The President’s Blog

Spring has officially arrived in Washington, D.C. It is a season marked by renewal, rebirth, color, and warmth. It is also graduation season. Graduation, whether from preschool, grade school, high school, college, or beyond, presents an opportunity for children and young adults to reflect on their achievements and set goals for the future. 

During May, some of Washington Hebrew Congregation’s youngest and oldest children will cross important thresholds. The Early Childhood Centers’ pre-kindergartners will celebrate with song the completion of the first step of their educational journeys at the congregational Shabbat service on Friday, May 12. Then on Sunday, May 21, dozens of high school students who make up the Confirmation Class will affirm their commitment to Jewish values during a moving Confirmation Service they not only created but will also lead. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend both of these meaningful services.

Inspired by the opportunities that lie ahead for these young people, many of us find ourselves reflecting on our own lives, which is something we also do on the High Holy Days each year through prayer, readings, and quiet contemplation. We consider the progress we have made toward goals we have set for ourselves throughout the years and ask are we who we want to be and, more importantly, are we the best version of ourselves that we can be? I suggest that springtime is a natural time of year to reconsider the goals we have set for and promises we have made to ourselves, whether those goals and promises were made last Rosh Hashanah or when we were graduates — even if that graduation took place years ago. So, if you find that you need to recommit to your goals, Washington Hebrew Congregation can provide just the inspiration. 

If one of your goals was to spend more time with family, bring everyone to WHC’s Shabbat Under the Stars services this summer at Temple and the Julia Bindeman Suburban Center. These six Friday evening services (three at each location) are more relaxed and casual than traditional Shabbat services and are ideal for intergenerational worship.

If one of your goals was to learn about and engage in tikkun olam, Washington Hebrew Congregation offers several opportunities in the coming months to do just that. If you have been moved by a desire to assist refugees who have fled Syria and other troubled areas of the world, I direct you to Rabbi Lustig’s description on page five of the May WHC Journal of ways in which you can participate with your Congregation in these activities.  If you desire to better understand the plight of undocumented immigrants and learn about opportunities to get involved in efforts to protect their rights, please join us for “Supporting Refugees and Providing Sanctuary,” a moderated discussion hosted by WHC on Wednesday, May 10. Additionally, throughout the summer, the WHC Hunger Project will continue to package meals. You can sign up to join them on July 23 or August 20 and help bring an end to hunger in our community

If one of your goals was to deepen your connection to Israel, then join us on Wednesday, June 7 for the D.C. premiere of In Our Hands: The Battle for Jerusalem, a docudrama that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War.  This screening presents a special opportunity to learn more about the IDF soldiers who risked everything to save their homeland.

On a more personal note, May is the last month of the first year of my term as President of this Congregation. It is a year that has been rewarding, challenging, and very busy. During the coming weeks, I encourage you to reach out and let me know about your experiences this year as a Temple member. I would like to know what has been successful for you and ways you believe the Congregation could serve you better. These conversations will help me to assess how I have performed and provide me an opportunity to make improvements for next year.

I would also like you to mark your calendars and join me at Temple for the Annual Meeting of Washington Hebrew Congregation on Monday, June 5. At this meeting, we will assess accomplishments, identify goals for next year, and elect the slate of Temple members who will join the Board of Directors in service to Washington Hebrew Congregation. In addition, we will take the opportunity to recognize certain Temple members whose volunteer work has earned them Avodah Honors awards.

I hope each of you takes the time to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of this time of year — and to reflect and recommit yourselves to the values and principles of Reform Judaism.  As always, I look forward to seeing you this month and throughout the summer at the services and programs that make Washington Hebrew Congregation unique.