Rabbi Susan Shankman Nominated to Serve as WHC’s 7th Senior Rabbi

Rabbi Sue Shankman on the bima

The following letter was originally sent to members from Lewis Wiener, WHC President on July 22, 2022

It is my great honor and privilege to share that the Temple’s Board of Directors has enthusiastically and overwhelmingly adopted the Rabbinic Transition Committee’s recommendation that the Congregation elect Rabbi Susan N. Shankman as Washington Hebrew Congregation’s next – and 7th – Senior Rabbi. I am proud to add that the clergy team unanimously concurs with the recommendation.

Throughout this spring’s “Listening Tour,” the Rabbinic Transition Committee (RTC) and I engaged meaningfully with over 400 Temple members – in small groups and individually, in-person and over Zoom, through email exchanges and phone conversations. We heard about your respect and affection for our clergy team and the desire that they continue to grow and flourish as our spiritual leaders. When conversations turned to rabbinic leadership, clear themes emerged: compassion and warmth, how much it means when they take the time to get to know you, and the importance of bringing people together and building community within Washington Hebrew and beyond. Time and again, we heard how these are the traits that describe Rabbi Shankman and your support for her leadership.

Rabbi Shankman has been a beloved member of our clergy team for 22 years. She has distinguished herself as a caring, compassionate, dedicated, and inspiring spiritual leader, a rabbi who is embraced and respected not only at Washington Hebrew Congregation but throughout the Reform movement and the larger Jewish community. This is evident through the numerous leadership positions she has held and honors she has received from the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Jewish Women International (JWI), and elsewhere.

As we’ve shared throughout this process, our senior rabbi is chosen by a membership vote. Consistent with the Washington Hebrew Congregation Constitution Article III, Section 3 and Article VI, Section 2, we will convene a special meeting of the Congregation on August 25, 2022, at 7:00 pm at Macomb Street and by Zoom where you can hear the Rabbinic Transition Committee’s report and recommendation and participate in a vote to elect Rabbi Susan N. Shankman the next senior rabbi of Washington Hebrew Congregation.

As we look to the future, we also pay homage to our past. In that regard, it is bittersweet to announce that on July 1, 2022, Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig assumed emeritus status. We look forward to sharing more about Rabbi Lustig’s transition to rabbi emeritus and details about our community’s plans to celebrate his career and countless contributions to our Temple in the coming weeks.

We are grateful to everyone who took the time to share their thoughts, hopes, and dreams for Washington Hebrew Congregation this spring. We learned so much from you, including opportunities for our community to strengthen and grow. These additional themes will be the focus of our next effort – a strategic planning process (details to follow).

I look forward to the next chapter in Washington Hebrew Congregation’s glorious 170-year history and opportunities to serve our members through the great partnership that exists between and among our clergy, senior staff, and lay leadership. May we always move from strength to strength.

With my best personal regards,

Lewis Wiener, President