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Baruch Ha’ba; Welcome!

Congregation Children of Israel (CCI) is a Reform congregation in Athens, Georgia. CCI brings the Athens Jewish Community together to live joyously rich Jewish lives. We strive to bridge tradition and modernity, as worship links our precious history with fresh approaches to spirituality. We are dedicated to each other, and to learning from the gifts that each of our families brings to our congregation.

Important CCI COVID-19 Policy Update

We are writing to inform you of important policy and procedure changes regarding our COVID-19 protocols, especially as they relate to the upcoming High Holidays.

In the last month, due to the Delta variant, COVID infections have risen dramatically, and the CDC has changed much of its guidance. Vaccinated individuals can spread the Delta variant to others, including children. Our policies must take these new realities into consideration.

Below are the guidelines that were discussed and voted on by our Board at Tuesday night’s meeting, in close consultation with the Re-Opening Committee. The first one refers to all temple events until further notice. The remainder refer to High Holidays services in particular.

Starting now, every person 2 years and above who enters the CCI building must be masked.

High Holiday Policies

  • Every person attending High Holiday services who is 12 years of age or older must provide proof of COVID vaccination, such as the standard vaccination card. Those who are unable to be vaccinated due to a medical condition must provide a written exemption from a physician in order to attend in person.
  • Everyone in the sanctuary will be masked at all times, including our choir. The only exceptions are congregants who come up to the bima for honors that involve vocalizing. Participatory honors on the bima will be reduced this year. Rabbi Linder and Cantorial Soloist Jessica Tillem will be unmasked when leading a prayer or song, and masked at other times.
  • All services will continue to be streamed for those who do not attend in person.

We suggest that all congregants email Cyndee a picture of the vaccination card for themselves and anyone in your family who might attend High Holiday services. Cyndee will compile a list of those who have provided this evidence. We strongly recommend that you send proof of your and your family’s vaccination to Cyndee in advance, even if you are not certain that you will attend High Holiday services. You can do so starting immediately; Cyndee is waiting for these pictures. Cyndee’s email is AthensTemple@gmail.com.

Congregational leaders will check the list and vaccination cards at a welcome table prior to services. There will be an “express lane” for those who previously sent pictures of their cards to Cyndee. Others will show their vaccination card at the welcome table. These Board members and volunteers will gently inform those without proof of vaccination (or a written medical exemption) that they are invited to stream the service from home.

Of course this is our first time doing this (and God willing, last), so we recommend that you both send the pictures to Cyndee in advance, and bring the cards to services, just in case there’s a problem with one of the systems.

In the weeks to come, Rabbi Linder will continue to remind congregants about these policies. A phone tree message will be sent shortly as an added reminder. These guidelines will also be posted prominently on our website’s front page.

If you know of non-members who may want to attend services in person, please advise them to bring their proof of vaccination or medical exemption with them. Cyndee will share the necessary information with guests who call the synagogue for information.

We were hopeful that this year’s High Holiday services would be “back to normal,” and these new developments are unfortunate. Nonetheless, gam zeh ya’avor, this too shall pass. Regardless of whether we are masked in the sanctuary or at home, we will worship together as our holy community, and we will celebrate our High Holidays with meaningfulness, ruach, and hope.


Joel B. Katz – CCI President
Adam Goodie – Chair of Re-Opening Committee
Rabbi Linder

Temple Renovation

Our congregation recently completed a major Capital Campaign to renovate our Sanctuary & Social Hall. We are proud of our new spaces that more accurately reflect the warmth, openness, spirituality and ruach (spirit) of Congregation Children of Israel!


From the Union For Reform Judaism / Reform Movement

Taking a Breath for Life: URJ’s Actions to Build Resilience

Taking a Breath for Life: URJ’s Actions to Build Resilience jemerman January 19, 2022

On Tu Bishvat we celebrated trees and a season of new growth. I've been doing lots of thinking about trees, as I frequently do, and the role they play in providing oxygen for the planet. At the Union of Reform Judaism, we provide oxygen to our communities by creating compassionate spaces for our participants to grow and thrive. We can respond to current and future challenges by fostering resilience that reflect our Jewish values.

For Colleyville, Texas

For Colleyville, Texas jemerman January 18, 2022

This is a prayer of healing for the hostages freed from Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, Texas, as well as the congregation and the community.

The Worst Ninety Minutes in Jewish History

The Worst Ninety Minutes in Jewish History jemerman January 14, 2022

Eighty years ago on January 20, 1942, the infamous Wannsee Conference took place in a large lakeside three-story mansion in suburban Berlin. Fifteen Nazi German leaders attended the meeting that coordinated plans to "orderly execute" ---murder--- millions of Jews during World War II.

“Treat the Earth well. It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children”

“Treat the Earth well. It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children” jemerman January 11, 2022

The upcoming holiday of Tu BiShvat -- the birthday of the trees - brings back a memory of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In the museum is an enormous cross-section of a giant sequoia tree. Standing before it is a sublime experience. The cross-section overwhelms you with its sheer size, inspiring questions about the size of the tree it was cut from.