Annual Meeting Vote on Constitution/Bylaw Amendments

172nd Annual Meeting

At the June 2022 Annual Meeting, the Congregation voted to approve amendments to modernize WHC’s procedures to allow for providing notice to the Congregation via email and holding Congregational meetings virtually. After that meeting, President Lewis Wiener asked WHC General Counsel Andrew Lazerow to lead an initiative to further update and modernize our Constitution and Bylaws. First Vice President Jeff Weiss, General Counsel Andrew Lazerow, Treasurer Eric Reicin, Board members Josh Galper, Richard Newman, and Ranit Schmelzer, and Senior Rabbi Shankman comprised the working group that engaged in that process over the last 18 months. The group met a number of times, conducted a survey review of the governing documents of other prominent reform congregations, and considered a number of revisions. The group presented its amendments to the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors in April, both of which recommended the proposed amendments to the Congregation for approval through a vote at the June 2, 2024 meeting.

You can find the Constitution and Bylaws, with the proposed amendments in “redline,” here. Most of the changes conform to WHC’s existing practices. For example, officers identified in the Constitution do not match the current officers of the Congregation (Article IV, Section 1). Likewise, the Constitution and Bylaws refer to the “Sisterhood,” even though that beloved group has changed its name to the Women of Washington Hebrew Congregation (Art. V, Sec. 1(a)). And WHC now has a number of affinity groups, even though such things did not exist 170 years ago (or even 70 years ago) (Art. V, Sec. 1(a) & (b)).

The proposed amendments include some important substantive changes designed to reflect our current community and modern governance.

First, an amendment to Article VI would remove the requirement that only a vote of the entire Congregation may “dissolve” the relationship with the Senior Rabbi. The proposal does not change the requirement that the entire Congregation vote to install a Senior Rabbi, but the cumbersome process for a Congregational vote could be an impediment to a necessary change that the Board, as elected representatives of the Congregation, is well-equipped, and should be empowered, to resolve.

Second, an amendment to Article I, Section 2, would update the goals of the Congregation to reflect the core of our mission today. The amendment is intended to more closely align with the mission statement on WHC’s website.

Finally, an amendment to Article II is intended to reflect that we are a diverse, inclusive, and interfaith community. One change would delete the outdated reference to a family membership as one involving only “husband and wife,” since it is now fundamental to the fabric of our community that we are inclusive of all families regardless of their makeup. Likewise, another change would afford all adults the rights of membership under our Constitution, including the right to vote at Congregational meetings, by expanding the definition of “member” to include adults who may not be Jewish, but who embrace Judaism, either through an interfaith family or otherwise.

The Board looks forward to presenting these proposed amendments to the Congregation for a vote at the June 2, 2024 Annual Meeting. In the meantime, please reach out to Andrew Lazerow at with any questions.