Covid Advisory Group Members

Name, Professional Role/Expertise

Heidi Appel, Medical, Pediatric
Amy Beckman, Mental Health and TRS President
Angie Boyce, Public Health and Social Science
Bill Corr, Health and Human Services
Jennifer Gorrelick, Medical, Internal Medicine
Matt Korn, Internet Operations and TRS Treasurer Elect
Ken Lifland, TRS VP Internal Operations
Paul Locke, Public Health
Rachel Locke, Public Health
Barbara Moss, TRS Facilities Management
Rob Plunkett, Public School Admin. Fairfax City
Cristi Schwarcz, Public Health CDC
Geoff Zeldes, Medical Officer State Department
Josh Zelenka, Technology

Rabbi Amy Schwartzman, Clergy
Cantor Michael Shochet, Clergy
Jessica Ingram, TRS Executive Director

TRS staff are invited to join the CAG meetings on an as-needed basis to share updates and get guidance on issues relating to their various portfolios. 

Mask Resources and Recommendations

Resources and Suggested Best Practices for Mask Wearing for the TRS ECC Community and Congregation

Overview

In keeping with the CDC’s call to members of the public to “Improve the Fit and Filtration of Your Mask to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19,” the TRS COVID Advisory Group (CAG) put together a supplemental resource document to provide the TRS ECC Community and Congregation with a consolidated list of some options and best practices for mask wearing. Especially as we return to TRS for community and worship activities, ensuring that each person is wearing the best mask for their protection and others will be crucial.

Upgrade your mask with the 3F’s: Filter + Fit + Function

If you are currently using a cloth mask and would like to know more about how to upgrade, three helpful characteristics to consider are the 3 F’s: Filter, Fit, and Function. Upgraded masks are better able to filter small particles that carry viruses because they are made of special materials like multiple layers of nonwoven/electrostatic fibers or nanofibers. One measure scientists use for this is % VFE (Viral Filtration Efficiency). Cloth masks can vary widely between 20-70% VFE while N95s use materials with 99% VFE. But to be more protective, a mask needs to fit the face tightly, covering the nose and mouth, and creating as best a seal to the face as possible without gaps. (For example, while N95s use 99% VFE material, they must fit the face closely to provide a certified 95% VFE level of total protection.)  Finally, a mask needs to function, it needs to be comfortable and breathable so you can actually wear it for longer periods of time. The following infographic illustrates the 3Fs and where different upgraded masks fall on a spectrum of effectiveness:

Beware of counterfeit masks

There are a lot of counterfeit masks circulating. Please be cautious if purchasing masks from Amazon, e-bay, or other e-commerce sites because these sites do not effectively screen out counterfeit products. Also, please avoid KN95 masks that are not FDA EUA approved (you can check the list here: https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-emergency-use-authorizations-medical-devices/personal-protective-equipment-euas).

Additional Information on Mask Options and Resources

The links below contain suggestions of particular products and brands that have worked well for members of the TRS community, and that are reputable brands. TRS does not endorse or promote buying any one particular brand or company over another, but has pulled together these suggested links in case they are of interest for the community. These resource links are for masks that can promote effective filtering, fit, and function, but there are also many other types and brands of masks available as well.

For adults

  • KF94 masks (the Korean equivalent of N95s), are becoming more widely available in the US. The biggest trusted distributor in the US is https://behealthyusa.net, and some TRS community members particularly like the Bluna Facefit. The Bluna Facefit tends to work well for women or men with smaller faces. For those with larger faces, the BOTN brand tends to work well.
  • KN95s (the Chinese equivalent of N95s), have been widely available in the US for months, but there are a number of counterfeit masks circulating, even in stores. Your best bet for a trusted KN95 is the Powecom brand, available here: https://bonafidemasks.com/face-masks/kn95-respirator-face-masks/.
  • Nanofilter masks are a newer technology, some have KF94 or the European equivalent FFP2 certification. While they are not as proven over time as the standard protective mask material that is nonwoven/electrostatic, they are more cleanable/washable/reusable. This nanofilter mask has a 90% VFE, and this is an FFP2 nanomask. Some masks have nanofilters sewn inside of cloth – this one is liked by some in the TRS community (has kid sizes too).
  • If you want to double mask using a surgical mask inside of a tight-fitting cloth mask, please make sure you use one that is rated ASTM 2 or ASTM 3. Here is a high quality ASTM 3 surgical mask made in the USA: https://www.armbrustusa.com. To improve fit, double masking with a tight fitting cloth mask, a mask fitter, knotting/looping, etc is needed. Info about mask fitters is here: https://making.engr.wisc.edu/mask-fitter/

For kids

  • A KF94 that fits age 4+ well is Bluna Facefit Small, and the behealthy site has a few other kid-sized options.  For the 3+ crowd, this Blue 2D mask might fit better as it is a little smaller. For 2 year olds, these options may be too big to fit well, but fit can be improved with a tightening head strap accessory like this one.
  • The Happy Masks nanofilter cloth mask that is available for adults also has kid sizes.
  • Armbrust surgical masks come in a child size, but they work better for older children.
  • Taiwan Masks sells ASTM 2 or ASTM 3 surgical masks that can fit 2-6 year olds or 6+ year olds.

Can I Reuse Masks?

Upgraded masks can be more expensive. What can help with per-use cost is reuse. While most of these masks were originally designed for single use, preliminary research indicates it is possible to reuse them on a limited basis without major degradation of VFE. For nonwoven/electrostatic filters, a maximum of 40 hours of total use is recommended.[1] If wet or soiled the mask should be discarded.  Keep masks in a clean, breathable container, like a paper bag, between uses.[2] Rotate between 3-4 masks to allow 3-4 days between reuse, ensuring virus die-off.[3]

Nanofilters vary but in general are reusable for a longer period of time. For example, the SoomLab HPB mask has no hour limit but can be reused up to 10x (with an ethanol or isopropyl alcohol spray cleaning step, do NOT use soap), and the Happy Mask has a 250 hour limit and a 50x wash limit (hand wash, soap and water). For these two masks, follow manufacturer instructions.

Additional Information Sources to Learn More

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/mask-fit-and-filtration.html

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7007e1.htm

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/01/26/n95-masks-safest-next-best-options/

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/17/technology/personaltech/buy-real-n95-mask.html

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/02/03/962197192/5-hacks-to-make-your-face-mask-more-protective

https://www.patientknowhow.com

If you have any questions about resources and best practices for mask wearing for the TRS ECC Community, please contact Parents Committee Member Angie Boyce (angieboyce@gmail.com, 650.793.5499)

If you have any questions about resources and best practices for mask wearing for the TRS Congregation, please contact TRS Executive Director Jessica Ingram (jingram@templerodefshalom.org, 703.676.3871)

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7200848/

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/hcwcontrols/recommendedguidanceextuse.html

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7161499/

Guidelines for In-Person Gatherings

As the summer gets underway and the country begins to reopen, we have much to be grateful for. Vaccination rates continue to rise and case numbers have decreased significantly.

As Jews, our tradition emphasizes the concept of communal responsibility: the Talmud states that all of Israel are responsible for each other (Shevuot 39a). We have an obligation to step in and help when we see someone in crisis. This vaccine is not merely a personal act of health care; it is a path towards religious and communal healing. If you are able to be vaccinated, we strongly encourage you to do so – not just for yourself but for all in our community, especially those who are most vulnerable and unable to be vaccinated. 

We continue to work closely with our COVID Advisory Group, comprised of TRS members working in the public health and medical fields. We are pleased to share a number of steps we are now taking to thoughtfully bring our community back together:

  • Up to 150 people (20% capacity) may join our clergy in the sanctuary for in-person Shabbat worship on Friday evenings and pre-registration is no longer required. Our services will continue to be live-streamed each week for those who wish to join us online.
  • Committee chairs have been invited to schedule meetings, programs and events at the temple. Social distancing will be maintained – we are fortunate to have many large spaces, both indoors and out, where groups can safely and comfortably gather.
  • Masks continue to be required at all times within the Temple, regardless of vaccination status. In accordance with CDC guidelines, those who are fully vaccinated may choose to remove their masks outdoors.

This checklist is intended for anyone planning a Temple-sanctioned in-person program or event. Please review this guidance and ensure you are able to comply with the guidelines before planning or scheduling an event. There should be two people designated to take responsibility for implementing this checklist.

TRS Phased Activity Guidelines

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, TRS has adapted in a number of amazing and agile ways. Our goal has been to hold the safety of our members, clergy and staff as our highest priority, while ensuring we can all still feel our sense of Jewish community. We thank everyone who has been flexible and understanding as we’ve navigated this difficult situation. The pandemic has cemented the importance of the Jewish value and concept of Pikuach Nefesh or the saving of human life: “Saving human life is Judaism’s highest mitzvah, superseding even the commandments concerning the observance of Shabbat. According to tradition, it was permissible to interrupt the ancient Temple sacrifices when necessary to save a life.”

This document builds off of the earlier iteration of our TRS COVID-19 FAQ, and outlines a phased plan for the wide range of activities and services that TRS provides. It is intended to show the thought process and benchmarks by which decisions are being made, and to serve as a high level guide for tactical strategies going forward. Together, the TRS Executive Director, clergy, staff leadership, and CAG will track changes in important COVID-19 metrics and make recommendations and suggestions about moving back and forth between phases. While we will be informed by the metrics below, they will not be the only factors driving decision making. We will also do our best to anticipate emerging trends like new, more contagious variants of the virus, and while we may see downward trend lines in some key metrics appear, that case numbers are still higher than during previous months of the pandemic.

Metrics to be used with pertinent data sources are included below. While we will focus on these metrics in Fairfax County, we will also examine these metrics in Virginia, DC and surrounding counties since our congregation is spread across several counties.

At any time, if there are cases of COVID-19 that constitute community spread within the Temple, all in person activities may be halted and/or shifted to virtual activities until there is no community spread within the Temple.

Every stage of potential expansion of activities at the temple will commence based on a decision by TRS leadership considering recommendations of applicable authorities and an incremental approach.

Phase A – Virtual activities only

  • Health and Safety Protocols for all people in the Temple
    • There are very few/no people in the Temple, minus essential activities for maintenance and construction workers, clergy, and appropriate technical support to conduct virtual services.
    • Prior to entering the building, essential personnel must complete a COVID screening form, using either the temple’s link or QR codes posted on the doors, or a screening form provided by their own employer. Mask wearing for people age 2 and older when in public settings/when around people who don’t live in their household and social distancing are required.
  • Early Childhood Center (formerly known as the Nursery School): The ECC operates virtually.
  • Religious School: Religious school operates virtually.
  • Office/Admin: No office or administration staff are in the building, except for essential activities. Prior to entering the building, the electronic health screening form must be satisfactorily filled out, using either the link or QR codes posted on the doors. Masks must be worn at all times- they may be removed if the staff member is alone in an office with the door closed but must be readily available should other individuals approach your workspace. Social distancing of 6 feet is also required; no in-person meetings should take place.
  • Worship:
    • Weekly Worship: Weekly worship is virtual for congregants, with all clergy and staff participating remotely.
    • Holiday Workshop: Holiday worship is virtual only.
    • Bar and Bat Mitzvahs: Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are virtual services only.
    • Life Cycle Events (funerals, weddings, baby namings, divorce rituals, conversions): All life cycle events are virtual.
    • Programming: There is no in person congregant driven programming at the Temple.
    • Camp: Camp operates virtually.

Metrics to move to Phase B

  • New hospitalization rates – a downward trend in the 7 day moving average in hospitalization rates for no fewer than 14 days
  • Daily new cases per 100K – a downward trend in the 7 day moving average in daily new cases for no fewer than 14 days
  • Moving average of percent positive tests – 10% or less for no fewer than 14 days
  • Localities of concern are not experiencing significant community spread/are at critical risk given overall trends of COVID-19 cases

Phase B – Few in-person activities, emphasis on virtual community

  • Health and Safety Protocols for all Temple visitors
    • There are very few/no people in the Temple, minus essential activities for maintenance and construction workers, clergy, and appropriate technical support to conduct virtual services.
    • Prior to entering the building, essential personnel must complete a COVID screening form, using either the temple’s link or QR codes posted on the doors, or a screening form provided by their own employer. Mask wearing for people age 2 when in masks in public settings/when around people who don’t live in their household and social distancing are required.
  • Early Childhood Center (formerly known as the Nursery School): The ECC operates with strict health and safety guidelines in place, in coordination with requirements from the Fairfax County Health Department. For more information, contact Jessica Ingram or Rene Shiohama.
  • Religious School: Religious school operates mostly virtually, with limited activities, held outdoors only, for families following TRS COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
  • Office/Admin: Limited office and administration staff are in TRS, based on need for essential activities and at the discretion of the Executive Director.
  • Weekly Worship: Weekly worship is virtual for congregants, and some clergy and staff on site to perform essential functions for worship.
  • Holiday Worship: Holiday workshop is virtual, with some limited in person activities that follow TRS COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, held outdoors primarily (ex. Shofar blowing for the High Holidays at Wolf Trap)
  • Bar and Bat Mitzvahs: Bar and Bat Mitzvah families have the option for a virtual service or a limited in person service with up to 10 people, not including clergy and support staff.
  • Life Cycle Events (funerals, weddings, baby namings, divorce rituals, conversions): All Life Cycle events are limited to 10 people, not including clergy and support staff.
  • Programming: Programming is largely virtual. Any in person programming will follow TRS COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, and is held outdoors.
  • Camp: Camp operates virtually.

Metrics to move back to Phase A

  • Hospitalization rates – an upward trend in hospitalization rates for more than 14 days
  • Positive test rate – positive test rate is 10% or greater for a 14 day period
  • Daily new cases – an upward trend in daily new cases in Fairfax County for a 14 day period
  • Review and evaluation of other relevant metrics, based on the judgment of the TRS COVID-19 task force

Metric to move to Phase C

  • New hospitalization rates – a downward trend the 7 day moving average in hospitalization rates for no fewer than 14 days
  • Daily new cases per 100K – a downward trend in the 7 day moving average in daily new cases for no fewer than 14 days
  • Test positivity rate is 10% or less for no fewer than 14 days
  • Localities of concern are not experiencing significant community spread/are at critical risk given overall trends of COVID-19 cases

*TRS will enter Phase C on March 1, 2021

Phase C – Limited in-person activities, emphasis on virtual community and outdoor activities

  • Health and Safety Protocols for all Temple visitors
    • Only personnel with essential purposes are in the Temple.
    • Prior to entering the building, essential personnel must complete a COVID screening form, using either the temple’s link or QR codes posted on the doors, or a screening form provided by their own employer. Mask wearing and social distancing are required.
    • This phase may coincide with a period of time in which people are starting to get COVID-19 vaccinations – until scientific and public health officials have determined that a high enough proportion of the population has been immunized, mask wearing for people age 2 when in masks in public settings/when around people who don’t live in their household and social distancing are required.
  • Early Childhood Center (formerly known as the Nursery School): The ECC operates with strict health and safety guidelines in place, in coordination with requirements from the Fairfax County Health Department. For more information, contact Jessica Ingram or Rene Shiohama.
  • Religious School: Decisions about religious school in 2021 are underway.
  • Office/Admin: Office and administrative staff may be working in the building on a limited basis, with health and safety protocols in case at the discretion of the Executive Director.
  • Worship: Weekly Worship services will continue to be provided virtually, with small group limited in person options offered. Friday night services may have up to 20 congregants attend. Protocols for attending will be outlined in specific guidance and registration options sent out in early Spring 2021.
  • Holiday Workshop: Large scale Holiday worship activities will be conducted virtually.
  • Bar and Bat Mitzvahs: Bar and Bat Mitzvah families have the option for a virtual service, or a limited in person service with 20 people in one defined space, not including clergy and support staff for services.
  • Life Cycle Events (funerals, weddings, baby namings, divorce rituals, conversions): All life cycle events may include up to 20 people in one defined space, not including clergy and support staff.
  • Programming: Programming is largely virtual. Any in person programming will follow TRS COVID-19 health and safety guidelines and is held outdoors.
  • Camp: Camp will operate to 50% capacity with significant COVID-19 precautions and guidance for campers and staff. For more information, contact Camp Director Emma Davidson.

Metric to move back to Phase B

  • New hospitalization rates – an upward trend the 7 day moving average in hospitalization rates for no fewer than 14 days
  • Daily new cases per 100K – an upward trend in the 7 day moving average in daily new cases for no fewer than 14 days
  • Moving average of percent positive tests – 10% or greater for no fewer than 14 days
  • Review and evaluation of other relevant metrics, based on the judgment of the TRS COVID-19 task force

This document is an ongoing guidance document, and phases past Phase C are still in consideration. These phases will need to take into account vaccination rates and herd immunity of our communities and will be discussed later in 2021.

Health Protocols for Shabbat Worship Reopening

Health Screening

A health screening questionnaire is available electronically here.

The form includes the following questions and participants must honestly answer “No” to each question to be eligible for entry (responses will be kept strictly confidential):

  • Are you fully vaccinated?
  • Have you or anyone in your household experienced any of the following symptoms in the past 48 hours: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea
  • Within the past 14 days, have you, or anyone in your household, had close contact (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more) with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19?
  • Have you or anyone in your household tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 10 days, or waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test?

If you do not feel well, we ask that you stay at home. We will look forward to seeing you another time.

While at the Temple

  • Doors will open at 6:15.
  • Masks must be worn at all times while in the temple (double masking is recommended). If you arrive at the synagogue without a mask, a mask will be provided to you. If someone in your party is unable to wear a mask for any reason, please join us virtually. If you are in the sanctuary and need to remove your mask, we will ask you to step out of the sanctuary until you can replace it.
  • Social distancing will be practiced in the Sanctuary – we ask that you leave at least 6 feet of space between your household and others as you select your seats.
  • Bathrooms will be available for use.
  • At the end of services, we ask you to maintain social distancing as you leave, and socialize outside as much as possible.

These requirements must be agreed to and adhered to regardless of vaccination status.

Passover 2021

Friends,

During Passover, we celebrate the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. We share the story of this transformation from enslavement to freedom at our seders each year. As such, this festival has often been referred to as, the Seasons of our Freedom.

Last year at Passover, when all of us had been in quarantine for such a short time, it was difficult to think about the concept of freedom. So much of our ability to move around, at will, had been curtailed. Even the most mundane of tasks – like grocery shopping for fetching the mail – seemed fraught with peril.

And yet, we still rejoiced. We rejoiced because Passover, more than any other holiday on our calendar, teaches us to count our blessings. During the seder, we sing Dayenu which means “it would have been enough.” The lyrics teach us that had God only liberated us from Egypt…Dayenu, it would have been enough. Had God only made sure we had food during a long trek through the desert…Dayenu, it would have been enough. And on and on.

During the long night of this pandemic, many of us – in fact, most of us – can say Dayenu. We are grateful for warm homes, enough food, access to healthcare, even beautiful trails to get us outside, safely to enjoy the spectacular landscapes that surround us.

Vaccinations are rolling out. Better treatments for this terrible virus are being deployed.

We are part of a strong Jewish community. We have taken care of each other and we have taken care of our neighbors. We got out the vote and showed up at the polls. We stood against racial injustice and continue to confront our own biases. We have donated food to local pantries and winder clothing to those in need.

This Passover, let us all gather together, once again on Zoom, turn our faces to the heavens and say, again, Dayenu.

Zissen Pesach – a sweet Passover – to us all!

Rabbi Amy Schwartzman
Cantor Michael Shochet
Rabbi Jeff Saxe
Cantor Rachel Rhodes
Rabbi Stephanie Bernstein

Worship & Community Seder

Family Friendly First Day of Passover Service
Sunday, March 28 10:30 – 11:30 AM
While we won’t be able to join together for our annual Matzah Brie Brunch after services, we’d love to see what you’re cookin’ up! Many of us have the absolute best recipe for matzah brie. Post recipes and photos on social media and tag us! #matzvahbrie #trspassover2021 #pandemicpassover
Join Link: www.templerodefshalom.org/live/

Second Night Seder
Sunday, March 28 5:30 – 8:30 PM
Our clergy will host lively, interactive, musical Z’eder (Zoom Seder) this year! Gather your family together…whether they are in Virginia, California, Israel, or points in between…and hear again the story of our liberation. Register here

Erev Last Day of Passover and Shabbat Service
Friday, April 2 6:30 PM
A congregational Erev Shabbat service featuring Yizkor, remembering those who passed away this year, traditionally recited on the eve of the last day of Passover.
Join Link: www.templerodefshalom.org/live/

Shabbat Across the USA with Noah Aronson
Friday, April 2 8:00 PM
Join TRS clergy, musician Noah Aronson, and other congregations across the country for a virtual Shabbat service ending our musical and study retreat, Holy Wanderers. For more information on this week-long retreat, please see ‘Community Engagement’ below.
Click here for more information.

Community Engagement

Passover Food Drive
Monday, March 22 – Thursday, March 25 (8:00 AM – 6:00 PM)
In traditional Jewish communities, any trace of chametz, food with leavening, is thoroughly scrubbed from pantries, cupboards, and tabletops. Some families will “sell” their chametz to a non-Jewish friend or neighbor and others will give it away. In keeping with the idea of ridding our homes of chametz, let’s donate some FRESH, UNOPENED chametz-y products to SHARE! Pasta, flour, breakfast cereals, pancake mix, ramen noodles, mac’n’cheese, and granola bars would be perfect to donate; but, as always, any items on this list would be gratefully accepted!

Immersive Walks
Saturday, March 27 2:00 – 3:00 PM
As the ancient Israelites walked from Egypt towards the land of milk and honey, so much changed for them…for us. What did they learn about freedom? What rituals did they create? How did they prepare for the work of covenant-building, of nation-building? What stories did they carry? Select the immersive walk of your choice, join via Zoom to listen to personal narratives and memories, poetry, music. Grab your headphones, a bottle of water, and an extra layer and let’s walk through the wilderness together. Not into walking? Then join us while you tend to chores or from the comfort of your sofa. This auditory performance will be archived.

  • Our Many Voices – From Aaron Samuels’ profound poem, Ritual, to Aurora Levins Morales’ contemplation on mango charoseth from her Puerto Rican traditions, we will uplift and celebrate the diversity of the Jewish people – in all our glorious colors, in all our rich voices, in all our meaningful rituals. TRS is pleased to partner with Theater J in the development of this content. Voiceover Director, Kevin Place, and Casting Director, Jenna Duncan, will work with area actors in these spoken word performances. Register here
  • Passover: A Playlist – Plug in and let your toes tap and your heart soar as you enjoy the music of the seasons. Musical selections, carefully curated by our cantors, will energize your walk and get you in the mood for your family seder. Register here

The Passover Daily
Monday, March 29 – Friday, April 2 12:00 – 12:30 PM
(log on at 11:45 AM for schmooze time!)
Grab your lunch and gather together with a member of our TRS clergy team each weekday to learn more about Passover. Look for the link in the weekly E-letter.

  • Monday, March 29: Rabbi Jeff Saxe will lead a conversation on “Freedom and Justice: Passover, Slavery, and Reparations.” Using texts from both Jewish and secular sources, we will study and discuss the issue of reparations to African Americans for slavery in America.
  • Tuesday, March 30: “Tales of the Mouse and Weasel” is the title of Rabbi Stephanie Bernstein’s Passover Daily. Rabbi Bernstein will explore how the Rabbis used the mouse, the weasel, and the search for chametz to teach about the limits to which we should go in preparing for Passover.
  • Wednesday, March 31: Cantor Allen Leider has “Lots and Lots of Matzah” on his mind. Join him for some matzah fun – its symbolism in Jewish tradition, how it is manufactured, surprising matzah trivia to impress your friends, and your shared ideas for yummy matzah creations.
  • Thursday, April 1: Rabbi Amy Schwartzman will lead an exploration of “Mitzrayim” – Egypt – in the Torah, in midrash, and in our lives today.
  • Friday, April 2: Student Cantor Laynie Zell will complete our week of Passover Daily programs with an examination of the Song of Songs – our Biblical book of love poetry – and Passover. Musical settings from the text will be featured.

Holy Wanderers: Concert and Virtual Retreat with Noah Aronson
Sunday, March 28 – Friday, April 2
In collaboration with renowned Jewish musician, Noah Aronson, Temple Rodef Shalom is pleased to announce a specially designed five-day mini-retreat for Passover. Combining music, mindfulness, movement, meditation, and text study, Noah Aronson will lead five unique workshops exploring the various character traits of Moses, Miriam, Aaron, and Batya. Through this lens, we will explore the traits of Courage, Vulnerability, Awareness, Humility and Faith and practice ways that these traits can guide us through the wilderness of our own selves.

We will begin with a virtual family concert on Sunday, March 28, at 4:00 PM, and end with a Shabbat service on Friday, April 2, at 8:00 PM, which will feature participation by our clergy. You may pick and choose any workshop or musical program to attend from home. This virtual program is sponsored by the Temple Rodef Shalom Music and Performing Arts Committee. To sign up for any of the offerings, click here.

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, www.templerodefshalom.org.live. We hope to “see” you there!

L’Shalom,
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.