  • There will be no access to the interior of the building before, after, or during minyan. 

  • Shul sefarim will not be used. Each participant must have his own siddur, and Chumash when appropriate.

  • Individuals with symptoms of any illness other than allergies may not attend.

  • Individuals considered high-risk due to their medical history or age should consult with their physician as to whether it is prudent for them to attend services.


Guidelines for Krias HaTorah


  • The Sefer Torah will be positioned on a table at the Baal Korei’s spot from the outset of Tefilah. The table will be covered with a disposable tablecloth for hygienic purposes.

  • The Baal Korei will serve as Gabbai during leining, and will receive all the aliyos himself. 

  • The Baal Korei will perform Hagbah, then place the Sefer Torah back on the table and perform Gelilah. The Sefer Torah will then be rewrapped in a talis.

  • The Baal Korei will wear gloves throughout Krias HaTorah.


Shabbos Guidelines


  • Due to the impractical nature of each participant providing his own chair for Shabbos minyanim, we will use shul chairs. We will use the smooth vinyl chairs that can be properly wiped and every chair will be sanitized after each use. 


Further Guidelines


  • In the event of rain, minyanim will need to be canceled. Notice will be given as far in advance of each minyan as is practicable.

  • It is imperative that all participants be punctual. As we will have exactly ten men at each minyan, there is no margin for error on anyone arriving late.


No-Phone Policy


  • At a time when davening with a minyan is a privilege so severely limited, we must be more mindful than ever of the responsibility assumed in occupying a slot at minyan. It is incumbent upon each individual to ensure the sanctity of the prayer space and to do all he can to remain focused throughout tefilah and be respectful of the interest of others in creating an ideal atmosphere for connecting with Hashem. As such, I would like to introduce a no-phone policy at minyan. Let’s ensure that when we gather to daven together, we create an environment that is distraction-free and dedicated wholly to Hashem. I hope this is a measure we will all willingly adopt in the interest of infusing our Makom Tefilah with increased kedusha.


Sign Up


  • If you have thoroughly read the protocols above and can submit to following them when attending minyan, please complete the form at the link below. An email will be sent later this evening to all those who have submitted a form that will allow them to sign up for minyan attendance.


Letter from the Vaad HaRabbanim of Cherry Hill 

& Additional Notes from Rabbi Bienenfeld

May 18, 2020

Dear YI Family,


In collaboration with local infectious disease experts and the Cherry Hill Police Department, the Vaad HaRabbanim of Cherry Hill has issued guidelines for outdoor minyanim to be held at our local institutions. The full text of the statement can be viewed at the link below.


Below the link are further guidelines specific to our minyanim being held at our shul, as well as instructions for signing up for the minyanim held. A number of preliminary points:


  • Please do not view the reinstatement of minyanim in any form as an indication that we need no longer be vigilant in our fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Minyan has been deemed a low-risk activity only because of the strict safety protocols that will be administered. All previously established safety practices, such as social distancing, wearing a mask in public, frequent hand washing, and the like, are still of critical importance.


  • When minyan does resume at YI, we will initially be holding only one Shacharis and one Mincha/Maariv minyan per day. Aveilim will be granted slots at every minyan, which will make available slots extremely limited, as a maximum of ten participants is all that is presently allowed under NJ law. Assuming all safety protocols can be properly upheld, we hope to expand the number of daily minyanim to better accommodate all those who wish to attend minyan.


  • Women and children have been and always will be critical members of our YI Family. That davening slots can only be made available at this time to men over Bar Mitzvah age is due to the severe limitations presently imposed upon our minyanim by law and safety considerations.


  • Many will naturally be frustrated by the inability to participate at every minyan. Let us remember that participating even in only one minyan over the course of the week is better than none at all. As mentioned, we will expand the number of minyanim being offered as soon as it becomes feasible and responsible to do so.


  • It is imperative that the protocols set out by the Vaad HaRabbanim not be taken as license to hold private minyanim under those guidelines. Practically, such rigorous guidelines are far more likely to be upheld at a minyan operated by an official communal institution as opposed to a private yard that provides an inherent atmosphere of comfort and relaxation. Moreover, our Vaad HaRabbanim has worked closely with the CHPD to ensure transparency in our undertaking this process; backyard minyanim could jeopardize the relationship between the frum community and local law enforcement, as well as the broader Cherry Hill community at large.



Wishing everyone health, bracha, and hatzlacha,

Rabbi Bienenfeld

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