The President’s Blog

Tikkun Olam…Repairing the World. We hear this phrase often at Washington Hebrew Congregation, and it is not surprising. The value of committing to social action and the pursuit of social justice are the bedrock of the connection many of us have to Reform Judaism. They speak to who we are as a community and people, and I would not be surprised to hear if you have included a commitment to more actively engage in community service and social justice in your 2018 New Year’s resolutions.

One of our members, Amy Yontef-McGrath, is doing just that. In the January issue of the WHC Journal you can read about Amy’s resolution to perform 50 mitzvahs during the year leading up to her milestone birthday.

Every month at Washington Hebrew Congregation, you will find at least one and, very often, several opportunities where you can make a difference and help repair the world. Large scale and small, for every age and interest, if you would like to find a way to engage in tikkun olam, you need to look no further than the WHC calendar.

You can experience one of WHC’s most significant annual social justice events this month when we honor the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This two-part commemoration, coordinated by our wonderful Community Issues/Social Action committee, begins on Friday, January 12 with a community Shabbat dinner and concludes with a day of service on Monday, January 15, when congregants, local college students, our congregational partners, and the community-at-large come to Temple to participate in activities that focus on the needs of our community. You can read more about MLK Shabbat on page five and MLK Day of Service on page seven of the January issue of the WHC Journal.

It has been a couple of months since I have mentioned the incredible work happening with our Good Neighbors Initiative. This program, supported by the WHC Tikkun Olam Values (TOV) Fund, will enable the WHC community to help a newly arrived refugee family rebuild their lives in our area. Good Neighbors co-chairs Beth Dubin and Melissa Schwartz, along with WHC’s Director of Programs and TOV Naomi Abelson Gohn, have established five lay-led teams of volunteers who are meeting and planning now so that when we are matched with a family, we can mobilize quickly. The teams — Welcome & Community Guide, Finance & Family Budget, Housing & Furnishing, Food & Clothing, and Communications & Development —have about 100 volunteers registered, but more are welcome and will be needed. You can learn about the effort and sign up to join a team at

MLK Weekend, the Good Neighbor Initiative, and other WHC tikkun olam opportunities are meaningful ways to satisfy our need for spiritual fulfillment. By joining together, we can fulfill our core value of Reform Judaism by making our world a better place. I look forward to participating with you and sharing our pride in this wonderful pursuit. As it is with so many things in life, showing up is 90% of the journey; the rest will take care of itself.