Click here for the speech given by TRT President, Tmima Grinvald on Rosh Hashanah 5780 – September 30, 2019
Continuing Our Story …
When I first saw the video we just watched (created by The Museum of the Jewish People, Beit Hatfustot), I immediately thought about our community: Temple Rodeph Torah, and I loved the line : “We make up one unique ongoing story, we need to keep writing it.”
Generations of students have come through our halls. Our youngest learn about their heritage by reenacting Bible Stories and Jewish life cycle events; they study creative modern Jewish media; they discover what fighting Anti-Semitism means, and of course, they prepare for their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.
Many adult members enrich their Jewish world by taking Adult Education classes. As our name Rodeph Torah suggests, we are truly seekers of knowledge. Yet, we are not content with simply studying. Our community has taken Jewish values on the road.
Our congregation actively embodies one of the important pillars of Judaism: Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. Many are attracted to: our continued devotion to making the world a better place, our strive for excellence in Jewish education, and our open arms and warm community. one may ask: how a small congregation like ours makes a difference at all? Let’s consider …
- Our 10th grade confirmation class has been participating in the L’Taken program at the Religious Action Center in DC for more than thirty years now. Our confirmands immerse themselves in a 4-day program to gain experience in lobbying. They emerge confident in their roles and lobby our own representatives on the last day of the program. From that point forward they have the tools to ensure that our elected officials stay on task with matters that are important to us as citizens of a free country, and as Jews who take a stance for Tikkun Olam.
- Our younger teens engage in an interactive High school program starting at 8th They cover topics of Jewish study and meaningful deeds through creative courses, taking their Jewish Journey up to creating a personal code of Ethics, which they could follow for the rest of their life.
- * Our B’Nai Mitzvah lead their service on their important day of their Jewish journey and not just read from the Torah, citing a few blessings. I have attended Bar/Bat Mitzvah services in many temples. And hands down, our kids bring unparalleled depth and wisdom to the bimah. Watching them find their place in the Jewish world, as they give their sermon from their heart, makes me proud, as I know it does to their families.
- Our congregation carries food, coat, toy drives, and also collections for our troops all year around. In our most known Yom Kippur Food Drive, we bring thousands of meals to families in need. Just imagine for a minute, while we don’t eat for 26 hours by our own choice on YK, others struggle to put food on the table for their loved ones, 26 out of 30 days a month, not because they have much choice in the matter. And WE do something about it!
- Our community is a place to celebrate Jewish Holidays together with a mix of warmth and excitement:
- From our Men’s Club building the Sukkah as a team to our Sisterhood selling Honey for a sweet New Year, volunteers from all arms of our temple create this thriving Kehilah.
- When you see our sanctuary filled with families lighting their menorahs and singing Hanukah songs, you know it’s a special winter night that brings joy and reminds us who we really are.
- When our Purim Shpeilers put on the annual satirical play about Queen Ester and King Achashverosh you know that our heritage story has not been forgotten. More so, it contains funny twists and modern melodies. You see, when I grew up, you would go to listen to a serious megillah reading. In my dreams, I would not think that it could be so engaging to all ages. And even on this day we integrate acts of loving-kindness. Did you know that our Mac&Cheese gorgers become food collection for the local food bank? How clever is that?
Purim also allows us to focus inward. We embrace our friendship through sending Purim Baskets within our own community! We gather our kids for a fun day, where our RTSY Youth Group oversees Carnival games. And this is only one of the many youth-led events we have throughout the year.
And this year… of course, we are going to go through a transition period. And yes, that may be difficult. Welcoming a new cantor and preparing for Rabbi Weber’s retirement after 36 years of leading our congregation, is only part of what we will do together. But rest be assured the steadfast transition team we put in place and our dedicated board will take us to the next chapter, safe and sound. This year, we’ll have Rock Simchat Torah, Rock Shabbats, B’Nai Mitzvah celebrations, Hanukah, Shabbat Shira, Purim, Yom Hashoah, a celebration for Rabbi Weber’s retirement, and so much more. Check out the flyers in the HH bags that you’ll be taking home to see more details.
I know we can accomplish all of this because of the very special people who make up this community. People who are:
These people are all of you! We are a link in a chain of generations. It is up to us to continue that chain through choices we make, through participation and through being role models to our children and grandchildren.
Years ago, when I visited Yad Vashem in Israel, there was one place that struck a deep cord within my heart. To this day I remember the Valley of the Communities.
Over 5000 names of communities are engraved on the stone walls in the Valley of the Communities. Each name recalls a Jewish community which existed for hundreds of years; for the inhabitants, each community constituted an entire world. Today, in most cases, nothing remains but the name.
When those communities existed, families shared life cycles together from Baby naming to Bar Mitzvah to Weddings and beyond. They supported each other at times of sorrow; Parents and grandparents were joyful seeing their kids going to Hebrew School for the first time to learn their first Hebrew words; They lit Shabbat candles; They lit menorahs on Hanukkah; They read the Megillah on Purim and the Haggadah on Passover; They shared best recipes of delicious Chicken soup and other Jewish favorite dishes. I close my eyes and can see it all.
In my role as a President of our temple community I want to ensure that Temple Rodeph Torah will mean a whole world to all of us. The chain of generations- L’Dor VaDor – cannot be broken. We must listen to our hearts and take action.
I ask you to be my partners in ensuring Jewish continuity in our community, so that I could see my kids, Zohar and Nim with their children telling Jewish tales and experiencing reform Judaism in the most delightful and meaningful way… and so could you.
With your partnership, we can do it. When you choose to show up, we all benefit. Showing up can manifest in various ways: physically, spiritually, monetarily and emotionally. When you play a part in the High Holiday Appeal, you grant us the possibility to make it all happen. Be as generous as you can.
Join with your family as we create Jewish memories to be cherished at this year’s events: Let’s celebrate Holidays together. Let’s gather and laugh at fundraising events, not only raising needed funds, but also enhancing our connection to each other.
Look for our digital newsletter, our website, and our weekly emails and mailed programs. When you recognize what happens at TRT, you engage as a partner in continuing to build our treasured temple Rodeph Torah community.
Your contributions are a way to honor your Jewish background and fortify a Jewish future. And no contribution is too small. Monetarily, you can write a check, include TRT in your life insurance policy, add us to your will, or all the above. Information is available in your HH bags. If you haven’t done so, consider taking action now. We deeply appreciate your continued support and thank you in advance. Every dollar you contribute will be wisely used to help preserve our community- for now and for generations to come.
At this time of transition for our congregation, I invite you all to join me at President’s Circle meetings, a place where you can share concerns, hopes, and dreams for our future. We will meet in small groups for more intimate conversations. Invitations are being mailed out a group at a time, and I hope that you will all join me.
As a community, I know we will ensure many generations of Jewish Continuity. Let’s thrive together!
I’m so excited to welcome the Hebrew New Year of 5780 with you, my temple family.
May it be a happy and healthy year of many accomplishments for all.