A Washington D.C. Area Reform Synagogue  •  Location  •   (301) 587-2273 (CARE)  •  ten.molahselpmet@ofni


Let’s Get Together with Vaccines

Dear Temple Shalom Friends and Families:

We are pleased to announce that in support of our continuing return to in-person activities, the Board of Trustees has adopted a COVID19 Vaccine Policy with the goal of using this policy to move as expeditiously as possible towards our return to in-person programming and services.

Summary of the Policy. Effective July 6, 2021, all in-person attendees of Temple-affiliated services and programs (on-site and off-site) who are at least 12 years of age as of May 25, 2021 and medically eligible for the COVID19 vaccines must be fully vaccinated (meaning two weeks after the last required shot). Those who turn 12 after May 25 must be fully vaccinated within 8 weeks after their birthday. If you are not medically able to be vaccinated, please contact Susan Zemsky or Rabbi Ackerman. Temple members will not be required to provide proof of vaccination. If non-members are required to provide proof of vaccination for certain activities, that requirement will be communicated in connection with that activity.

Why require vaccines? We hope that knowing that those around us at Temple events are vaccinated (if eligible) will be reassuring to both congregants and staff, especially those for whom vaccines may be less effective, who are not medically eligible, and who are under age 12. We all owe a true debt to the scientists, physicians, health care workers, and others who have made these vaccines possible. Every day we see what these miracles of modern science mean for our path back to normalcy. At Temple Shalom, that includes an expansion of in-person activities being planned through the summer, the much anticipated sounds of our children filling the halls and grounds of Temple Shalom during Religious School in the Fall, and our anticipated relaxation of COVID-19 Health Protocols as we are quickly gaining more real world experience.

The Jewish values of vaccines. You can explore the Jewish values underlying Compulsory Immunization for participation in synagogue life in a responsum issued a number of years ago by the Central Conference of American Rabbis, as well as the teshuvah (PDF) issued by the Conservative movement in January 2021 specific to Jewish institutions requiring COVID19 vaccination for those medically eligible.

So let’s get together! As announced in our May 21 communication, we encourage you to contact Director of Congregational Engagement Missy Mandell (ten.molahselpmet@yssim, or use this FORM) to organize or suggest outside activities, programs, or gatherings both for fully vaccinated attendees and for mixed groups of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. We were excited to see the Book Club together last week, 8-12 graders planning to solve a murder mystery with Xani on the Hal Bruno Patio this coming Saturday night, and Brotherhood’s in-person meeting scheduled for June 9.

Fully vaccinated groups! We previously announced that starting June 8, for activities where attendees are fully vaccinated, physical distancing and masking may be relaxed and grab-and-go or BYO (non-communal) food and drink may be consumed in consultation with Temple staff. We are making those allowances available immediately given the remarkable improvement in local community spread metrics. Contact Missy to help bring fully vaccinated groups together.

And then what will happen? Now that Missy has started full time, you can expect a steady ramp up of in-person engagement in June and throughout the summer. We are putting together a calendar of summer events. Get in touch with Missy now to let us know your ideas for both adult and youth activities. You can also request a program by filling out the In Person Event Request Form. In the meantime, check the weekly programming email on Thursdays or the Weekly Services and Programming page for in-person opportunities. If there is an in-person program you would like to see happen in the coming weeks but are not equipped to organize, please let Missy know and we can see if this program is doable.

Come say goodbye to Shabbat together! We will be enjoying in-person Havdalah gatherings periodically during the summer, starting with two events on Saturday, June 12 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm (weather permitting):

  • Throughout the Temple grounds, our incredible 8th graders will come together with our clergy for Havdalah fun to celebrate their class’s last b’nai mitzvah service that morning. Mazel Tov to all of our eighth graders for completing the longest b’not/b’nai mitzvah “year” ever!
  • If you are a fully vaccinated adult (including parents of our 8th graders), join us for drinks and some individually packaged nibbles on the Hal Bruno Memorial Patio, with Havdalah blessings when the sun goes down. This will be a mask-optional gathering. Look for a registration form and additional details next week.

If your chavurah, auxiliary, committee, club, etc. would like to lead a Havdalah program this summer, please contact Missy.

Come welcome Shabbat together on July 9! We are planning details for our return to in-person Erev Shabbat services led by Rabbi Rachel Ackerman, Rabbi Joshua Gischner, and Cantorial Soloist Emily Meyer on July 9 at 6 p.m. on the Temple grounds. We are also thrilled that Student Cantor Sarina Elenbogen-Siegel will begin joining us two weekends a month in June, July and August. We are eagerly awaiting word from the Hebrew Union College (HUC) on when it will be lifting restrictions on in-person congregational visits by its student cantors and the details of the health protocols that HUC will require of congregations when its students are present. Once we know that information, we will be able to finalize and announce our schedule for in-person Erev Shabbat services after July 9. Stay tuned for more information. We cannot wait to hear our collective voices together again.

What about virtual? Over the past year, we have discovered that virtual services work better for a wide range of congregants, such as families with young children and congregants for whom getting to the Temple has long been a challenge for a host of reasons. This revelation has been shared throughout the Reform movement. We hope to carry that lesson forward even once we are fully back to “normal” by piloting a fully virtual service about once a month to provide the type of active virtual participation that is much more difficult with streaming of an in-person service.

Please let us know if you have questions or need assistance in figuring out where to get vaccinated. We can’t wait to see you in person! It’s going to be an exciting summer.

L’Shalom (In Peace),

Rabbi Rachel Ackerman
Susan Goutos Zemsky
Michael Rubin
Jeff Steger

P.S. We know there are too many exclamation points in this email, but they represent how truly excited we are. We look forward to being together in person again

Scroll to Top