Celebrating Freedom and Community

White man in sportcoat stands next to Black man in denim shirt and kippah.

Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States, continues to raise awareness of the nation’s ongoing issues of racial justice and equity. Once again, Washington Hebrew Congregation is taking a vital step in fostering interfaith dialogue and celebration with its upcoming Juneteenth events. Organized by our Jews of Color group, the program promises a weekend rich in learning, reflection, and shared joy.

The centerpiece of the festivities is the Juneteenth Shabbat@WHC on Friday, June 14, 6:00 pm at Temple. This special Shabbat service welcomes guest speaker Yolanda Savage-Narva, a powerhouse voice in the fight for racial equity. Savage-Narva currently serves as the Vice President of Racial Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Communities of Belonging for the Union for Reform Judaism. Her insights promise to illuminate the connections between Jewish and Black struggles for freedom.

The focus on understanding continues with a film screening of The Big Payback at the Edlavitch DC JCC on Monday, June 17. This provocative documentary explores the complexities of reparations for Black Americans through the lens of a community grappling with a groundbreaking reparations program. The film promises to spark discussions about racial justice, historical accountability, and the path toward true healing. A panel discussion on the case for reparations with activist and lawyer, Nkechi Taifa, filmmaker Robin Rue Simmons, and Jewish communal leaders will follow.

WHC also actively fosters interfaith connections. On Wednesday, June 19, WHC members are invited to the Annual Scotland AME Zion Juneteenth Heritage Festival. These collaborative events allow for shared experiences, fostering a sense of solidarity and community across racial and religious lines.

WHC’s Juneteenth program is a testament to the power of faith-based initiatives in promoting racial understanding and social justice. By creating a platform for dialogue, reflection, and celebration, the congregation is fostering a more inclusive future, one where diverse voices are heard, connections are built, and the promise of freedom resonates for all.

For more information and to RSVP for either Juneteenth Shabbat@WHC or the festival, visit whctemple.org and search “Juneteenth.”