CRS’s 2020 Roundup

CRS 2020 Roundup

CRS 2020 Roundup—Together, Even While Apart

“Our synagogue is so much more than bricks and mortar, it’s a lot of love.”

Peter Ehrenberg, President of the CRS Board

Was 2020 the worst year ever? It was one strange and extraordinary year! But living through a pandemic did not diminish our faith in ourselves nor our beloved shul.  

Although 2020 may have been a dumpster fire of a year, our attempts to extinguish this calamity include these moments listed here in our First-Annual CRS Roundup.



No Hate. No Fear.

January 5, 2020

CRS and RSS joined the Solidarity March against anti-Semitism going across the Brooklyn Bridge.

January 7, 2020

Jonathan Aaron Weitzman was born.

January 21–March 11, 2020

We voted in the World Zionist Congress Elections for a large Reform Jewish presence in Israel and the US.


February 1, 2020

Inspiring Women of the Congregation Luncheon honored Women in Science.

February 22, 2020

Our 10th graders returned from a phenomenal confirmation trip to Berlin, Germany led by Rabbi Greg Weitzman! VIEW PAGE >

February 28–29, 2020

Winter Shabbaton with Cantor Evan Kent who presented his entertaining one-man show, Shards.

Shireinu’s 10th Anniversary

February 7, 2020

10th Anniversary Shireinu Erev Shabbat Service Celebration, a model of accessible worship services.


A Virtual Congregation Begins!

March 12, 2020
  • Beginning with Friday’s Erev Shabbat service, all services would be live streamed on our website and Facebook page.
  • Religious School went into distance learning.
  • RSS shifted to distance learning.

March 14, 2020

Havdalah at Home debuted with Rabbi Karol and family at 7:00 PM (later changed to 7:05 PM to accommodate the daily cheer for essential workers).

30 with the Clergy debuts with 30-minute offerings daily with our CRS clergy.

March 19, 2020

Washing Your Hands: A Jewish Thing! First COVID blog post.


April 3, 2020

Erev Shabbat Service celebrates 50 Years of Rodeph Sholom School.

April 7, 2020

Coffee with the Caring Community: Congregants found companionship and comfort over coffee and conversation in this new weekly program.

April 15, 2020

Passover Yizkor Service with Rabbis Levine and Karol and Cantor Garfein. Congregants shared their reflections on mourning.

April 23, 2020

For Yom HaShoah, Evie Blaikie recounts her survival during the Holocaust as a hidden child. Presented by our Religious School.

April 28, 2020

Commemorating Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day. RSS parents, Avi Shalem and Daniel Aminetzah, and former CRS Shinshinit, Shirly Kaplansky shared their moving stories. WATCH >


April 8–15, 2020

Our first virtual Seder with Rabbi Spratt and Cantor De Lowe. With the Haggadah on our screens, we experienced the Seder together.

April 29, 2020

Religious School Youth: Yom Ha’atzmaut Escape Room Challenge: For their first virtual endeavor, students mastered their mission to help David Ben Gurion and his time-traveling friend create the state of Israel!


May 6, 2020

Chazzanut and Healing: Cantor Don Gurney of Wilshire Blvd. Temple in LA and past CRS cantor spoke with Cantor Rebecca Garfein.

May 8, 2020

Erev Shabbat Service celebrated our High School Seniors.

Chamber Music

May 30, 2020

Chamber Music at CRS’s Havdalah and Concert was our first virtual concert and was dedicated to the memory of Cantor Biran.


May 11, 2020

Farewell to Cantor Toby Glaser after 3 years at CRS as our Cantorial Intern. WATCH >

May 29, 2020

MAY 29: Shavuot Family Yizkor Service featured congregant reflections. Sharing memories of love and loss were Danny Karpf, Lisa Timmel, and Gia Machlin.


June 12, 2020

Erev Shabbat Service celebrated our High School Seniors. RSS’s 2020 Graduation Class ceremony WATCH >
June 12, 2020

Erev Shabbat Pride Shabbat Service: We honored our LGBTQIA+ community with Eliana Shira Rubin who shared her personal story and reflections with Rabbi Ben Spratt.

June 23, 2020

CRS Game Night: Rodeph Sholom Jeopardy was a special CRS edition of our favorite quiz show.

Elevating Gratitude

June 19, 2020

Erev Shabbat Service: Elevating Gratitude. We celebrated the conclusion of our L’Dor V’Dor Capital Campaign together as a community with our clergy. Everyone joined in the blessings over the candles, wine, and challah. We brought an object that symbolizes something we are grateful for. And we all wore white to welcome Shabbat and infuse our service with a little camp spirit! WATCH >

June 25, 2020

The 178th Annual Meeting of the Congregation went virtual with the election of Trustees and approval of the 2020–21 budget. WATCH >


July 1, 2020

Holy Cow! Jewish Cooking with a Southern Twist: We had an amazing behind the scenes tour of Memphis’ premier Kosher restaurant. Rabbi Weitzman dished about Southern Kosher food with our very own Sophie Ostrow, live from her family’s restaurant in Tennessee. We all drooled over the Brisket fries. Oy! WATCH >

CRS Reads

July 3, 2020

This summer during Elul, we launched a congregation-wide book club on racial justice with online discussions with fellow congregants, clergy, and staff. RESOURCES >


August 5 & 19, 2020

Do the Right Thing Film Exploration. Rabbi Karol presented a film analysis and held a discussion about the ongoing relevance of Spike Lee’s 1989 masterpiece. WATCH >

August 13, 2020

New Moon Rising concert with Chava Mirel, Deborah Sacks Mintz, and Elana Arian, three dynamic voices in Jewish music performing a rare concert.

August 20, 2020

A “Year” of Living in Quarantine: Lessons (and Humor) from a Time of Crisis. A.J. Jacobs talked with Rabbi Weitzman and lots of laughing ensued! WATCH >

August 31, 2020

Faith Leaders on Race: A Community Conversation: Rabbi Spratt joined moderator and congregant Lucy Lang (candidate for Manhattan DA), Rev. Dr. Malcolm J. Byrd (Mother A.M.E. Zion Church), Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson (Auburn Seminary), and Hussein Rashid, PhD (UTS) speaking about how we can make a meaningful difference in fighting racism. WATCH >

Ark Moments

August 21–September 18

Ark Moments during the month of Elul was the first time congregants were able to come into the Sanctuary since March and have a private moment of reflection in front of the open ark in the Main Sanctuary.


September 8, 2020

New Wines for a New Year: Rabbi Weitzman hosted a conversation between the Kishor Winery’s winemaker (sitting in his backyard in Israel!) and CRS member Arie Hochberg of Israeli Wine Direct. A great way to start the New Year! Presented by CRS Brotherhood. WATCH >

September 15, 2020

Sept 15: Religious School 3rd–6th Grade: Students created biography posters to highlight their goals and ways that they hope to grow this year.

High Holy Days 5781

September 18–20 & 27–28, 2020


October 2, 2020

Religious School: Culinary Arts Sukkot Workshop

October 4, 2020

Sholom Sprouts Virtual Sukkot Scavenger Hunt! The Sprouts explored the themes of gratitude and welcoming guests while hunting for everything they needed to build a tabletop sukkah.

October 6, 2020

Rabbi Weitzman hosted Knishes, Kugel, and Conversation featuring Noshes By Sherri. Sherri and Michael made their special noodle kugel. More drooling ensued.

October 9, 2020

Erev Shabbat/Simchat Torah Service. We welcomed Aliza Rivka, a Kohenet Hebrew Priestess and Dance/Movement therapist from Costa Rica, who showed us her own Torah of movement and prayer. Then after the service, she led us in lively movement and dance. WATCH >

October 20, 2020

Rodeph Sholom Teens: Gotham BBYO Est. 2020! Our BBYO Chapter really took off this year, leading the Manhattan region in membership growth! Due to an incredible teen board, we are officially chartered! WATCH >

October 20, 2020

Oct 20: Exploiting Your Family History for Fun and Profit with Alina Adams. This was one fun conversation with a fun and enlightening author!

WSCAH Harvest Benefit Dinner

October 20, 2020

Rabbi Levine was the Special Main Event Speaker for West Side Campaign Against Hunger’s virtual Harvest Benefit Dinner.

October 23, 2020

The debut of our new short pre-service and post-service Schmoozes in our virtual community room, the Schmooze Space hosted by fellow congregants.

October 23, 2020

Erev Shabbat Service: Five B’nai Mitzvah lit the candles and chanted Kiddush.

October 28, 2020

Jews and American Politics: Implications for This Crucial Election: A thoughtful pre-Election teaching with Rabbi Levine.


November 6, 2020

Together in Feelings: A much needed post-Election processing with our clergy.

Forward, Together

November 19, 2020

Forward Together: Rabbi Levine led an educational and eye-opening post-Election analysis with Michael S. Schmidt, Washington Correspondent and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Congressional Editor for The New York Times.

November 20, 2020

Meyer Nathans Service Award honored Jane Dystel.

November 11, 2020

At 11:11 am, Cantor Garfein was wed to Alexander Hatzidiakos.

November 17, 2020

Family B’nai Mitzvah Program: B’nai Mitzvah families joined together on Zoom to choose dates in 2024 as clergy offered them the priestly blessing.

November 21, 2020

With a Grateful Heart: Honoring our Freedom Through Music: Chamber Music at Rodeph Sholom presented a special concert of classical and modern chamber music celebrating our freedom. With Artistic Director Eliot Bailen (cello), Cantor Garfein, Susan Rotholz (flute), J. David Williams (piano), and folk-rock trio BAILEN. WATCH >

November 24, 2020

Rodeph Sholom Teens: The Mitzvah Team Leaders: Perspectives for Change! Our Social Action Teen Community kicked off their first major initiative on Instagram— education for underprivileged youth. Go to @perspectivesforchange


Chanukah 2020/5781

December 10, 2020

Night 1: “Raise Up The Menorah” with Cantor Garfein. Zoom candle lighting and the premier of Children’s Choir Eliot Bailen song.

December 11, 2020

Night 2: Erev Shabbat Service with Consecration

December 11, 2020

Night 2: Zoom candle-lighting together and Comedy Night!

December 12, 2020

Sprouts Singin’ Swingin’ Shabbat celebrates Chanukah!

December 14, 2020

Night 5: Rabbi Levine The “Miracle” of Chanukah

December 16, 2020

Night 7: Chanukah Jeopardy: CRS Special Edition

December 17, 2020

Night 8: Chopped with Rabbis Spratt and Weitzman

December 3, 2020

Religious School 3rd-6th Gr: Learning about gratitude (hakarat hatov) and how blessings offer us a way to express gratitude daily, students used different media to express their gratitude.

December 8, 2020

Sholom Sprouts: Learning Together completes its fall semester with a total of 57 families enrolled throughout 2020.