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This month, several of our clergy, senior staff, Board members, and I will attend the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Biennial conference in Boston. Held every other year, the Biennial brings 5,000 Reform Jews from across North America together under one roof to explore connections, share experiences, learn, pray, and shape the future of the Reform Movement. More than anything, it is an extraordinary reminder that we are part of a much larger community of Reform Jews.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the URJ, shared that the upcoming Biennial will present the boldest, most significant ways to strengthen our congregations, work for social justice, engage our youth, experience Jewish learning, and open even more pathways into Jewish life. It’s a most-inspiring week, the highlight of which is always the Friday night service where all 5,000 attendees gather in one room … a very large room … to celebrate Shabbat.
On a personal note, I have been nominated to serve a four-year term as a member of the URJ North American Board of Trustees. My term will begin upon election, which takes place on the first day of the Biennial. This is an honor that has been given to other WHC Presidents, and I will be joining past presidents Lauren Racoosin and Peter Winik who currently serve on the URJ Board. I look forward to this new level of involvement with the Reform Movement in the years to come.
Each month in my column, I try to bring attention to some WHC events that I believe could be of interest to you. This month, the Temple’s calendar features two very different programs about texts originally written in Yiddish. On Sunday, December 3, the Amram Scholar Series will welcome Eddy Portnoy. His recently published book, Bad Rabbi and other Strange but True Stories from the Yiddish Press, highlights humorous oddities he discovered while researching early 20th-century Yiddish language newspapers. Later that week, we will celebrate Jewish Book Month with a special Shabbat dinner following services on Friday, December 8. At this dinner, award-winning translators Ellen Cassedy and Yermiyahu Ahron Taub will discuss Yiddish writer Blume Lempel (1907-1999), whose stories often addressed taboo topics of her day. You can learn more about both of these events on page 11 of the WHC Journal.
December also provides a number of ways for us to celebrate Hanukkah together. Families with young children and grandchildren can enjoy a fun concert with singer Billy Jonas on Saturday, December 2 at the Julia Bindeman Suburban Center. And on Friday, December 15, WHC’s intergenerational Shabbat Hanukkah service and oneg will be followed by events designed to provide something for everyone — from Maccabee training for families and children to an adult study session with Rabbi Lustig and Miles Roger, Assistant Director of Religious Education. Details about all of WHC’s different Hanukkah celebrations can be found on pages 9 and 10 of the Journal.
I also want to use my December column to ask you to please include Washington Hebrew Congregation in your year-end giving. There are so many ways in which WHC, our clergy, educators, professionals, and others enrich our lives throughout the year. A contribution to Washington Hebrew Congregation’s Yad B’Yad Annual Fund is a wonderful way to show your gratitude. I thank you in advance for doing so.
Finally, I want to wish you and your families a 2018 filled with joy, health, community, satisfaction, and peace.
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