Home > WHC > Steve Jacober Reflects on His Time as Executive Director
After 15 years as Executive Director, Steve Jacober retires from Washington Hebrew Congregation at the end of June. He sat down with Senior Communications Manager Ori Hoffer to look back on his accomplishments.
Steve Jacober, Executive Director of Washington Hebrew Congregation. You are coming up on your retirement. And I just wanted to chat and get some final thoughts as you say farewell to us here at Washington Hebrew. So first off, you know, you’ve been here quite a while. 15 years. What’s changed in that time?
I think overall, over the past 15 years of the operational features of our congregation have become much more sophisticated and much more businesslike, taking advantage of best practices for nonprofit and religious institutions so that there’s greater transparency among the staff as well as the lay leadership.
And what are some of those best practices that you brought into play?
I think basically from a variety of different perspectives. Number one, in terms of general security, given the state of the world today and our nation with antisemitism on the rise, we’ve improved who’s been able to implement and execute best practices on security? And in terms of the security services that we offer as well as the protocols and procedures.
I think from a financial perspective, we’ve also been able to really introduce processes and programs that provide for checks and balances and greater insight into where we’ve come from and where we’re going to. From a human resources perspective. We’ve also been able to introduce policies and procedures that are much more in line with the business world and the nonprofit religious worlds of today.
That’s great. And, you know, so with all of those. Is there one thing in particular that you’re proud of accomplishing during your time here?
I think in a couple of different areas. One is the team approach to serving the community. Our staff is much more coherent as well, is geared towards member services. Our reason for being is everybody that steps through these doors and I think we’ve been able to highlight that approach to business. Also in terms of the partnership between clergy, lay leadership, and the administrative staff.
We’ve also become closer and really realize what each of our roles are in fulfilling the mission of the congregation. I think also what we as a team have been able to accomplish throughout the recent pandemic has been, like many organizations, transformative in that we’ve been able to change, adapt, and at the same time protect as much as we are able the health of our congregants.
And then finally, I think from a security perspective is probably one of the things that keeps me up at night is trying to work toward ensuring the physical safety of our congregation. And these are some of the things that I’m really proud of.
So with all of those, is there something that makes Washington Hebrew different, sets us apart from other congregations?
I think it’s what we provide our congregation and the membership. I think the variety of programs and activities that have been created by our clergy and executed and implemented by the staff. Really, there are very few congregations that have the breadth and depth of programming that we offer we all offer not only from a religious perspective but from a social justice perspective.
Tikkun olam is so important to this congregation, and we all strive to make the world a better place one day at a time, one person at a time.
Is there a memory that you’re going to take away in particular, or one particular moment that stands out?
I think how the congregation has come together to voice the values that are inherent in our prophetic Jewish tradition Over the past six years in terms of making sure that we provide our members with opportunities to march, to voice our values, and again, to make the world a better place.
All right. And what are you going to do next?
I’m retiring from Washington Hebrew, up to Connecticut to be closer to my wife’s family. And I certainly look forward to this next stage in my life. I think, you know, one of the things that I’ll miss is the people you know, this congregation is and has been a strong organization in D.C. in the reform movement. And even in the world.
And it’s the people that make that happen. And just the warmth and caring I feel for everyone that comes into these doors at both of our facilities is something that I will miss.
Well, you can’t take the people with you. But, you know, if we were able to give you anything in any of these buildings, artwork, books, you know, some sort of physical object. Is there one thing that you absolutely always go back to look at enjoy, experience, that you would love to take away?
I think really from a physical reminder of this place of not so much because it’s the memories that I’ll always treasure and the relationships that will continue. So that’s what’s really important to me. I think on my 10th anniversary, though, the physical reminder I received the gift of an Ohio State University mezuzah, and that’s something that will always remind me of Washington Hebrew.
Fantastic, Steve. Thanks so much. And happy retirement.
Okay. Thank you.
The WHC community also compiled a tribute book which was presented to Steve during his retirement celebration in May. You can see the messages from clergy, staff, and congregants by viewing the photo album below:
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