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Annual Fund Reflections

Nearly a year ago, I joined WHC as the new Director of Development and was charged with overseeing our Yad B’Yad or Annual Fund. I was very excited to get to know the community and congregation — I knew the storied history of Washington Hebrew Congregation and had little doubt that when asked to support all of the wonderful things that WHC does on a daily basis through Yad B’Yad, that our members would rise to the occasion.

When I started to meet and talk to congregants, I quickly learned that a congregational Annual Fund is a newer concept to our community and many people do not fully understand why we need Yad B’Yad to raise extra funds when we already have membership and school fees. Although we all pay our annual membership commitments, and Religious School and Early Childhood Center families pay tuition, these dollars do not come close to covering all of our everyday expenses and the cost of the amazing worship services, educational opportunities, engaging speakers, scholarships, and so much more that WHC offers.

In the aftermath of tragedy or in response to hate, Yad B’Yad funds have also given Washington Hebrew Congregation resources to bring our community together in significant and meaningful ways. Last spring, we were able to open our doors to house and feed student groups from around the country on the evening before the March for Our Lives. Hundreds of teens, parents, clergy, and Jewish community members came to WHC that night to attend our moving Shabbat service, vigil, and song session; and the next morning, we subsidized the cost of buses to enable our members to travel easily and safely to the March. In August, when the Alt-Right scheduled a march in D.C., Yad B’Yad funds gave us the ability to quickly organize a powerful day of peace and learning, beginning with a teach-in on white supremacy and ending with a Shabbat of Peace and candlelight vigil that drew hundreds to WHC as they chose knowledge and love over hate.

There are many other ways Yad B’Yad contributions enable us to do more for our community. We have brought special events to Washington Hebrew Congregation, such as last month’s live taping of “Unorthodox,” the world’s leading Jewish podcast, an evening attended by nearly 1,000 people. Gifts to Yad B’Yad will also enable us to host “Three Weddings and a Statement” in March. This large-scale event will bring three Israeli couples to WHC to be married. Israel’s Orthodox Chief Rabbinate prohibits two of the couples from marrying in their homeland, and the third rejects the Rabbinate’s rigid control over marriage. Yad B’Yad also extends a hand to our efforts help our greater community by supporting projects like Mitzvah Day and MLK Day of Service. As you can see, your support of Yad B’Yad is truly meaningful and much needed.

When Rabbi Lustig told me that two generous WHC families would match, dollar for dollar, all new and increased gifts made to Yad B’Yad in December up to $100,000, I was thrilled! We created and launched the Matching Monday campaign with hopes that it would encourage the donations we needed to help us reach our Yad B’Yad goal of $485,000 for this fiscal year.

So how did we do? Drumroll, please …

Success! In just five short weeks, 65 families made a new gift, and 46 additional families added to their 2018-2019 gift, we raised just over $200,000! This is all thanks to each and every one of you who participated and made a contribution to Yad B’Yad during the Matching Monday campaign in December!

If you missed the opportunity to donate to Yad B’Yad during the December challenge, it’s not too late — we still need your support! Please help us reach our goal of $485,000 by clicking here to make your online donation today. You can also mail your contribution to Temple, or simply call me at (202) 362-7100. Thank you, in advance, for joining me in support of our WHC community.