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Guide to High Holy Day Services & Tickets

Which services should I attend? How do I prepare spiritually for the High Holy Days? What do I do once I arrive at Temple? All of these questions and more must be considered as you get ready for the High Holy Days. Our Guide to High Holy Day Services & Tickets, which can also be viewed as a PDF by clicking here, will help you and your family embark on a sweet 5778.

Below, you will find information on how to reserve your tickets, descriptions of the services being held over the High Holy Days, the service schedule for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and information on services and experiences that round out our fall holidays.

If you have questions about tickets, please contact the Seating Office at or 202-895-6319. The Seating Office is unable to process requests via phone or email.

We look forward to sharing the beauty and joy of the High Holy Days with you.

Ticket Information

Temple Members
High Holy Day tickets are free for members of Washington Hebrew Congregation and their children under the age of 30, provided the member’s Temple account is in good financial standing as of June 30, 2017.

Questions about your membership status? Contact Lindsay Fry Feldman, 202-895-6321.
Questions about unpaid balances? Contact Petra Tchouante, 202-895-6318.

Out-of-Town Guests?
You may request tickets for visiting friends or family who belong to a congregation out of our area. Your guests must also have their temple fax or mail a Reciprocal Seating Request form to the Seating Office at Temple.

Going Away for the High Holy Days?
WHC members in good standing who will be away for either or both of the High Holy Days may request a Reciprocal Seating form to attend services at another Reform congregation. To request a form, please email or call 202-895-6319.

Not Using Your Tickets This Year?
If you find that you will not be using tickets you have requested for one or more High Holy Day services, please return them to Temple so we can accommodate everyone’s needs and preferences in the most timely manner.

Service Descriptions

General Service Descriptions

Congregational Services
Suggested for: Adults and Teens
With liturgy from Gates of Repentance as a foundation, our clergy connect us to the generations that came before us. Our rabbis challenge the intellect and awaken the spirit with sermons that help us reflect on our past year and inspire us to move forward. Our cantors, joined by the Festival Choir, bring the beautiful music of the High Holy Days to life with voices that lift us up and guide us toward spiritual renewal.

All Congregational services will once again have open seating for worshippers with the exception of WHC’s Historic Seat holders who can request to use their Historic Seats at the 6:00 pm and 9:00 am services.

About Historic Seats: To help finance the construction of the Temple building on Macomb Street in 1955, Washington Hebrew gave its members the opportunity to contribute to our future by investing in High Holy Day seats. The original seats could be passed down one generation, after which they return to the open pool of High Holy Day congregational seats.

Family Services
Suggested for: Families with Children in Grades K – 6 and “Babies to Bubbies”
At Family services, our clergy and song leader — with participation from Religious School students — use a High Holy Day prayer book created especially for elementary school-age children and families. Filled with meaningful prayers, music, and stories, this worship experience brings families together and helps connect children to their heritage and faith.

Preschool Services
Suggested for: Families with Toddlers through Pre-Kindergartners
Through songs, brief prayers, and stories, our clergy and song leaders create a special, warm community worship experience, one-half hour in length, for our youngest congregants and their families.

Young Professionals Services
Suggested for: Young Professionals in their 20s and 30s
Building on the energy and spiritual connection our monthly 2239 Metro Minyan services bring to Washington, D.C.’s Jewish young professional community, Rabbi Miller will lead High Holy Day services designed specifically with millenials in mind. Erev Rosh Hashanah and Kol Nidre services will be held at First Congregational UCC, located at 945 G Street NW, Washington, DC. On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur mornings and on Yom Kippur afternoon, 2239 services will be held at Temple. Temple members should RSVP to Valerie Hillman Bluestein. Non-members should click here to register online.

Holiday-Specific Services

Suggested for: Adults and Young Professionals in their 20s and 30s
We gather at Temple on Saturday night the week before Rosh Hashanah for Selichot, a beautiful and moving candlelit service that urges us to reflect on the year that is ending and helps us prepare for the days of awe ahead of us.

Cemetery Memorial Services
Suggested for: Adults and Young Professionals in their 20s and 30s
During the High Holy Day season, our clergy lead a memorial service at each of Washington Hebrew’s cemeteries — Memorial Park and Garden of Remembrance. Visiting the graves of loved ones at this time of year gives us a chance to reflect on the lives of those we’ve lost and feel a renewed sense of closeness to them. By connecting to our past, we fortify ourselves to look to the future and realize our generation is but a link in the chain of our Jewish heritage.

Rosh Hashanah Under the Stars
Suggested for: Everyone
Set on the sprawling lawn of the Julia Bindeman Suburban Center (or, in case of rain, in its light-filled indoor worship space), Rosh Hashanah Under the Stars is a contemporary, festive Erev Rosh Hashanah service. It begins at 5:00 pm, but we open the grounds at 3:30 pm with musical entertainment by BlueLine, the award-winning a cappella quintet, and North American Israeli jazz ensemble Seeds of Sun, featuring Mattan Klein. We provide seating, though many families choose to bring lawn chairs, blankets, and picnics. Our clergy provide a “hands-free” worship experience with prayers displayed on jumbo screens, enabling worshippers to appreciate the beauty and community that surround them.

Suggested for: Families with Children in Grades K – 6 and “Babies to Bubbies”
Casting breadcrumbs into a moving body of water is a centuries-old custom of the Jewish people. As the breadcrumbs move away with the currents, we unburden ourselves of regret and symbolically purify our bodies and souls. Our Tashlich ceremony is held outside, behind Temple, immediately following the Rosh Hashanah family service.

Yom Kippur Teen Service
Suggested for: Teens
Topical, interactive, and creative, this service gives high school students a meaningful way to connect to their faith and teshuvah (repentance). Designed each year by and for high school students, it weaves liturgy and music with messages and themes to engage teens (and their parents who sometimes accompany them).

Yom Kippur Study Sessions
Suggested for: Adults, Young Professionals in their 20s and 30s, and Teens
To enhance the spirit of Yom Kippur and enable congregants to extend their personal reflection, we offer a variety of study sessions and panel discussions after each Congregational service on Yom Kippur morning. Advance registration is not necessary. The Study Session schedule will be published prior to the High Holy Days.

Yom Kippur Poetry and Music Hour
Suggested for: Adults and Young Professionals in their 20s and 30s
On Yom Kippur — the holiest of holidays — our cantors, Kol Rinah, and Festival Choir lend their voices to soul-stirring musical pieces and poetry selections giving congregants time to reflect upon their year and teshuvah (repentance) or to simply experience a moment of solitude and personal prayer.

Yom Kippur Afternoon, Yizkor, and Neilah Services
Suggested for: Adults, Young Professionals in their 20s and 30s, and Teens
These three services flow seamlessly from one to the next. Our clergy begin with the liturgy designed for the afternoon of Yom Kippur. Yizkor, the memorial service, follows. This holy day closes with Neilah — the short concluding service which features some of the most beautiful and sacred liturgy of the High Holy Days.

Service Schedule: Rosh Hashanah

Erev Rosh Hashanah, Wednesday, September 20

Rosh Hashanah Under the Stars
5:00 pm (grounds open at 3:30 pm) at JBSC

Congregational Service*
6:00 pm at Temple

2239 Service
7:45 pm at First Congregational UCC
Temple members should RSVP to Valerie Hillman Bluestein. Non-members should click here to register online.

Rosh Hashanah Day, Thursday, September 21

Congregational Service*
9:00 am at Temple

Preschool Services
9:30 am and 11:00 am at Temple

Congregational Service*
11:30 am at Temple

Family Service and Tashlich*
2:00 pm at Temple

*Service will be streamed at

Service Schedule: Yom Kippur

Kol Nidre, Friday, September 29

Congregational Service*
6:00 pm at Temple

Family Service*
7:00 pm at Temple

2239 Service
7:45 pm at First Congregational UCC
Temple members should RSVP to Valerie Hillman Bluestein. Non-members should click here to register online.

Congregational Service*
8:45 pm at Temple

Yom Kippur Day, Saturday, September 30

Congregational Service*
9:00 am at Temple

Preschool Services
9:30 am and 11:00 am at Temple

Congregational Service*
11:30 am at Temple

Study Sessions
Throughout the day, beginning at 11:15 am at Temple

Family Service*
2:00 pm at Temple

Teen Service
3:15 pm at Temple

Poetry and Music Hour*
3:15 pm at Temple

Afternoon, Yizkor, and Neilah*
4:00 pm at Temple

2239 Afternoon, Yizkor, and Neilah
4:00 pm at Temple
Temple members should RSVP to Valerie Hillman Bluestein. Online registration for non-members will open soon.

*Service will be streamed at

Service Schedule: Memorial and Selichot

Selichot, Saturday, September 16*
At Temple
5:00 pm: Congregational Dinner sponsored by the EmptyNesters auxiliary. Click here to register.
6:30 pm: "A Time for Reflection" guided meditation
7:00 pm: Selichot Service followed by a dessert reception

Visit our webpage to learn more about this worship service.

Community Memorial Service, Sunday, September 10
10:00 am at Memorial Park on Alabama Avenue

Community Memorial Service, Sunday, September 24
10:00 am at Garden of Remembrance in Clarksburg, MD

Sukkot Festival Service, Thursday, October 5*
10:30 am at Temple

Simchat Torah Festival & Yizkor Service, Thursday, October 12*
10:30 am at Temple

*Service will be streamed at

Rosh Hashanah Community Oneg


On Rosh Hashanah day, come to Irwin & Ginny Edlavitch Hall to reconnect, schmooze, and nosh as you get to know your Temple in a whole new way. Representatives from all areas of Temple life will be on hand to tell you how you can get more involved in this year's exciting worship opportunities, programs, classes, and cultural events.

Stop by after the 9:00 am and 11:30 am Congregational Services.

Travel & Parking Information

Off-Site Parking

Our complimentary off-site parking is the most convenient and stress-free way to park for High Holy Day services. Safe, comfortable, climate-controlled shuttle buses will run throughout the holidays, bringing you from off-site parking to the Temple’s door and back. When using off-site parking, please add 25 minutes to your travel plans for the shuttle to ensure you arrive at Temple in time for your service.

On Erev Rosh Hashanah, Rosh Hashanah Day, Kol Nidre, and Yom Kippur Day, parking will be available at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral and National Presbyterian Church. On Yom Kippur Day, parking at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral is only available until 3:00 pm. For more information about these parking options, please see below.

Erev Rosh Hashanah, Rosh Hashanah Day, Kol Nidre, and Yom Kippur Day
Shuttles begin at 5:00 pm on Erev Roshanah and Kol Nidre. On Rosh Hashanah Day and Yom Kippur Day, shuttles begin at 8:00 am.

St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 2815 36th Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

Traveling south on Wisconsin Avenue:
After crossing Massachusetts Avenue, make the first left onto Garfield Street. Cross Massachusetts Avenue a second time, the Cathedral parking lot will be located on the right.

National Presbyterian Church, 4101 Nebraska Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016

Located at the intersection of Nebraska Avenue and Van Ness Street NW near American University and NBC, the parking lot is accessible from Van Ness.

Temple Parking

Parking in the Temple lot is very limited and permitted only with a special WHC High Holy Day parking pass. Note: those with government-issued handicapped tags will also need a WHC-issued parking pass to gain entry to the lot.

Street Parking

Please remember that WHC is located in a residential neighborhood. We ask everyone to respect the property, comfort, and safety of our neighbors and take care not to park in front of private driveways, fire hydrants, or other restricted areas. All non-time restricted parking regulations will be strictly enforced. WHC is not responsible for any fines or penalties imposed for illegal parking.

If you choose to park on neighboring roads during High Holy Day services, options include the McLean Gardens neighborhood (38th Street, 39th Street, Idaho Avenue, Macomb Street, Newark Avenue, Porter Street, and Rodman Street) where weekly two-hour parking restrictions have been eased.

Parking will continue to be restricted on Wisconsin Avenue; inbound lanes of Massachusetts Avenue from 7:00 - 9:30 am; and outbound lanes of Massachusetts Avenue from 4:00 - 6:30 pm.

Yom Kippur Study Sessions

11:15 am

Reinvention and Following Your Passion
Dick Kaufmann
As you enter the next chapter of your life, you may find that you suddenly have time to pursue new interests. How do you take these interests and turn them into a new passion project? Dick Kaufmann encountered this same question, and used it as an opportunity to reinvent himself as a cabaret singer. In this session, he'll talk about his second career and discuss how you can reinvent yourself by following your passion.

Sports, Morality, and the Season of Judgement
Phil Hochberg
The world of sports is not immune from consideration and discussion on this Day of Atonement. From Hank Greenberg sitting out on Yom Kippur to resolved questions of integration to unresolved questions of drug use and, yes, even team names, we’ll discuss “Sports and the Moral Issues They Raise in the Season of Judgment.” Attorney Phil Hochberg, former Stadium Announcer for both the Washington Redskins and the Washington Senators and in the Redskins Ring of Stars/Hall of Fame and the Washington, D.C. Sports Hall of Fame at Nationals Park, will lead the discussion.

12:15 pm

Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First: Caregiver Self Care
Erica Berger, Deborah Berman, Barbara Polansky, and Jim Salander
Life is a journey with unforeseen disruptions that tap into unimaginable inner resources. Whether caring for a loved one with a chronic illness, caring for a sick child, or shouldering an emergency, caregivers often find themselves front and center navigating complex issues as best they can. During this Yom Kippur workshop, we will engage in a discussion on coping methods, recognizing and replenishing ones own well being while caring, available community resources, as well as examples of inspirational inner strength.

This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared
Rabbi Aaron Miller
Join us for a discussion on Rabbi Alan Lew's book, This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared. The "Zen Rabbi" offers readers a new perspective on the most profound time in the Jewish calendar, the High Holy Days. An introspective journey of self-reflection through the lens of the High Holy Day season, Lew challenges us to understand the holiest days of the Jewish year more deeply. This promises to be a timely discussion and reflection as we enter the first days of the New Year.

1:30 pm

Prejudice, Race, and Religion
Panel discussion with Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, and Cornell Brooks
America’s journey to achieve justice and equality for all its citizens can be either enhanced or challenged by the interplay between race, religion, and politics. Our panelists, Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, formerly with the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center; Cornell Brooks, the former president of the NAACP; and Rabbi Lustig understand the tension that exists between these three pillars of our society. As clergymen of conscience, each one personally and professionally stands on principal and lives by faith. As we all confront the aftermath of Charlottesville and live with continued racial and religious tension in our city and across the nation, our panelists will share their hopes and fears for our own goal of making the world a better place. While tikkun olam is a cornerstone of Reform Judaism, it is also a guiding light for our dreams to live together in peace and harmony.

2:30 pm

Why Judaism and Jews Matter
Rabbi Joseph A. Skloot
Explore the contribution Judaism and Jews can make in shaping the common good in an anxious world. During this session, we will read key texts from 20th-century thinkers who pondered the place of Judaism in an increasingly interconnected and uncertain world and reflect on our own experiences. Bring your thinking caps!

3:15 pm

Poetry and Music
Cantors Mikhail Manevich and Susan Bortnick and Kol Rinah
On Yom Kippur – the holiest of holidays – our cantors, Kol Rinah, and Festival Choir lend their voices to soul-stirring musical pieces and poetry selections in a meditative worship prelude that gives congregants time to reflect upon their year and teshuvah (repentance).

The Urgency of Now: Acting Together to Build the World We Want
Barbara Weinstein, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center
As we stand on the precipice of a New Year filled with hope and opportunity, how can we work together to bring more justice, wholeness, and peace to our world? In the tradition of the Yom Kippur liturgy, take part in a conversation about how the Washington Hebrew community can join with congregations across the Reform Movement to "unlock fetters of wickedness, let the oppressed go free, share our bread with the hungry, and to let the poor into our homes" (Isaiah 58:5-7).

Break the Fast at Temple

End your day of praying and fasting with your Temple family at a delicious, break-fast meal immediately following concluding services on Yom Kippur. Transportation after the meal from Temple to WHC’s satellite parking lots will be provided.

Temple-Wide Break-Fast – hosted by the EmptyNesters. This meal is open to the Temple community and their guests. The meal costs $22 per person, no charge for children 10 and under. Purchase your meal online by visiting our registration page or send a check to Beth Donaldson at Temple, attention Temple-Wide Break-Fast. Please include your name, phone number, number of guests, name of guests, number of children age 10 and under, and number in need of shuttle transportation following the meal. For more information, contact Beth, 202-895-6309.

2239 Break-Fast – hosted by 2239. We also offer a break-fast for the 2239 community and their guests. The cost is $25. Temple members should RSVP to Valerie Hillman Bluestein. Non-members can register online.

High Holy Day Collection Drive

At Washington Hebrew, we welcome the sweetness of the New Year on Rosh Hashanah by reflecting on our past year and reawakening our spirit for the year to come. On Yom Kippur, we fast as a means to achieve teshuvah (repentance). We also take this opportunity to recommit ourselves to social action and perform acts of tzedakah.

The Community Issues/Social Action Committee and WHECTY have teamed up to help Capital Area Food Bank and Nourish Now replenish their shelves and assist Friendship Place in keeping those in need warm this winter.

Please help those less fortunate in our community by bringing the items listed below to Temple or JBSC by Yom Kippur. We are collecting:

  • Beans – canned or dried
  • Canned protein – salmon, tuna, chicken
  • Canned vegetables – low sodium or no salt added
  • Canned fruit – packed in its own juice or light syrup
  • Cereal – oatmeal, cheerio, corn flakes, raisin bran
  • Grains – brown & white rice, mac & cheese, pasta
  • Healthy snacks – apple sauce cups, raisins, granola bars
  • Peanut butter
  • New long underwear –  men's and women's*

*For winter clothing donations, there is a huge need for large sizes (XXL, XXXL).

Make your long underwear purchase through the WHC Mitzvah Mall and your donation will benefit WHC's youth social justice programs.

Bins are available at both locations for your donations. Thank you for helping us start the year with an important, yet simple, act of tikkun olam.

Accessibility and Assistance

Handicap Access – We have a wheelchair ramp at the Irwin & Ginny Edlavitch Hall entrance on Macomb Street and a chair glide at the parking lot entrance.

If a Medical Need Arises – A licensed paramedic will be in Hurston Library, and an ambulance will be stationed outside Temple on Macomb Street during all High Holy Day services. We also have first aid supplies and an automated external defibrillator (AED) on the premises. If you or a family member are in need of assistance, please see an usher. These resources are supported by the Dr. LeRoy and Naomi Robins Medical Emergency Fund.

Assistive Listening Devices – Wireless headphones, available in Hurston Library, will enable you to utilize our infrared listening system in Kaufmann Sanctuary, Albert & Shirley Small Chapel, and Irwin & Ginny Edlavitch Hall.

American Sign Language and Oral Interpretation – ASL and oral interpretation will be provided during the following service times at Temple: 6:00 pm on Erev Rosh Hashanah; 9:00 am and 2:00 pm on Rosh Hashanah Day; 8:45 pm on Kol Nidre; and 9:00 am and 2:00 pm on Yom Kippur Day.

Low Vision Resources – Large-print prayer books are available in Hurston Library.

If You Cannot be at WHC: Live Video Streaming & Listen-In – WHC will stream High Holy Day services live from Kaufmann Sanctuary and Albert & Shirley Small Chapel over the internet, accessible at As always, you can call 202-895-6333 to hear a live broadcast of any service in Kaufmann Sanctuary. Live streaming is made possible by the Pat and Larry Mann Streaming Initiative and the Samuel Burtoff, MD Streaming Support Fund.

Babysitting Services

As parents, we rely on experienced professionals to provide quality childcare for our little ones while we work, run errands, and attend social events. With the High Holy Days quickly approaching, we offer a solution for your childcare needs by providing our ECC teachers during our services.

As in years past, childcare is available for children 2+ years of age during Erev Rosh Hashanah, Rosh Hashanah Day, Kol Nidre, and Yom Kippur services. Our goal is to provide the peace of mind of knowing your children are nearby, safe and sound, while you take part in the sacred High Holy Day experience. Our ECC teachers have passed thorough background checks and are CPR certified. 

We have a limited number of fine ECC teachers able to provide an equally limited number of openings. A non-refundable payment is required to reserve a space for your child. For more information, please contact Maria Thompson, 202-895-6311.

Milestones and Mitzvot

Welcoming Babies and Grandchildren
We have a wonderful tradition on Rosh Hashanah of reading the names of the babies and children who have come into the lives of our Temple families since Rosh Hashanah 2016. If you welcomed a child or grandchild this past year and would like to include them in this reading, please contact Layne Weiss, 202-895-6307, with the child's name and date of birth.

Celebrating 83rd Birthdays
Our religion gives us the opportunity to honor a long life with the beautiful custom of celebrating a second (or first!) Bar or Bat Mitzvah when a person turns 83. If you celebrated or will celebrate your birthday between last Yom Kippur (10/12/16) and this Yom Kippur (9/30/17), we invite you to join us on the bimah to read the Torah blessings during the morning Congregational Service on Yom Kippur. To participate in this aliyah, please contact Layne Weiss, 202-895-6307.

Ushering at High Holy Day Services
High Holy Day ushers are a welcoming presence at our doors and in our worship spaces. If you would like to serve as an usher at any of our services, please contact Nancy Misler, 202-895-6342.

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