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Life Cycle Events

לכל זמן ועת לכל חפץ מתחת לשמים

A season is set for everything, a time for every experience under heaven.

(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Life Cycle Events

Washington Hebrew Congregation is honored to guide, celebrate, and support our members at every stage of their lives. Whether you are welcoming a new member of your family, accompanying children on their journey through Jewish education, marking their passage to adulthood, exploring the possibility of becoming Jewish, facing illness and end-of-life issues, or celebrating other religious and secular milestones, our clergy and staff ensure that each family is guided through a meaningful engagement with Jewish tradition and surrounded by a caring community.

Birth

You have a new baby in your family – mazel tov! Our clergy are delighted to celebrate this blessing with you and help you begin your child’s spiritual journey.

Bris
Bris

Traditionally, a baby boy is welcomed into the covenant of the Jewish people on the eighth day of his life through a brit milah or bris (circumcision) ceremony. The circumcision is performed by a mohel or mohelet (male or female physicians specially certified in ritual circumcision) often joined by WHC's clergy in officiating this sacred moment. If you are expecting or have just had a baby boy, we are happy to help connect you with several well-regarded mohelim in the Washington area.

Baby Naming
Baby Naming

Though there is no prescribed time for a baby naming, it is generally held within the baby's first year, anytime after the eighth day of life. We welcome a daughter into the Jewish covenant with a special ritual that blesses her and gives her a Hebrew name. For parents who choose to have their son circumcised in the hospital, a baby naming is also a meaningful way to begin his Jewish life. Our rabbis will bless and name your child either at Temple during our Friday night or Saturday morning Shabbat services or in a private ceremony held any other day of the week.

Consecration

Consecration marks the beginning of a child's formal Jewish education, regardless of their age of entry. We celebrate our students' entry into Religious School on the occasion of Simchat Torah—the holiday on which we celebrate the Torah.

Our newest children lead the Congregation in song, are blessed by the clergy before the open ark and the Torah, and receive a miniature Torah of their very own to mark this special beginning. They have an opportunity to hear the very end and beginning of the Torah recited by post-B'nei Mitzvah students, and then dance with the Torah as the celebration continues with a festive oneg. We invite all of our new students to participate in this special rite of passage so we may welcome them into our community.

B'nei Mitzvah

Mazel tov to you and your new teenager! We take special pride when our young people embrace Torah as their own and become Bar or Bat Mitzvah at Temple.

About the Service
About the Service

The B'nei Mitzvah service is so spiritually fulfilling. It symbolizes your teenager's transformation from child to adult in the eyes of our faith. When B'nei Mitzvah recite the blessings over the Torah, they are affirming that they are old enough to be responsible for all that is being passed to them - our traditions, rituals, teachings, and culture - and that they will uphold and, in turn, pass all of them to the next generation. This moment is celebrated at Washington Hebrew when a young person reads from the Torah for the first time publicly during Shabbat services on a Saturday morning or evening. The B'nei Mitzvah also lead some of the prayers, read from the Haftarah (the books of the Prophets), and share their thoughts regarding the Torah portion and its connection to our lives through a d'var Torah (words of Torah). This is truly a Shehechiyanu moment! Mazel tov!

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Preparing for the "Big Day"
Preparing for the "Big Day"

B'nei Mitzvah preparation is a gradual process which begins in the second grade when students are first introduced to Hebrew in Religious School. In addition to regular Hebrew and Religious School classes for the students, our curriculum includes family programming, meetings with private tutors, and rehearsals with clergy to ensure your children (and you!) feel prepared and supported. You will receive your child's Bar/Bat Mitzvah date from our Cantor's office three years in advance, which allows plenty of time to plan for this special day. Our students also eagerly embrace our value of tikkun olam (repairing the world), and most complete a Mitzvah Project as a part of their B'nei Mitzvah process.

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A Cause for Celebration
A Cause for Celebration

A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a time to celebrate, and Washington Hebrew Congregation has beautiful facilities both at Temple and the Julia Bindeman Suburban Center at which you can host your celebration.

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B'nei Mitzvah Fees
B'nei Mitzvah Fees

Our B'nei Mitzvah fees cover B'nei Mitzvah programming inside and outside of Religious School, tutoring, materials, and preparation with clergy. 

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Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions

As you embark on the Bar/Bat Mitzvah process with your family, you may find that you have a lot of questions. We're here with answers to alleviate your concerns.

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Marriage

wedding.jpg

You have found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with - mazel tov! Our WHC clergy feel incredibly blessed when they have the opportunity to sign a ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) and stand under a chuppah (wedding canopy) with a loving couple at the moment they exchange rings and enter into the covenant of marriage.

Whether you have a life-long connection with one of our rabbis or are just beginning your connection to Washington Hebrew, the rabbi who marries you will spend time with you in the months leading up to your wedding. With the rabbi you will talk about the strengths each of you is bringing to the marriage and potential obstacles you may face. Opening the lines of communication will help strengthen your union. The rabbi will also explore the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony and its rituals with you, and help you design a meaningful, personal ceremony. We are an inclusive community, and our clergy rejoice in working with Jewish, interfaith, and same-sex couples.

You can celebrate your marriage at Washington Hebrew Congregation, too. Our facilities at Temple and the Julia Bindeman Suburban Center provide a beautiful canvas for which you can create the perfect celebration for your marriage.

End of Life

Our Sages call the mitzvah of mourning chesed shel emet — the truest kindness — because our actions in these painful times show honor and love for the deceased.

As a member of Washington Hebrew Congregation, we are here to support you in your time of need, with guidance and counseling both before and after a loss.

At the End of a Loved One's Life
At the End of a Loved One's Life

Whether the loss of a loved one is anticipated or comes unexpectedly, quite often, family members feel unprepared. Our Guide for Jewish Funeral Practices can provide a deeper understanding of the Jewish approach to life and death, specifically, our customs concerning death, burial rites, and mourning. Our clergy are here to support and guide you and your family.

In the Moments Following a Loved One's Death
In the Moments Following a Loved One's Death

After a loved one passes, please call the Temple before making any arrangements so our clergy can assure their availability to be with you in your time of need. One of our rabbis or cantors will meet with you and your family to help you choose the best way to honor your loved one; can connect you with a Jewish funeral chapel and the Garden of Remembrance (WHC's cemetery in Clarksburg, Maryland); and will officiate at your loved one's funeral, burial, and shiva services. From the rituals and customs of our religion -- preparing for a funeral, sitting shiva, saying kaddish, and observing yahrzeit - to the emotions and grief surrounding a loss, your Temple family and our Caring Committee are here for you.

Unveiling Service
Unveiling Service

The name of this service comes from the act of removing the cloth covering a headstone - unveiling the permanent marker at a loved one's gravesite. Marking the end of the first year of mourning, the Unveiling Service is relatively new in Jewish tradition. It can be led by one of our rabbis or cantors, or you may choose to conduct the service yourself and use our Service of Unveiling with prayers, poems, and Psalms as a guide.

Yizkor
Yizkor

Even after your official period of mourning comes to an end, you may find comfort attending a Yizkor service at Washington Hebrew Congregation. Held four times during the year -- on Yom Kippur and during the festivals of Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot -- the service is an opportunity for our community to come together in prayer, remembrance, and personal reflection.

Condolence List
Condolence List

We come together in prayer and remembrance whenever there is a loss within our community. For those who wish to be notified of recent losses within our Congregation, we are in the process of creating a Condolence List. Joining the email list will enable us to send you information about those who have passed and will give you an opportunity to reach out with support for your fellow congregants.

Join List

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Conversion

Perhaps you grew up in a different faith - or with no faith - but you've been living "Jewishly." Maybe your spouse or partner is Jewish. Maybe Judaism just feels right to you and you'd like to take the next step. Washington Hebrew Congregation warmly welcomes and supports your choice.

Contact our clergy to begin the process. One of our rabbis will personally guide you. The two of you will meet every month for about a year; you will take 12 Jewish Questions: A (Re)Introduction to Adult-Level Judaism; and when you and your rabbi feel the time is right, you will have a conversion ceremony at Temple.

We also warmly welcome and support our interfaith families at Washington Hebrew Congregation. With an active Interfaith Committee, and ongoing programs such as "The Mothers Circle" for non-Jewish women raising Jewish children, you are certain to find an accepting and inclusive community at our Temple.

Celebrations

In addition to the big life cycle events, we also love those "Shehechiyahu moments" — the times when we are thankful for new and special experiences — at Washington Hebrew Congregation.

Let our clergy know when you are celebrating a milestone birthday or anniversary, and we will mark your special occasion with a blessing from our rabbi during Shabbat services.

Facilities

Hosting your life events at Washington Hebrew Congregation is incredibly easy.

Our beautiful spaces at Temple and the Julia Bindeman Suburban Center in Potomac, Maryland can accommodate groups big and small. Our event coordinators will be happy to provide you with information about any of our spaces.

Temple  
Temple

Expanded and renovated over the years, the Temple is nestled in between Rock Creek National Park and the residential neighborhood of McLean Gardens.

Julia Bindeman Suburban Center  
Julia Bindeman Suburban Center

Located on 11.5 acres in Potomac, Maryland, the Julia Bindeman Suburban Center is an ideal location to host your celebration or meeting.

Memorial Park  
Memorial Park

Established in 1873, this historic cemetery has been serving the Temple's members as a final and befitting resting place.

Garden of Remembrance  
Garden of Remembrance

In 2000, Washington Hebrew Congregation was instrumental in establishing the region’s only not-for-profit cemetery open to members of all Jewish congregations as well as those unaffiliated with a congregation.

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