Tikvat Israel Congregation

A Friendly, Participatory, Egalitarian Conservative Synagogue in Rockville, MD

Recent Posts

  • On Shabbat Vayera we will honor our members who have served in the armed services of all nations. If you are a veteran and plan to attend services that day, please let Rabbi Israel know. If you would like to help sponsor this week’s Kiddush in honor of our veterans please click the button below. Donate

  • As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, TI’s Program Committee is planning more activities, many with a focus on Jewish holidays for the 2022-23 program year. Holiday Programming Following a joyous High Holiday season, Tikvat Israel will kick off Chanukkah with our second annual Chanukkah in the Hoods running from Dec. 18 through Dec. 23. Chanukkah in the Hoods features a travelling Chanukiah with guest lighters (including Rabbi Israel) set up at the homes of TI congregants in various neighborhoods. All are welcome to these public lightings, accompanied by delicious snacks and singing of Chanukkah songs. As a special treat, TI is hoping to schedule a lighting in a prominent spot in Rockville such as Pike & Rose or Town Center. Stay tuned for more details. Chanukkah celebrations will continue with TI’s annual Latke and Lights hosted at TI by Cantor Helzner on Dec. 20 at 5:15 p.m. The event will be open to all and feature activities that promise to be fun for young and old alike. To close out Chanukkah, TI will host a Family Fun Day on Dec. 25. Check B’kesher for more details. Continuing with TI’s holiday-focused programming, robust Shabbat experiences are being planned. Details will be published in B’kesher on the following programs: Quarterly Shabbat dinners for congregants. If you had fun at the Shabbat in the Sukkah dinner on Oct. 14, sign up for additional dinners throughout the winter and spring.Torah study on most Shabbats.PJ Havdalah, hosted by the ECC, open to the entire congregation throughout the fall and winter (pajamas optional for adults). Social Action Activities Tikvat Israel will continue its vigorous support of the broader community by staging several Social Action activities including: A Red Cross blood drive on Nov. 9.Stepping Stones food deliveries to the TI parking lot (intended for the homeless shelter) on Nov. 9.Martin Luther King Jr. Day volunteer activities on Jan. 16. Cultural Programming Finally, if you are still looking for something to do, consider attending various cultural activities including: Anne Kaiser’s annual preview of the upcoming state legislative session in Annapolis. A member of the state legislature and a congregant, Kaiser will share her thoughts about what is likely to be one of the most exceptional state legislative sessions in years as issues such as voting rights, criminal justice reform, paid leave expansion and abortion rights might be under consideration. Join us for coffee and doughnuts and Anne’s talk at 10 a.m. on Dec. 4.The Israeli Film Festival at Tikvat Israel. TI will once again partner with the Israeli Embassy to screen Israel’s best contribution to the world of film. Join us for the screening and post-film discussion on Jan. 21 and 28 (snow date, Feb. 4). Keep an eye on B’kesher for details.Tikvat Israel U. On Feb. 26, TI will host this popular event in person for the first time in three years. Tikvat Israel U features TED-Talk style presentations by experts among TI’s own congregants. If you have something to contribute, contact Sally Kram at sallykram939@gmail.com to volunteer your talents. Volunteer Organizers We always are looking for program planners. If you want to contribute your ideas and energy, contact Sally Kram.

  • In Parsha Noah, G-d speaks to Noah and directs him to build an ark in preparation for a big flood that will destroy all life except that which is on the ark. Genesis 14-16 provide specific instructions for the Ark’s design, dimensions and building materials. Nothing is written about Ark maintenance, but it only needed to last 40 days. In Parsha Trumah, G-d lays out detailed specifications for the construction of the Tabernacle that will contain the Holy Tablets during the 40 years in the desert. The haftorah for that parsha (1 Kings) is again a detailed description of the Temple that Solomon will build. That Temple is intended to last throughout time. Where is the parsha that focuses on how the Temple edifice is to be maintained? How ought the Temple address a necessary roof replacement, renovation of various components, shoring up walls and even upgrading lighting, cooling and heating systems (if such existed). How would contributions for these needs be solicited and gathered? The members of Tikvat Israel Congregation currently face the need to maintain our building. A report commissioned by the shul’s board of directors that was completed in February assessed the physical structure and its systems and recommends a 10-year plan of renovation and replacement. The plan carries a price tag exceeding $500,000 in 2022 dollars. With inflation, a practical goal is $600,000. Tikvat Israel’s Capital Campaign was launched following the High Holidays. The campaign’s co-chairs, Howard Wilchins and Carol Chelemer, have reached out to individual members who have repeatedly demonstrated their desire and ability to be major donors. This effort is continuing , but to date, pledges to be paid over three years (2023-2025) have been made by four individuals totaling about $77,000. This is considered Phase 1. During November and December, further outreach, both in person and via telephone or Zoom, will take place. We believe it is important to contact every member and for every member to participate to the extent they can (and then perhaps a bit more) because Tikvat Israel is our home. Please contact Carol or Howard directly if you would like to discuss the campaign either by phone or in person.

  • Tikvat Israel’s Membership Committee invites the entire congregation to a Member Coffee Klatsch on Sunday, November 6 at 10:00 AM (immediately following morning minyan). Meet our newest TI members and visit with old friends while enjoying coffee, pastry, and good conversation. Children are welcome. Free to attend. RSVPs appreciated by November 2. RSVP

  • Dear Friends, Today we enter into month of MarCheshvan, the only month in the Hebrew calendar which has no special characteristics. This is a great time to carry the spirit of the fall holidays into the year and begin a new course of Jewish learning. There are many opportunities for you to study Jewish text and to think about how Jewish tradition can impact and guide your life. ScholarStream: We are pleased to provide our members an opportunity to study with scholars from across the Conservative Movement at no cost to you. ScholarStream presents a series of lectures tied together by a common theme; however, each lecture is meant to “stand alone” so you can participate in the ones that interest you most. The first lecture of Series 2 begins October 26! Register on the ScholarStream registration page and enter the discount code TikvatIsrael5783 in the box labeled “event fee.”Friday Morning Mishnah Study: We are studying Mishnah Baba Kama, the 2nd Century compilation of Jewish law focused on torts. We find remarkable parallels and interesting differences to the way our society approaches these issues. To participate, join us on the minyan zoom link at 8:45 – 10:00 on Friday mornings. Newcomers and periodic “drop-ins” are always welcome.New Classes: Our survey last year indicated that there is great interest in more learning opportunities in and around Tikvat Israel, including Torah study on Shabbat. In addition, I hope to offer two new classes in the coming weeks – one to take place at Leisure World and one aimed for people who work during the day. We are also interested in facilitating members who would like to teach short classes (1-5 sessions) in-person or online (or both). If you are interested in participating or teaching, please click here to fill out a BRIEF survey. Wishing you a Chodesh tov – a good new month! Rabbi Marc Israel

Live, Loud and in Color … But from an Empty Shul

By Jay P. Goldman, Tikvat Israel Bulletin Editor

The original setup had the rabbi’s livestreaming laptop perched on the Torah reading table. It’s since been moved to a separate location. (Photo by Sam Freedenberg)

When Cantor Helzner stepped to the bima precisely at 10 a.m. on May 9 and offered a brief nigun, she ushered in the livestreaming era for religious services at Tikvat Israel.

The morning service that day marked the first Shabbat morning service in the sanctuary since the first weekend in March, a string of eight “dark” Shabbats for the congregation owing to the building’s shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now services emanate weekly from Rabbi Marc Israel’s laptop perched atop a standing desk placed next to the Torah reading table in a sanctuary populated solely by the two clergy members. The broadcasting software on his computer has recorded about 70 unique log-ins each Shabbat morning during the first month of livestreamed services.

A technology breakdown on June 6 prevented transmission, but the snafu didn’t deter the two clergy. The cantor soldiered on with davening through Shacharit, with the rabbireading Torah and haftorah and reciting musaf to himself from a pew. “I also recited the names of those whose yahrzeit we observed,” the rabbi reported afterward.

Imminently, Rabbi Israel’s laptop is expected to be retired from Shabbat duty in favor of special equipment that will be installed permanently in the sanctuary by fall so that livestreaming of religious services (and perhaps congregational meetings) will be accessible in the future to those unable to physically attend. The broadcast camera from PTZ Optics is used commonly in houses of worship.

Both the rabbi and cantor have marked the special nature of leading a remote congregation in observance. A few minutes into the first livestreamed Shabbat service, the cantor related the circumstances of daughter Jessica, her husband and 2-year-old granddaughter needing to relocate to her home temporarily after a major storm felled a tree onto part of their own home. Following two months of segregated existence during the pandemic, “all of us were reunited,” a joyous turn for all. Similarly, she added, congregants were now reconnected, albeit electronically, after many weeks apart.

Cantor Helzner’s message was this: “Blessings and curses can come together at the same time.”

When Rabbi Israel first moved into view on the screen at his first livestreamed service, he shared this observation about his personal advantage: “Davening alone with the cantor is like a house concert, a real privilege for me.”