Passover 2021


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
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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:

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.