What does “Shoreshim” mean and how would you describe Shoreshim?
Shoreshim, which is Hebrew for “Roots”, is a non-affiliated, lay-led, participatory chavurah (group of friends).  We are an inclusive Jewish community, largely centered in Reston, VA, but with members in neighboring communities. Our members include interfaith families, who bring a broad range of religious beliefs to the Shoreshim community.

Shoreshim is a “Shul without walls” – we do not own or intend to own a building – and we do not have the services of a full-time Rabbi. The community succeeds – and keeps its dues low ($325 per adult member per year) –  through the active involvement of its members. We see this involvement as key to creating a rich spiritual and learning environment for both children and adults that helps to build community and does not tax a family’s financial resources. Thus, members plan and lead a number of religious services, and work with outside resources to assist with select services such as the High Holy Day services, some Shabbat services and other celebrations.

How long has Shoreshim been around?  
Shoreshim was founded in 1977, and some founding members are still active members of the Shoreshim community.

How big is Shoreshim?
Our current membership is about 50 families.

How is Shoreshim governed?
Shoreshim is governed by an Executive Board whose members are elected each year at the community’s Annual Meeting. This meeting is usually held in May or June – Shoreshim’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. Board positions include two Co-Presidents, Secretary, Treasurer, Resource Liaison, Facilities Manager, School Liaison, and Webmaster/Member-At-Large. The Board nominates a slate of candidates that is presented to the membership at the Annual Meeting. Nominations can also be made from the floor.


Where does Shoreshim hold its services?
Shoreshim holds services online, in our homes, in local community centers or churches.

Where does Shoreshim hold its High Holy Day services?
Shoreshim’s high holy day services are traditionally held in a large Reston Church.  

What is Shoreshim’s policy for non-member attendance at High Holy Day Services?
It is a Shoreshim tradition that our services are always open to the public free of charge. However, we recognize that some non-member participants would like to make a voluntary contribution at the time of the High Holy Days, and so we place self-addressed envelopes with enclosed contribution cards at the back of the sanctuary for their convenience.

Who plans Shoreshim’s religious services?
Shoreshim members plan the religious services, often with the help of outside professional resources such as Rabbis, Cantors and Judaic scholars.  

A good example is the development of new services for the High Holy Days that was undertaken by two knowledgeable community members with the aid of an advanced rabbinical student who worked with Shoreshim for several years. This effort took place over the course of a year, and new prayer books were printed and available for High Holy Day services.  The committees responsible for holiday services are free to use existing services or to develop new services. As Shoreshim is non-affiliated, there are no firm rules limiting the service approach taken by various committees.

Is food served at the various Shoreshim Shabbat services and what are the rules?
Friday evening Kabbalat Shabbats include a potluck dinner. Shoreshim policy on food to be served at these Shabbats is set by the Shoreshim Board, and is as follows: “Friday night Shabbats will allow both dairy and non-dairy foods, to be presented on separate tables. Non-dairy foods may include chicken and fish, but no pork or pork products (this excludes certain meat pizzas), and no non-kosher seafoods.” 

What activities does Shoreshim offer?
Shoreshim activities include Torah Study, Tzedakah, a Woman’s Group, a book club, a movie club, and life-cycle events (baby namings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and Shiva . Committee members organize, publicize, and collect monies (if necessary) for the events.

Shoreshim has a new Cultural Events Committee that plans five or more activities a year. They may include trips to the theater, interesting museum exhibits in DC, Baltimore, or Richmond, bowling, Happy Hour, a docent-led zoom museum tour of a distant museum…or anything the committee members come up with!

What is Shoreshim’s approach to Tzedakah?
Shoreshim has a deep commitment to communal Tzedakah efforts. We have an active Tzedakah Committee that allocates Tzedakah cash resources that are accumulated during the year via contributions from members, guests at Shoreshim services, and cash distributions arising from Shoreshim volunteer activities.

Shoreshim is also affiliated with Reston Interfaith and a Shoreshim member serves on the Reston Interfaith Board. Members participate in Reston interfaith events and help at the Embry Rucker shelter.

Shoreshim has a great commitment to the Reston Closet and has a member on its board along with a commitment to volunteer to keep this wonderful thrift shop open.

Shoreshim has recently assisted one of our members in founding the Cool Green bag food collection project.  Six times a year, we collect the cool green bags from over 1000 households and distribute those bags to multiple food pantries in and around Reston. 

What is the Shoreshim Retreat?
Each year, Shoreshim organizes a theme-centered weekend retreat where members and families gather to dine together, discuss and learn together, play together and get to know one another better. Retreats are held at a location within an easy driving distance of the DC metropolitan area (typically one to one- and-a-half hours away). Activities are planned for both adults and children.

Does Shoreshim have a Music Committee?
Shoreshim has a volunteer group called the Kolnudnicks that sings at Kol Nidre services. Given the significant number of talented musicians in Shoreshim’s ranks, we always have talented volunteers to help us celebrate.  

How does Shoreshim handle life-cycle events?
As a community, Shoreshim extends support to members that are experiencing life-cycle events such as baby namings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and mourning. In accordance with Shoreshim’s philosophy, these services are highly personalized. For example, Shiva services, planned by the affected family, are regularly held for members suffering the loss of a loved one. Other examples are the diverse and creative approaches our families take to Bar and Bat Mitzvah services.

What kind of adult education opportunities does Shoreshim offer?
Shoreshim offers its own adult education opportunities as well as access to adult education opportunities available at other Jewish communities in the Washington Metropolitan area. Within Shoreshim there is an Adult Education Committee that sets an agenda each year in accord with its members’ interests. Shoreshim has offered courses by scholars on topics such as Jewish history, ethics, and mourning practices. These scholars have included Shoreshim members and outside resources. Shoreshim also has a Torah Study Group that, over many years, has studied the five books of Moses, the writings of the Jewish Prophets, and more contemporary writings about Judaism and Jewish life.

What are the grade levels of the Shoreshim School and when do the classes meet?   
We currently do not have enough children enrolled to host regular classes, but for 40 years we have focused on passing along a sense of Jewish heritage to the next generation. This was one of the compelling reasons Shoreshim was founded in 1977 by a small group of early Restonians. Initial school meetings were held in the living rooms of the founders’ homes. The Shoreshim School grew to offer grade levels kindergarten through 6,and would meet weekly in rented classroom space in Reston, and virtually during the pandemic..

We hope to bring back our innovative program – called the “Shoreshim Culture Club” – in the coming years. We recently were sent an offer from our friends at Beth Emeth that allows Shoreshim members to enroll their children in the BEEC preschool at the same rate they charge their own members.  We are very excited and appreciative of this wonderful offer.


What are the responsibilities of Shoreshim membership?
Shoreshim is a participatory community that relies on its members to lead many of our religious services, manage our administrative tasks, and shape program content. Each adult member is required to serve on at least one committee. Members are encouraged to volunteer to serve as holiday committee chairpersons, and to volunteer for service on the Shoreshim Board. Members are also invited to participate in other community activities such as Torah Study or music where they can enrich the community with their individual skills and insights. 

How do I join the Shoreshim community?
It’s simple! Fill out this online form, and then pay the membership dues.

What are the annual dues?
Current dues are $325 per adult member per year. Special arrangements can be made if a member has financial issues.
To join, just mail the check to Shoreshim – PO Box 2516, Reston, VA 20195.
You can also pay membership dues online, using this link.

How can I find additional information about Shoreshim?
In addition to what can be found on our web site, information about Shoreshim can be obtained by calling (703) 493-1114.  Please leave a message and a Shoreshim Board Member will return your call promptly.

If you would like to contact the New Member Committee directly, we can be reached through an online request form. A member of the committee would be happy to tell you more about our community and answer your questions about Shoreshim.