As members of Washington Hebrew Congregation, we are entitled to so many benefits. We receive tickets to High Holy Day Services, enroll our children in Religious School, and have WHC clergy officiate at life cycle events.
According to the 2015-2016 Annual Report, many of us are indeed enjoying these benefits: total attendance for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services was nearly 17,000; our Religious School had almost 900 of our children enrolled; and our clergy officiated at 102 B’nei Mitzvah, 32 weddings, and 25 baby namings for us. Washington Hebrew Congregation is also the place we gather for annual social justice opportunities including Mitzvah Day, MLK Shabbat and Day of Service, and Sunday Stuffing; and to learn at Amram Scholar Series lectures and in WHC Academy classes. Add-in the many special events that take place each year and ongoing opportunities to engage socially, and you can easily fill your calendar. No one can take advantage of everything, but it is important to so many of us that WHC offers these opportunities and to know they are available to us just because we are members of this historic Congregation.
What may be less familiar to you, however, are some of the membership benefits that are available on an ad hoc basis if you seek them. A prime example is the personal pastoral care our clergy provide. All of our clergy are trained to assist congregants with life issues. It often starts with a phone call, but personal visits at home or in the hospital, meetings at Temple, and discussions can follow. Our clergy can empathize, direct you to services available in the community, and, of course, share insights and advice from a Reform Jewish perspective. All of which may provide comfort and direction at a time of need.
As Reform Jews, we are often reminded of the responsibility we have to take care of others in our community who are in need. Whether you’ve prepared meals or sorted donated clothing, you know how good it feels to “do good” with your WHC community. Did you know that WHC membership also offers numerous, wonderful tikkun olam opportunities where you can engage directly with those you help? A few examples include serving on the Caring Committee, where you can connect with members who are home bound, write notes of condolence or congratulations or simply provide a ride to services for your fellow congregant who is a neighbor. You can also read to the children who attend D.C.’s Abram Simon Elementary School; mentor young mothers who are learning to live an independent life with their babies as residents of WHC’s Carrie Simon House; use your professional expertise to assist nonprofit organizations as part of our Minds Matter committee; and more.
WHC membership, of course, also affords you the opportunity to join with other congregants and share social experiences as part of one community. These activities include participating in one of our many auxiliary groups; joining WHC’s investment club, Fistful of Shekels; and traveling to Israel on a trip guided by our clergy.
When you consider all of these “lesser known” benefits of Temple membership along with the many obvious reasons we affiliate, it is hard to overstate the value that Washington Hebrew Congregation offers its members. I encourage you to take advantage of as much as you can, and if there is any way I can help you enhance your enjoyment of and the benefit you derive from your membership, please let me know.
Finally, in addition to experiencing all that WHC offers you today, you can have a voice in how we shape our future. If you weren’t able to attend the January “Visioning” workshop, please join us at Temple on Tuesday, March 7 from 7:00 – 9:00 to participate in the second workshop. We are seeking everyone’s opinion. Whether you have been a member for 5 months or 5 generations; whether you’ve been an active leader or minimally engaged, your opinion is so valuable to us. You can find more information and sign up online at whctemple.org/Visioning.