A Year in Song

Cantors Bortnick & Hamstra at the 2022 Cantors' Concert.

Cantor Suzanne Hamstra and I have worked hard to create a vibrant musical program here at Washington Hebrew Congregation. This past year, music played a central role in connecting our congregation, fostering joy, and offering solace during challenging times.

High Holy Days and Beyond

Our High Holy Days were particularly moving, with a special S’lichot service featuring beautiful melodies and a Poetry and Music Hour on Yom Kippur filled with powerful reflection. Just weeks later, the world faced the attack on Israel. In response, Cantor Hamstra and I, along with colleagues from across the DMV, held a concert to raise vital funds for Israel’s recovery.

Musical Milestones

The year was filled with diverse musical experiences. We celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy with a rousing performance by Shiloh Baptist’s gospel choir and our own Kol Rinah choir. A Florida Reunion Concert serenaded our snowbirds, Purim brought us Megillah! The Musical, and a joyful Women’s Seder featuring guest musician Michelle Citrin was a beautiful start to Passover.

Weekly Shabbat Magic

The Irene and Abe Pollin Shabbat Music Enhancement Fund allows us to transform Shabbat services into uplifting experiences. Each week, singing, harmonies, and instruments elevate our prayers. We also offer services with our longstanding vocal quartet and experimented with two Classical Shabbat Services featuring music from the 1980s-’90s and the by composer Max Helfman.

Looking Ahead: A Season of Song

As we embark on a new year, music will continue to be a cornerstone of WHC. Here’s a glimpse into upcoming highlights for 2024-2025:

  • October 4: Shabbat service featuring contemporary Israeli composers.
  • October 12: Yom Kippur Poetry and Music Hour focusing on healing and honoring contemporary Israeli composers.
  • November 15: Veterans Shabbat combined with a Classical Shabbat service highlighting music from the Korean War era.
  • December 8: Special Cantors’ Concert (theme to be announced).
  • March 14: Purim celebration with a fun-filled evening of musical parodies!
  • March 28-30: Artist-in-residence weekend with Elana Arian, culminating in a Women’s Seder.
  • April 25: Classical Shabbat Service (theme to be announced.)
  • May 2: Annual Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron, and Yom HaAtzmaut service featuring poetry and music.
  • July: WHC hosts the American Conference of Cantors Concert celebrating 50 years of Women in the Cantorate.

We invite you to join us for these upcoming events and experience the power of music at WHC.