Sign In Forgot Password

 

Vaccination Policy & OKC VaxPass

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Ohr Kodesh leadership and clergy continue to be committed to the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of our community during these unprecedented times.

We are dedicated to both reducing risk for everyone and creating a welcoming atmosphere for people to come back together to pray, study, and connect in community. We believe that our vaccine policy will achieve this objective. We are grateful for your patience, open to your feedback, and appreciate your partnership as we continue to move toward coming back together.


Vaccine Mandate 

Requires all eligible individuals who enter Ohr Kodesh Congregation to be fully vaccinated (and boosted) for COVID-19 unless they have a documented medical exemption. “Vaccination” in this policy refers to vaccination against COVID-19.

To view the OKC Vaccine Requirement policy, click HERE.


Background: In the summer of 2021, a vaccine mandate was first proposed by the OKC Health Committee. Though not implemented at the time, in December of 2021, the Executive Committee proposed to the Board that Ohr Kodesh adopt the vaccine mandate, which was subsequently approved on January 5, 2022. At the same time, an implementation team was formed. Over the following weeks, the implementation team shared updates with the board and congregation, solicited feedback, fielded questions, and revised our plan for moving forward. We value the constructive feedback that has been shared from our community members and welcome the continuation of these open lines of communication.


Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the rationale for requiring the COVID-19 vaccine?

Throughout the nearly two years of the pandemic, the Ohr Kodesh Board, Executive Committee and Health Committee have strived to make decisions that are both informed by the science available at the time and in the best interest of our religious community. Our Jewish tradition regards the practice of medicine as a mitzvah (positive commandment). The preservation of human life (pikuach nefesh) takes precedence over all other Jewish ethical obligations.

After living a year with vaccines, we have learned that vaccines are saving lives and preventing serious illness from COVID-19 infection. The protection of people depends not only on their own immunization, but on the immunization of others in the community.  As part of our sacred community (kehillah kedosha), it is our collective responsibility to ensure each other’s wellness and safety.

Why not rely on self-certification?  

After consulting the OKC Health Committee, which recommended requiring proof of vaccination, the Board decided to move forward with that plan. We made this choice in order to (1) provide confidence of compliance and (2) because we believe it will not impose a substantial burden. While we have a high level of trust in our Congregations, some members have expressed that it is a comfort to know that documentation is required.

We also do not know everyone who comes into our space. We are fortunate to host visitors from beyond our community. We must require that they present proof of vaccination, as well.  We believe there is value in treating all who enter, whether member or guest, in the same manner. 

When will the vaccine mandate become effective? 

Implementation began February 1, 2022, with a two-week grace period for full compliance. It will take full effect February 15, 2022.

How will the vaccine mandate be communicated to our congregation?

We are using all of our communication vehicles (ie. website, email, signage) to make sure that our congregational community is aware of the requirement to have proof of vaccination in order to enter the building.

Who will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19?

All individuals who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine who enter the Ohr Kodesh building or attend an Ohr Kodesh sponsored event. This includes:

  • Staff - all eligible staff are already fully vaccinated per existing OKC policy;
  • Congregants attending services or other Ohr Kodesh events;
  • Guests/Visitors to the building (including for life cycle events);
  • Religious school (ABRS) students, Teen Beit Midrash students, Tzohar students, ECC students if eligible, and faculty;
  • Students who attend youth programming (when eligible);
  • Vendors, delivery persons, workers, and others whose work requires them to enter the building.

What does it mean to be ‘fully-vaccinated’ at Ohr Kodesh?

In general, fully vaccinated means the following:

1.    A person has obtained both doses of COVID vaccines in a 2-dose series (e.g., Pfizer or Moderna vaccines) or 1 dose of a single-dose vaccine, (e.g., Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine); and
2.    If eligible for a COVID-19 booster, has received a booster.

When do the age-related vaccination requirements kick in?

A vaccination requirement applies 60 days after the individual reaches the age at which the individual first becomes eligible for vaccination or a booster.

What will be accepted as proof of vaccination?

Ohr Kodesh’s OKC VaxPass (details below), CDC Vaccination Card (or copy), Apps (digital image) - except on Shabbat and Yom Tov (holidays), or other official immunization records.

What will be accepted as proof of medical exemption?

A letter from a medical professional citing the reason why a person should not be vaccinated. The letter must be presented to the OKC office 48 hours in advance of the exempt person’s entry. If an exemption is granted, a person will receive an OKC VaxPass and his/her name will be on the COVID OKC VaxPass List. A medical exemption letter may not be presented at the door when seeking entry to the building

What will be accepted as proof of an age (under 5) exemption?

Date of Birth in OKC records or parental certification.

Does Ohr Kodesh intend to restrict entry of children who are too young for vaccination?

No. We cherish the next generation of Ohr Kodesh. We will do whatever we can to partner with our families to help our children feel welcome at Ohr Kodesh. Please note that our vaccination policy explicitly does not apply to children who are not eligible for vaccination.

If someone is not vaccinated and provides a documented exemption, will they be required to provide a negative COVID test in order to enter the building?

A person who has provided a Medical Exemption will not be required to provide a negative COVID test in order to enter the building.

Can an unvaccinated person age 5 and over who does not have an exemption enter the building with a negative COVID test?

No. An unvaccinated person age 5 and over who does not have a Medical Exemption letter may not enter the building by presenting a negative COVID test.

How will individuals provide proof of vaccination or exemption when seeking access to the building?

Generally:  By presentation of (1) OKC VaxPass OR (2) proof of vaccination [CDC card or copy or digital image/Apps - except on Shabbat or Yom Tov (holidays)], or other official immunization records.

How will proof of vaccination or medical exemption be presented and checked? 

Daytime (8am-5pm):  Visitors will show Proof of Vaccination or their OKC VaxPass to the security guard upon entering the building. Medical exemption letters need to be presented 48 hours in advance of needing access to the building in order to receive an OKC VaxPass. This requirement will not apply to students attending the ECC, MoEd, ABRS, Tzohar or Teen Beit Midrash (all of whom will have previously demonstrated their proper vaccination status and will be known to the staff).

Shabbat Indoor Worship:  Security guards and/or congregational volunteers will check those entering the building for Proof of Vaccination or OKC VaxPass cards.  

B’nei Mitzvah families will be asked to sign a document acknowledging the OKC Vaccine Mandate with affirmation that their guests will not be able to enter the building without proof of vaccination or exemption. Guests with medical exemptions will be required to submit proof of exemption to the OKC office 48 hours in advance of services.

Shabbat Outdoor Worship:  Congregational volunteers will check those entering the patio for Proof of Vaccination or OKC VaxPass cards.

Evening Meetings and Other Events (when security guard is not present):  It will be the responsibility of the meeting leader/chair(s) to check for Proof of Vaccination or OKC-Accepted Exemption (OKC VaxPass), or to submit a Medical Exemption Letter to Ohr Kodesh 48 hours before needing access to the building. 

How does one obtain an OKC VaxPass Card?

There are three ways to obtain an OKC VaxPass:

1.    On-Line uploading of evidence of vaccination or medical exemption on the OKC website. By going to the OKC website and by clicking HERE one may complete a form and upload proof of vaccination or medical exemption. OKC VaxPasses will be mailed to those registering on-line, or the individual can arrange to pick up the OKC VaxPass in person at the  Ohr Kodesh office. Uploaded documents will be deleted within 48 hours of being reviewed.

2.    In-Person presentation of proof of vaccination or medical exemption at OKC. Those presenting proof of vaccination or age exemption during weekday business hours of 8am to 5pm will receive an OKC VaxPass at that time. Those presenting proof of medical exemption will receive an OKC VaxPass once the exemption is approved. Evidence of vaccination will not be maintained at OKC. Evidence of exemption (medical letter) will be maintained until it is reviewed and then will be destroyed.

3.    By Mail. One may mail proof of vaccination or medical exemption to the OKC office along with the information that is requested on the form on the OKC website HERE. OKC VaxPasses will be mailed to those registering by mail. Mailed-in documents will be destroyed within 48 hours of being reviewed.

What if I have an OKC VaxPass, but forget my card? Will there be a list available at the door?

A back up list will be available, compiled based on the issuance of OKC VaxPasses and proof of vaccination or exemption submitted to the ECC, MoEd, ABRS, Teen Beit Midrash and Tzohar.  It will be updated at least every 48 hours and will be available to those checking vaccination status.

Will individuals without proof of vaccination or exemption be able to enter the facility regardless of whether they are members or guests even for worship services?

No. If someone does not provide proof of vaccination or exemption and they are not on the list of those who have submitted their information, they will not be allowed into the building.

Will I (and my family) still need to show proof of vaccination each time we enter the building?

Yes. It would be very cumbersome for the security guards and staff members to routinely leaf through lists at the door. Having your proof of vaccination (vaccination cards or copies, digital image/Apps [except on Shabbat and Yom Tov (holidays)] or OKC VaxPass) available to show the security guard or staff member will make the process of entering much quicker.  

Will an eligible student who is unvaccinated be able to attend Religious School in person?

No. An eligible student who is unvaccinated and does not have a medical exemption will not be able to attend Religious School in person.

Will students of ABRS, Tzohar and Teen Beit Midrash need to show proof of vaccination each time they enter the building?

Once we have their vaccination status confirmed, students will not need to show proof each time they enter the building for school. A short list for each of these groups will be available to the security guards or staff members in order to check students in. Students should be expected to have proof of vaccination when they enter the building during non-school times (Shabbat, for example). 

Will children enrolled in the ECC and MoEd need to show proof of vaccination each time they enter the building?

Eligible ECC children and MoEd students have already shown proof of vaccination during their program registration process. Parents or caregivers who enter the building for pick-up/drop off will need to show proof of vaccination for themselves. 

Is there any way to expedite the entry of certain constituencies who are in the building frequently; e.g. kids, parents, and staff associated with the ECC?

We want, more than anything, for our families to feel at home at Ohr Kodesh just as they always have. As we begin the rollout process, we are asking all eligible kids, parents, and staff associated with the ECC and ABRS to obtain an OKC VaxPass. Ongoing, we will be in constant communication with the ECC and ABRS leadership and families to find the right balance between keeping everyone safe and maintaining a welcoming atmosphere. We appreciate your support and feedback as we accommodate new concerns as they come up. We will also have separate, short lists of the ECC and ABRS individuals who have been vaccinated; this will facilitate admitting these individuals if they forget their documentation. This will be communicated through ECC, ABRS, and OKC channels.

How do we balance the requirements of the security guard with the new need to check vaccination cards?

Everyone at OKC plays a role in the safety, security, and well-being of our community. We will be monitoring the first few weeks of implementation very closely and are already in touch with the company that provides security. We believe that this policy will complement and improve our security posture because in partnership with the OKC security guard, staff, and volunteers, we will be able to interact with, welcome, and maintain the security with everyone who wants to enter Ohr Kodesh. For additional details, please contact our Executive Director, Jerry Kiewe, through our vaccine email:  vaccines@ohrkodesh.org.

Do we need to have our original vaccination cards with us? 

No. A copy of your original Proof of Vaccination is fine. You can also use an image on your phone, but not on Shabbat or Yom Tov (holidays).

If we are a ‘vaccinated-only’ organization will our mask policy change?

Presently, the OKC Mask Policy provides that any person (age 2+) must wear a mask while inside regardless of vaccination status. We encourage all to wear a high-filtration mask such as the N95, KN95 or KF94 masks.

I am immunocompromised. What steps can I take to protect myself?

We encourage you to consult your health care provider to discuss your options. We will do our best to work with you and your individual needs to help you feel safe at OKC.

My situation does not fall under any of the points addressed. What do I do?

Please contact our Executive Director, Jerry Kiewe at vaccines@ohrkodesh.org, for assistance. He will be happy to help you navigate the situation.

Are these requirements subject to change?

Yes. The requirements may change if licensure or authorization is given to new vaccines or boosters, or an existing licensure or authorization is expanded to cover additional individuals, or for other reasons, taking into consideration current CDC guidance and recommendations, and in consultation with the OKC Health Committee.

When will this requirement end and does this vaccination mandate mean that we can potentially take steps to get back to normal?

The OKC Board and OKC Health Committee are constantly monitoring the situation and are prepared to make adjustments in response to changes in the situation. Our sincere hope is that this policy will get us one step closer to coming back together as we were, pre-pandemic.

I still have questions, where do I go for additional information? 

To learn more about Ohr Kodesh Safety Procedures During COVID-19, click HERE.

Wed, May 25 2022 24 Iyyar 5782