Dear Temple Shalom Friends,
Over the past couple of weeks, we have been continuously moved by the way that members of our Temple Shalom community have stepped up and cared for each other. Whether through phone calls, Mitzvah Corps, Shabbat services, Torah study, shiva minyanim, bedtime stories and other virtual gatherings, our community is showing its strength and embracing the challenges presented by COVID-19. At the same time, we are also considering how to best proceed in order to protect the health and safety of our entire community. Based on what we know, we have decided that Temple Shalom will continue to suspend all in-person services, programming, meetings, religious school classes, and other in-building activities indefinitely. This provides important information about Temple Shalom’s ongoing activities, services, budget and staff.
Temple Shalom remains here for you. There is important information below about how we can assist you in these difficult times.
- Mitzvah Corps is working to provide support for Temple members, especially, but not limited to, those at higher risk and of vulnerable populations. If we can help you, please let us know by emailing the Mitzvah Corps at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the Temple office at 301-587-CARE (2273). If you need immediate assistance from Rabbi Ackerman, Rabbi Rosenberg, or Susan Zemsky, please check the Temple Shalom online directory for their cell numbers or email email@example.com to schedule a time to speak with any of them.
- Pastoral Care. While we are not doing in-person visits to hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living centers, rehabilitation units, or individual homes, our Clergy team is available by phone and video conference. Please continue to let us know how you are doing and how we can help.
- Congregant to Congregant Outreach. We hope that you recently received a call from the Temple’s lay leadership to see how you are doing, identify how we can help, and just stay in touch. Those calls continue to be made. Please do not wait to receive a call or to be asked to call someone; just pick up the phone and call a friend or a member, even if you do not know them well. We all need to be checked in on. We are trying to move to weekly check-ins of our community members, which means that we are looking for a significant number of volunteers to make approximately 10 calls each week. If you can provide support in this way, please contact Sherry Doggett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Financial Assistance. COVID-19 continues to impact our economy. That may affect each of our personal financial circumstances in different ways. If you need assistance paying a utility bill, buying groceries, filling a prescription, or meeting other basic needs, please contact one of the clergy, who have Mitzvah Funds to assist those in need. We are also incredibly grateful to our Sisterhood and Brotherhood who have have told us that they stand ready to help our clergy to meet the needs of our congregants as well. If you are looking for a way to financially support our community members in need, consider making a donation to one of our clergy’s Mitzvah Funds by mailing a check made out to Temple Shalom with designation to one of the Mitzvah Funds or by making an online donation HERE. In addition, if you are in need, The Hebrew Free Loan Association of Greater Washington is providing emergency, interest-free loans of up to $1,500 to those impacted financially by COVID-19.
- Membership Financial Obligations. To ensure that the Temple can continue to meet its commitments in the medium- and longer-term as the economic impact expands, if you remain able to do so, we urge you to continue to fulfill your remaining membership and Religious School commitments for this year. Please consider fulfilling the rest of your commitments early or even prepaying what you intended to pledge for next year. We know that others will not be able to do so and your generosity now will support others and our community as we recover. More importantly, if you need relief from your Temple financial commitments, please do not let that be an added worry for you. Our Financial Secretary Bev Potter stands ready to take that particular stress away. Please contact her at email@example.com so that she can support you and your family by alleviating financial burdens.
- Temple Clergy, Senior Staff, and our Administrative Team. Our clergy, senior staff, and administrative team continue to work remotely using our telework capabilities. Please be assured that we continue to meet our obligations to our employees, including in the Early Learning Center. Our ability to do so is a reflection of this community’s generosity and commitment to run Temple Shalom consistent with our Jewish values.
- Funerals and Shiva. We continue to be here to support one another through losses while protecting the most vulnerable. If you have not seen the article, Temple Shalom’s ability to do so was reflected in a recent Washington Post article, which is linked here. We will continue to work closely with family members to arrange for officiating at graveside funerals and virtual shiva minyanim. The procedures for graveside funerals are changing regularly and we are working with family members to officiate at funerals. As of now either the immediate family or a clergy-person may be present at the graveside and others may participate virtually. This practice may change based on cemetery, CDC, and rabbinic practices. Regardless of how we mark a loved one’s passing now, we can plan public in-person memorial services at a later date.
- Virtual Programming. We know that many of us miss getting together with smaller groups of their Temple friends. If you would like to use the Temple’s Zoom accounts to have a virtual hang-out, cocktail hour, Stitch and Kvetvch, or other small group gathering, or if you have a class or program you would like to host for the broader community, Alyssa Berez is our Virtual Programming Coordinator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions and technical support. Please use this Google form to ask for access to the Zoom accounts for a smaller gathering or to propose a wider program or class.
Our incredible team (professionals, lay leaders, and congregants) have been working hard to provide another inspiring week of virtual experiences for all ages. Please review the Weekly Email listing the Temple’s upcoming virtual events. As always, links are also available HERE on our website. Please note, the title of each program is the direct Zoom link. If there are other methods of joining in addition to Zoom they are listed below the program. If you are having trouble accessing Zoom, please contact Alyssa.
We know this is an incredibly difficult time. We encourage you to reach out to Temple members, clergy, staff, and lay leadership to share how you are feeling, or simply to check in. While we continue to practice social distancing in order to maximize the health of our entire community, we encourage everyone to participate in virtual gatherings which provide a powerful connection to our community. We look forward to learning, praying, and virtually gathering with you throughout the weeks to come.
Please reach out to any of us if you have any questions.
L’Shalom (In Peace),
Rabbi Rachel Ackerman, Senior Rabbi
Susan Zemsky, Executive Director
Rabbi Ira Rosenberg, Rabbi Educator
Michael Rubin, President
Jeff Steger, Executive Vice President