With regard to the situation I am about to share, this tragedy has definitely brought out the worst in some.
According to Governor Murphy, wearing masks outdoors is only required if there is no social distancing.
Creating a shul environment where donning masks is required outside even while complying with social distancing is going above and beyond, but if it creates a level of comfort for some, this can work. The problem comes when you have people who think they are responsible to publicly shame anyone who they feel is not 100% compliant with their understanding of what is safe.
This reminds me of the the danger of the very “pius” who choose to take chumrahs upon themselves to bring themselves closer to God (which is very admirable for an individual who makes that decision for him/herself), but then over the generations they become “halacha” to them and they become judge/jury/executioner, and anyone not abiding to those “above and beyond” concepts is not considered to be a God-fearing Jew. This has caused much division and sinat chinam over the years among the people of the Jewish nation.
This past Rosh Hashanah in an outdoor minyan, with complete 6 feet all-around social distancing in place, my family
experienced one of the most unpleasant and negative experiences I can ever remember in my life in shul on a Yom Tov. The shul “do-gooders” who think they are protecting and being the trailblazers to “protect” the old and frail stepped over the threshold of human decency and chose to embarrass, call out and be rude for the minor infractions of a few seconds of lowering a mask but then replacing it.
This caused far more damage than the do-gooders thought they were preventing by going above and beyond the actual safety precautions, creating shalom bayit issues in my home. So, congratulations to the guilty parties—you know who you are. This is not what a place of worship was meant to be.
Due to this experience, I will not be attending Yom Kippur at this shul this year—for the first time in my adult life.
I call on the community as a whole to rethink these attitudes and the way they are handled.
I hope and pray that we all are granted good health and a safer world for 5781.Name withheld upon request