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In June, I completed my first year as President of Washington Hebrew Congregation. It has been a rewarding, challenging, and enjoyable experience.
I find it interesting, however, that the single most frequent question I have been asked is how much time it takes to serve as President of this congregation. Frankly, it does take time, and it is a rare day that goes by without having to do something. It is just as rare, however, for a day to end without my feeling humbled by the relationship that each congregant has with our synagogue, awed by the needs that are addressed each day by our clergy and staff, and amazed by the commitment of my fellow Board members, past and present. As with most every meaningful event in life, nothing worthwhile happens without effort.
At its core, Washington Hebrew Congregation is a community. As a result, I view my role first and foremost to be one that promotes, enhances and celebrates that community. This past year Debbie and I hosted nine monthly Shabbat dinners — eight in our home and one at the Julia Bindeman Suburban Center. They were opportunities to bring congregants together for the sole purpose of creating community. More than 150 people attended one of these dinners last year, and we will begin the monthly series again in September. The schedule is on the Temple’s website, and I encourage everyone to sign up. Whether you are a new member, a long-time member, a current or former leader, or a staff member, I am confident that you will discover unexpected, delightful commonalities with other Temple members, laugh, and feel good that you made this evening the start of your weekend.
The theme of the August WHC Journal is “My Jewish Journey,” and within this issue, you will read reflections some of your fellow congregants have shared about Judaism. In concert with this theme, I have been thinking about the role Judaism and Washington Hebrew Congregation play in my life. In addition to hosting monthly dinners this past year, as President — and a member — of Washington Hebrew Congregation, I have joined many of you at numerous Shabbat services, Amram lectures, Temple dinners, and tikkun olam events. I have also enjoyed getting to know our clergy, staff, and other congregants over breakfasts and lunches. I have presided over Board meetings, participated in committee meetings, and sent and received many emails and phone calls tending to WHC business. Such is the role of the President of the Congregation. Neither burdensome nor intrusive, on the contrary, each interaction with a fellow congregant or staff member and each service, program, and event I attended, was a source of personal meaning and fulfillment. They became a part of who I am as a Jew and a member of Washington Hebrew Congregation.
The Jewish Journeys you will read in the WHC Journal may inspire you to reflect on your own story and how Judaism and all that Washington Hebrew Congregation offers have enriched your life. More than that, however, I hope that they ignite in you a desire to make an extra effort to connect with our community and experience the joys that it can bring to each of us.
I hope the remaining weeks of the summer provide an opportunity for you to relax, recharge, and reflect.
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