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The President's Blog

In the 10 months since I was installed as President, it has impressed and heartened me to experience how much our members care about this Congregation.  You care about what we do, when we do it, and how we do all that we do.   About a year ago, we embarked on a new initiative, “WHC 175: Envision Our Future,” to help us establish a direction to focus our efforts to remain a relevant and vital Reform Jewish synagogue.

We have been asking our members and those who are part of the wider WHC community to describe their vision for WHC in 2027. We want to know how they want Washington Hebrew Congregation to look, feel, and act in 10 years when our historic Congregation celebrates its 175th anniversary. To date, we have held four Visioning Workshops, and more than 250 people have participated. 

If you have not yet shared your vision, please reach out to Lindsay Fry Feldman, Director of Member Services, at lfeldman@whctemple.org or 202-895-6321, and let her know that you would like to be included in this incredible undertaking.  If you have participated, I cannot thank you enough and want to ensure you that your input is already making an impact — even before we have boiled down the plethora of suggestions into a cohesive and well-focused vision for our future. 

Some of our participants indicated that their vision for 2027 includes effective, streamlined, and state-of-the-art communication between the Congregation and its members. I want you to know that we have begun an effort to evaluate and update our use of technology as well as WHC’s database software. Our goal is to put an infrastructure in place so WHC can be informed about and communicate with our congregants in the most efficient means possible.  Clear and effective communication is a part of the vision for 2027.

Some of our participants indicated that their vision for 2027 includes enhanced and expanded means for congregants to connect and build relationships with each other, our clergy, and the community. I would like you to know that we have implemented and experimented with programs that are based on creating those relationships and will continue to do so. Current initiatives include “Faith Over Fear” dinners and conversations, expanded auxiliary activities, Post Confirmation, a program which has nearly 30 of our high school juniors and seniors participating, and, frankly, the Shabbat dinners that Debbie and I host each month for any congregant who expresses an interest in attending. Providing increased and enhanced opportunities for congregants to develop relationships is a part of the vision for 2027.

Some of our participants indicated that their vision for 2027 includes meaningful worship experiences that combine the familiar and traditional with the progressive and experimental. I suggest that you need attend only three Shabbat services to see how varied our services are. Those efforts will continue as well.  Incorporating additional meaningful and varied worship experiences is a part of the vision for 2027.

Some of our participants expressed a desire for opportunities where they can join together to make statements in support of issues of the day and take action to enhance the community and world in which we live. I direct you to page six of this issue to read an essay about a flag raising ceremony Washington Hebrew Congregation held 100 years ago when Congress declared war on Germany and began our involvement in World War I. The entire Congregation – ­every man, woman, and child –  attended this event. What a statement that was and how unified and strong the members of our Congregation must have felt that day in 1917.

Imagine how powerful it would be now, in 2017, if we brought all of our 2,400 WHC families – nearly 8,000 individuals – together for one purpose to make a difference. There is just such an opportunity this month – Mitzvah Day, on Sunday, April 30. Participate in Mitzvah Day, and you can join the fight against hunger, bring dignity to the homeless, and bring a smile to seniors and those who are ill. You will find information and details about this year’s Mitzvah Day throughout this issue and online at whctemple.org/MitzvahDay.

We turned out in force in 1917, and we can do it again in 2017. Join us on April 30 and get a taste of what we can be in 2027: 175 years strong, with community and tikkun olam continuing to bring us together and help move us forward into a relevant and vital future.   

Our vision of 2027 is not yet clear, and we need your help to bring it fully into focus.  I look forward to seeing you at future visioning sessions.