Menu Washington Hebrew Congregation

Rosh Hashanah

We welcome the New Year with a variety of worship experiences for every age and stage of life. At our foundation are Congregational services at Temple with moving sermons from our rabbis, and the beautiful, harmonious voices of our cantors accompanied by the festival choir. We offer an innovative, outdoor, musical Erev Rosh Hashanah service at JBSC, and services at Temple for young Jewish professionals in their 20s and 30s, families with preschoolers, and families with school age children.

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, 2018.

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 Schedule

Erev Rosh Hashanah, Sunday, September 9

Rosh Hashanah Under the Stars
5:00 pm (grounds open at 3:30 pm) at JBSC 
*now being held inside at JBSC. Tickets for this service will also be honored for the 6:00 pm Congregational service at Temple.

Congregational Service*
6:00 pm at Temple using Mishkan HaNefesh, a new Reform High Holy Day prayer book that is similar in style and layout to Mishkan T’filah, the prayer book we use on Shabbat.

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, Monday, September 10

Congregational Services*
9:00 am and 11:30 am at Temple

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

Family Service and Tashlich*
2:00 pm at Temple

*Service will be streamed at

Service Descriptions

Congregational Services
Suggested for: Adults and Teens
At these services, Washington Hebrew Congregation’s rabbis challenge our intellect and awaken our spirit with sermons that help us reflect on the 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.

On Rosh Hashanah Day, Kol Nidre, and Yom Kippur Day, our traditional High Holy Day prayer book, Gates of Repentance, guides our worship. This year, on Erev Rosh Hashanah, the Congregational Service at Temple will pilot Mishkan HaNefesh, a new Reform High Holy Day prayer book that is similar in style and layout to Mishkan T’filah, the prayer book we use on Shabbat.

All Congregational services have open seating for worshippers with the exception of the 6:00 pm and 9:00 am services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, where WHC’s Historic Seat holders can request to use their Historic Seats.

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.

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 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.

Family Services
Suggested for: Families with Children in Grades K – 6 and “Babies to Bubbies”
Filled with meaningful prayers, music, and stories, family services are perfect for generations who wish to worship together and help connect children to their heritage and faith. These services, led by our clergy and song leader — with participation from Religious School students — are created especially for elementary school-age children. They use either age-appropriate High Holy Day prayer books or visual tefilah, where prayers and songs are projected on screens enabling a hands-free worship experience.

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. WHC members should RSVP to Valerie Hillman Bluestein. Non-members should click here to register online.

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.

High Holy Day Collection Drive

We're helping food insecure individuals and families in our community with our annual food and long underwear drive. After each service on Rosh Hashanah, we'll be distributing paper bags, and we are asking you to fill these bags with much-needed items and return them to Temple or JBSC by Yom Kippur. Some much-needed items include:

  • Canned or dry beans
  • Canned tuna, salmon, or chicken
  • Canned fruits (packed in light syrup or its own juices)
  • Canned vegetables (low sodium, no salt added)
  • Grains, including brown and white rice, past, and macaroni & cheese
  • Healthy snacks, including apple sauce cups, raisins, and granola bars
  • Hot and cold cereal, including oatmeal, cheerios, cornflakes, and raisin bran
  • Peanut butter
  • 100% juice
  • Long Underware for Adults (sizes XL-5XL)

Your donations will go to the Capital Area Food BankNourish Now, and Friendship Place and will benefit some of the 700,000 people in our region who are at risk of hunger or lack of proper shelter for the winter months.

For more information, contact Naomi Gohn, 202-895-6328.

Rosh Hashanah Community Oneg and "Meet WHC" Fair

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.

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.

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 (9/30/17) and this Yom Kippur (9/19/18), 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.

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. 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 parking regulations will be strictly enforced. WHC is not responsible for any fines or penalties imposed for illegal parking.

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.

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 need.

As in years past, childcare is available for children who are at least 2 years old 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. 

A non-refundable payment is required to reserve a space for your child. For more information, please contact Maria Thompson, 202-895-6311.