WHC Adds a New Associate Rabbi

Rabbi Rachel Schmelkin

We are thrilled to share the exciting news that Rabbi Rachel Schmelkin will join our clergy team this summer. Over the past few months, a broad spectrum of members, board members, staff, and clergy interviewed dozens of candidates with a variety of backgrounds. The Rabbinic Search Committee (RSC) enthusiastically extended Rabbi Schmelkin the invitation to join our outstanding and accomplished clergy team.

Rabbi Schmelkin brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and passion to our congregation. Currently working with the One America Movement and following her tenure at Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville, Virginia (where she served during the 2017 “Summer of Hate”), Rabbi Schmelkin developed and launched a new fellowship to educate Jewish clergy on toxic polarization and train them to navigate division in their own communities. Her passion for Jewish education, social justice, and community building is contagious, and her energy and enthusiasm are sure to inspire and uplift all who have the privilege of working with her. Rabbi Schmelkin says of herself, I place “loving-kindness at the center of my work. I strive to treat every person with loving-kindness and encourage each person to offer it to themselves.”

Rabbi Schmelkin is eager to get to know our members and help our community grow and thrive. Over the summer, there will be several opportunities to meet and spend time with our newest rabbi. We hope you will participate and experience for yourself her warmth, approachability, and deep commitment to our community and its well-being.

This past year has brought many exciting changes to Washington Hebrew, including a recommendation from the Rabbinic Transition Committee (RTC) that we expand our rabbinic team, which stemmed from the many conversations we had with our members throughout the RTC listening sessions. Other initiatives recommended by our members, which will be detailed elsewhere, are planned for the near future. We are grateful for the dedication and extensive work of our members who served on these two committees. We extend special thanks to RSC co-chairs Janet Katz and Josh Galper and committee members Dan Caplan, Nancy Duber, Allie Heiman, Sherri Bindeman Kahn, Alex Lehtman, Josh Maxey, Paul Nass, Stephanie Posner, Helen Primis, Rachel Weinberg, Jeff Weiss, Peter Winik, and Evan Winston for leading our rabbinic search effort. We also thank all of you who shared your thoughts during the rabbinic transition and search processes.

Please join in giving a warm welcome to Rabbi Rachel Schmelkin. We have no doubt that she will be an exceptional spiritual leader and a valued member of our community.