It certainly has been an historic 2 years…ones that we hope never to encounter again! However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel….and it’s not an on-coming train! The COVID situation is definitely improving. Many of the restrictions put in place to help prevent the spread of COVID are beginning to be relaxed as the number of hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline. Our “reopening committee” continues to follow both the numbers and guidance from local health officials. Because of the improving situation, we have decided to begin a phased reopening of our facilities. Beginning in June, we will be increasing the maximum capacity of indoor gatherings by 50% over previous limits. This is to try and maintain some sort of social distancing. We will also allow food to be served indoors which means that otokis may accompany funerals and memorial services again. “Full” reopening will occur in the Fall, as long as the positive trends continue. This means Sunday services, Dharma School and Japanese Language School classes will also begin in-person in the Fall.
Our annual golf tournament and banquet was held in April. The event was a success as we had over 100 golfers participate. We once again played at the San Jose Country Club with the banquet held in the gym at the church. In addition to the Hukilau food buffet, two separate raffle drawings were held (one for cash and one for prizes). We also got to watch Game #2 of the Warrior playoffs on our large screen! The event was successful as a fundraiser, but also as a test vehicle for allowing us to once again, permit food to be served indoors!
Of course, your next question is “since we are beginning to reopen, will there be a full Obon?” Yes, we have decided that we will have a “normal” Obon once again…or at least as normal as we can! The only question is how many of our usual booths will we have? This is dependent upon the number of volunteers that we can expect. Understandably, there is still some hesitancy by some of our volunteers to commit to being in large crowds. For those of you who are comfortable, I look forward to your help in resurrecting our Obon festival once again. I know our Sangha (and the surrounding Japantown community) will be anxious to see the return of this annual tradition.
We continue to closely track the COVID situation and are ready to reverse course if necessary to maintain the safety of our ministers, office staff and Sangha. Despite the crazy April weather that we have gone through, it is very exciting to see things start to open up again…and I look forward to seeing everyone face-to-face in the not too distant future!