Gathering for Our Democracy

A statement by Rabbi Amy Schwartzman

January 6, 2021

Erev tov, Good evening.

Thank you for joining us on this devastating night following the violence in our Nation’s Capital. The shocking assault each one of us witnessed, was an attack not only on our Capital building, but on our democracy and our country – the America we love, the America we support, the America we believe in, the America that welcomed to its magnificent shores many of our families, who fled other countries filled with violence and corruption.

Today was a dark day for all of us. Tears filled my eyes as I watched rioters smash the windows of the Senate, scale the walls of the House, rage against our lawmakers as they huddled, trapped in the fear, in one of our most sacred places. I am devastated, but sadly not surprised, to see my fellow citizens desecrate the symbol of our republic and challenge the just and fair system created by our founders and upheld through every generation with integrity. The fact that today’s events were encouraged by the President of the United States who has refused to accept his electoral loss is equally terrifying and heartbreaking. We must understand that our democracy is only as strong as the people willing to abide by its laws and norms.

Temple Rodef Shalom is a diverse community. We are religiously diverse with our members coming from many Movements of Judaism and many other religious traditions as well. We are diverse in our political views – we are republicans, we are democrats and independents. We have many different feelings about Israel, about Hebrew, about Passover, about the music that enriches so much of what we do.

But we are united by more than what divides us. We all want to see our tradition survive and thrive. We all embrace the role of our Judaism in making the world a better place. And, we all believe that America is a place where all of this can happen. It is not by accident that in America Judaism has blossomed, growing in numbers and in depth. America’s openness to all, all individuals, and all of their views, has been a blessing for our people.

Today we saw that blessing and those values attacked. Our nation has been wounded; but the injury will not prove fatal. We, her citizens, will come together to listen, to care, to heal. And as Jews, we can look to our tradition to support us, to ground us and to refocus our efforts on the justice, fairness, and peace that have always been at its core.

Tonight, we gather for prayer and song. Tonight, let us find comfort and solace in each other’s company.

And tomorrow, let us rise, renewed and reinvigorated, to begin the work of binding our nation’s wounds. Tomorrow, let us put our shoulders to the restoration of trust, the pursuit of justice and equity, and the rebuilding of “the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”

2021 Service Schedule

New Year, New Service Schedule!

Join our clergy for a new monthly service schedule that we hope will meet your diverse needs for prayerful experiences at Temple Rodef Shalom. Please see below for an outline of what we will be offering each Friday evening starting in January. Until otherwise noted, all of these options will be presented virtually on our streaming site, We hope to “see” you there!

Your Clergy Team

First Friday: 6:30 PM
In January, we’ll offer just our family-friendly congregational service at 6:30 PM. Then, beginning in February, on the first Friday of each month, we will offer TWO options for services, both at 6:30 PM:

  • The first is our family service led by our clergy and Family Band. This service will be geared towards families with children in elementary school and will have a story and interactive music.
  • As an alternative, be sure to check out our Zoom Bo’i Shabbat service led by Rabbi Jeff Saxe or Cantor Rachel Rhodes. This service will be on Zoom only.

Second Friday: 5:00 PM
Interactive Zoom Healing Service led by a member of our clergy and Anita Thornton on Zoom only. 

Second Friday: 6:30 PM
On the second Friday of the month, we will host a variety of guest speakers, both congregants and non, to give divrei Torah. Join us to hear words of wisdom from the diverse membership of our wider community!

Third Friday: 6:30 PM
On the third Friday of the month, the cantors will present a special musical experience. This could be a choral virtual video, new instrumentation for our service, or both cantors leading together. Tune in to be inspired and swept away by the beautiful music!

Fourth Friday: 6:30 PM
The fourth Friday of the month will feature a new Zoom “pre-neg.” From 6 to 6:30 PM, you will have a chance to sign into an intimate Zoom room where you can chat with your friends and engage with the clergy. We hope that by beginning your Shabbat experience with greeting each other, we will all feel more connected. Then, if you choose, you can watch the Friday service on your own or online with other attendees of the oneg.

Winter Mitzvah Day 2020




Due to COVID-19, Winter Mitzvah Day will be a scaled-down and socially distanced event, but we can still help our neighbors in need! You can help out in the following ways:

  • Winter Coat Drive: Donate new or gently used coats, gloves/mittens, hats, or scarves for low-income families. Look for the large donation box in front of the ECC/Religious School entrance after December 9. 
  • Food Drive: Donate emergency food supplies to low-income families in our local area. Your donations will go to SHARE and the Falls Church Community Services Council to help local families who are hungry. A list of needed items is included in each week’s Temple e-letter. Please drop off your donations in the Mitzvah Box outside the ECC/Religious School entrance. The Mitzvah Box inside the sanctuary lobby is not being used at this time.
  • Kenmore Food Drive: Kenmore Middle School is collecting funds to support Arlington families with the food and supplies they need. Donate here
  • “McLean Cares:” TRS has joined this new interfaith initiative led by Immanuel Presbyterian Church that provides free meals once per month to those in need (e.g., low-income families at the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center and seniors in subsidized housing). The $10 meals (plus a $1.50 tip) are prepared by McLean restaurants, thereby making this a “win-win” initiative by providing them with much-needed revenue. Buy a meal(s) here 
  • AFAC: The Arlington Food Assistance Center provides food weekly to those in need: Find food drop-off sites and/or donate here

New Hope Housing represents a number of shelters big and small (Bailey’s Shelter, Max’s Place, Susan’s Place, Gartland House, Mondloch House, Milestones, and RISE) that TRS has helped each year; but, now we will help by way of gift cards for food and clothing.

  • Christmas Food Baskets:  New Hope Housing provides Christmas food baskets for low-income residents to ensure that they have a special and filling meal for the holidays.  Donate $25 grocery gift card(s) (Safeway or Shopper’s Food Warehouse only) so that recipients can also purchase a protein of their choice.  Grocery gift cards or checks can be mailed to: NHH Gift Card Drive, ATTN: Sami Smyth, 8407-E Richmond Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22309. If sending a check, put “Christmas Food Baskets” on the check memo line.
  • Clothing: Donate thermal underwear, undershirts, and other basic clothing to Bailey’s Crossroad and other local shelters. Their Amazon wish list is here. At checkout, make sure to click on New Hope Housing as the recipient.
  • Gift Cards:  To keep everyone as healthy as possible, New Hope Housing clients will accept gift cards to purchase their own gifts for the holidays. Checks or $25 Walmart or Target gift cards can be mailed to: NHH Gift Card Drive, ATTN: Sami Smyth, 8407-E Richmond Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22309. If sending a check, put “Gift Cards” on the check memo line. 

Election 2020 FAQ


Click here to view information for Virginia voters. 
Click here to view information for DC voters. 
Click here to view information for Maryland voters. 

Below is information for Virginia voters:

What are my voting options?
There are three ways to vote:

    • Absentee-by-mail voting in which an absentee ballot is requested, completed, and returned by noon on November 6.
    • Absentee in-person (or early) voting September 18 to October 31 at your local registrar’s office (check your city or county for voting hours).
    • In-person at your polling place on November 3, between 6am and 7pm.

Because of the pandemic, absentee-by-mail voting is recommended. To avoid delays in mail delivery, we recommend returning your completed ballot as soon as possible or using a secure drop box at your local registrar’s office.

Who can register to vote?
A person is eligible to register to vote if they are a U.S. citizen, a resident of Virginia, 18 years old or older, not registered in another state. Any person who is 17 years old and will be eighteen years of age by November 3 is permitted to register in advance. The deadline to register to vote is October 13.

How do I check my voter registration status?
You can check your voter registration status by going to: or calling 804-864-8901. If you have moved, you will need to update your registration with your current address.

Who can vote absentee?
Any registered voter can vote absentee for any reason. As of July 1, a new state law removed the requirement to cite an approved reason.

How do I get an absentee ballot?

      1. Apply online here.
      2. Download and complete a paper absentee application form, sign, and return to your local registrar’s office by mail, fax, or emailing a scanned attachment.
      3. Pick up a request form at your local registrar’s office.

What is the deadline for requesting a ballot?
The request for absentee ballot must be received by October 23, 2020. The completed ballot must be received by noon on November 6.

When will I get my ballot?
Starting in mid-September, local election officials will mail ballots to voters who requested them. Ballots will be mailed to voters in an envelope printed with a USPS tracking barcode, so you can track the status of your ballot.

Once you apply for a ballot by mail, your name is put on the by-mail list. Ii is expected that you will complete the ballot, seal it in the envelope, which you and a witness sign and date, and return it to the office, either by mail or in person.

Do I need to have a witness signature to my ballot?
No. A recent court decision has eliminated the witness requirement. However, after placing a marked ballot inside the provided return envelope, the envelope must be signed by the voter.

What if I change my mind and decide to vote in person?
If you decide to vote in person, you will need to return the unvoted ballot, have your name removed from the by-mail list, show ID to have your name put on the in-person list, be issued a new ballot, and vote. (If you don’t bring the ballot, you will be given a provisional ballot that will be counted after your original ballot is not received back voted.)

What about first-time voters?
First-time votes in a federal election must include a copy of a valid ID with their absentee ballot, or with the initial application for a ballot.

What about college student voters?
College students must declare their residence as Virginia to vote in person or by mail in the state. Click here for more information. Any college ID is acceptable.

How do I return my ballot?
You have several options:

  • Mail: voters are encouraged to mail ballots as soon as possible, or at least two weeks before the election (i.e., by October 19), to avoid predicted delays in the Postal Service. The VA Assembly recently approved prepaid postage for all mail-in ballots
  • Registrar’s Office: voters can visit their registrar’s office and hand in their ballot;
  • Drop-off Locations: jurisdictions have recently been mandated to have ballot drop-off locations at all early and Election Day voting precincts as an alternative to putting absentee ballots in the mail.

Because of the barcodes placed on mailed ballots, Virginia voters can go online and track the location of their mailed ballot.

The code specifies that the ballot must be either mailed or returned to the registrar’s office by the voter personally.

What is the deadline for returning my ballot?
Any mail ballot postmarked on or before Election Day will be accepted, as long as it is received by noon on the Friday after the election (November 6). A new regulation allows ballots received by noon of the Friday after the election, even if a postmark is missing or illegible.

If you have any questions, please visit the VA Department of Elections website  or call 804-864-8901.

You can also email


2021 Mah Jongg Cards

It’s Time to Order!


It’s that time of year again for you, your family members and friends (all over the world) -to order their 2021 Mah Jongg Cards. The new official NMJL card prices are: $9.00 for small cards, $10.00 for large cards. Let’s see if we can surpass our order of over 793 cards from last year for which the National Mah Jongg League sent us a rebate of over $1,500 to support our Temple and a variety of local and worldwide charities ..

To Order: CLICK HERE, print and mail in the form as instructed.

Please direct questions to Iva Gresko: email.

These are official cards and will be sent to you directly from the National Mah Jongg League in late March/early April.

TRS Rodef Rides

Rodef Rides is our new Volunteer Rides Program for TRS members by TRS members.

Rider Information

Rodef Rides is a free service for adult congregants that need a ride to TRS for Shabbat Servicers, or to participate in our wide array of rich stimulating programming. Rides can also be requested to attend medical / therapy appointments.

A ride can be coordinated by calling Rodef Rides at 703-942-9927 or emailing

We will make every attempt to accommodate your request for a ride, but we ask that all rides be requested 5 days in advance of the event or appointment.

Before requesting your first ride, a Client application must be completed. Click here to download the Rider Application and questionnaire. Please email your application to now to become registered with Rodef Rides.

Driver Information

TRS is now partnering with NV Rides ( to bring a volunteer driving program to our TRS community. We want to help our fellow congregants to fully participate in congregational life.

Whether you are coming for High Holidays, Shabbat or Mahjong, we need your help.

Our goal is to build a database of potential drivers, so when an adult congregant requests a ride to come to a program or needs to attend a medical or therapy appointment, we can coordinate a driver with a rider request. As a driver, you can choose to say yes you are available and willing to share and drive a congregant to the TRS event or you can choose to decline. The goal is to make our community more welcoming and inclusive, especially for those who struggle to get to the temple.

Many older adults are looking for opportunities to engage in the world around them but find themselves alone and isolated in their homes. Please assist us by helping them attend services or by giving them an opportunity to participate in our wide array of rich and stimulating programming.

We hope that you will consider joining us in this mission. To become a driver, Click here to download the Volunteer Driver Application. Please email your application to

Interested in learning more? Contact or 703-942-9927


My Jewish Moment

My Jewish Moment was a series of three workshops led by professional writers and editors from TRS in January 2020. Participants were encouraged to write a story about a special Jewish moment in their lives. Please enjoy some of these stories that were created and are now shared on this webpage.

If you are interested in submitting your own story or have any questions, please contact Carol Wolinsky, email or Wendy Cohen at email

Participant Stories

Wendy Cohen
Carol Wolinsky
Linda Marshall
Linda Marshall Snippets
Gail Fisher
Sue Pickens
Betty Jacobs

WoTRS Non-Event

I want to support the Women of Temple Rodef Shalom and the charities they support with my donation to the Purim Costume Ball – nonevent, as indicated below:

Please click the PayPal “Add to Cart” button below to donate a preset amount.

Please choose your preset donation amount below:

Please click the PayPal “Donate” button below to specify the amount you wish to donate. 


Charities Supported by Women of Temple Rodef Shalom Fiscal Year 2018-2019

Temple Rodef Shalom

Capital Campaign
Confirmation Gifts
Good Deeds Day
Youth Group Support
Welcome Baby

Reform Movement

Israel Religious Action Center
JBI International, formerly Jewish Braille Institute
Religious Action Center (RAC)
World Union for Progressive Judaism
Yes Fund of Women of Reform Judaism

Greater Jewish Community

American Jewish World Service
George Mason University Hillel
Jewish Community Relations Council
Jewish Council for the Aging
JSSA Northern Virginia
JSSA for Holocaust Survivors
Leket Israel
Magen David Adom
One Family Fund

Greater Community

CASA – Fairfax
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
Falls Church/McLean Children’s Center
Final Salute
Food for Others
Just Ask
Planned Parenthood
Second Story (Alternative House)
Shepherd Center
Southern Poverty Law Center
Suited for Change

Torah Service Honors


Temple Rodef Shalom has several honors that are available to be given out to family and friends at your simcha. Those that revolve around the Torah service are mentioned here. If you have any questions, please contact Julie Kaplan at (703-532-2217 x 313)


Prior to removing the Torah from the Ark, all grandparents, Jewish and non-Jewish, will be called up to the bimah, where they will stand with you and your child as they symbolically take part in the passing of the Torah from generation to generation. The grandparent(s) are honored at this time in the service, as they themselves have had a special role in their grandchild’s growth.

The Torah is placed into the arms of one parent, who then places the Torah into the arms of your child. The other parent then offers an English reading that the clergy will give you at the final rehearsal. If one of the parents is not Jewish, that parent will deliver the reading while the Jewish parent passes the Torah.

If there are no grandparents at the service, the family may request from the clergy that one other family member stand in for the grandparent’s generation. Likewise, if there is only one parent, the family may request from the clergy that one other family member recite the prayer at the moment of passing the Torah.


A maximum of two people may come up to the bimah to recite the Torah blessings before and after your child reads the first and second aliyot (Hebrew paragraphs). A total of 4 people may be given aliyah honors. One of these two people for each set must be Jewish.

The Jewish honoree completes the mitzvah by reciting the blessing before and after the Torah reading. The blessing may be chanted or read. A non-Jewish honoree will accompany the Jewish honoree and stand next to them during the blessings.

Anyone who is invited to participate in this ritual must be over the age of Bar or Bat Mitzvah (13 and above).


Our website has a recording, a how-to video and a downloadable blessing sheet to help learn the proper Hebrew and show how this ritual is performed.

Send this link to anyone given an Aliyah:

or follow the links under the Learn menu from our main website