The President’s Blog

Over the years, Debbie and I have had the joy of planning three weddings, six B’nei Mitzvah, and countless birthday parties, dinner parties, and other events, including having the honor of chairing a charity fundraiser that attracted about 1,500 attendees. Each event, although wonderful celebrations, involved countless hours of planning and focusing on the details in order to ensure that those who attended had a meaningful and enjoyable experience. I am sure you can relate.

I bring this up at this time of year in anticipation of the High Holy Days, which are just around the corner. With multiple services going on simultaneously and up to 4,000 worshippers in the building at any given time, preparing for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur requires vision, attention to detail, and excellent communication. The staff, under the direction of Executive Director Steve Jacober, have been working through a checklist that is more than six pages long – and growing!

Every staff member is involved. They have shared information about all of our services and are in the process of distributing 31,000 tickets to members and guests. They are organizing offsite parking with safe and seamless transportation to and from Temple. They will provide babysitting for families with young children, and ensure that services will be accessible to all. They are also hard at work to make sure the building is beautiful and welcoming to all who come through the doors – sprucing up Kaufmann Sanctuary and Kreeger Lobby; tending the grounds and gardens; checking lights, sound, and HVAC systems; polishing silver, and examining every Torah.

As you can imagine, our clergy have been working hard as well. Frankly, as soon as the High Holy Days end one year, they start to consider the next. Our rabbis and cantors have met throughout the year to balance a tradition, which has uplifted and comforted Jews for thousands of years, with a worship experience that is meaningful for our Congregation today. Of course, each rabbi is focused on the message that they will share with us during the High Holy Days. It always fascinates me what event in a rabbi’s life – or in the world at large – becomes the spark for a High Holy Day sermon.

Even the teachers at our Religious School and ECCs are involved. When school begins, they will help 1,000 students – from toddlers to high schoolers – prepare for a High Holy Day experience that is special and meaningful. As we all know, an inspiring teacher can trigger a lifelong love of Judaism. How lucky we are to be blessed with so many such teachers.

When the High Holy Days finally arrive on Sunday, October 2, nearly 50 people will work at every service to serve all who come to worship while maintaining the sanctity of the day. I will be one of those 50 – worshipping with you at multiple services, greeting you from the bimah, and wishing you a Shanah Tovah at our first ever Rosh Hashanah Community Oneg and “Meet WHC” Fair. This new initiative will be held on Monday, October 3 in Edlavitch Hall from 1:15 – 2:15 pm. Enjoy refreshments; learn how you can get involved in auxiliaries, committees, through events and programs; and reconnect with WHC friends.

In case you are interested in a “warm up” to the High Holy Days, this year our clergy have introduced a Spiritual Boot Camp to be held on September 17. You will find more information about this program on page seven.

Finally, I want to thank all of our talented staff who have been the moving force behind the new look and feel of our Journal. As I have mentioned before, it is my strong belief that communication is the foundation of our relationships, and anything we can do to increase the quality of our communication receives my whole-hearted support.

I wish each of you a wonderful end to 5776 and look forward to worshiping together during the High Holy Days to bring in an exceptional 5777 filled with joy, meaning and fulfillment.

David M. Astrove

(202) 895-6301