Menu Washington Hebrew Congregation

Yom Kippur

Beginning with the Kol Nidre and its soul-stirring prayers, the Day of Atonement provides our congregants with many options for community prayer and personal reflection at Temple. 

As with Rosh Hashanah, we offer Congregational, Young Professional, Preschool, Family, and Teen services. Many congregants find themselves spending much – or all – of the day at Temple, and we offer a selection of study sessions in the late morning and early afternoon. The afternoon also brings a poetry and music hour, Afternoon, Yizkor, and Neilah services, and an opportunity to break-the-fast as a community.

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

Kol Nidre, Tuesday, September 18

Congregational Services*
6:00 pm and 8:45 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.

Yom Kippur Day, Wednesday, September 19

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

Preschool Services
9:30 am and 11:00 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 BluesteinNon-members should click here to register online.

*Service will be streamed at

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”
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 millennials 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.

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.

Yom Kippur Study Sessions

11:15 am

I Won't Grow Up; Renewing Yourself at Retirement Age
Led by Dick Kaufmann
As we enter the next chapter of our lives, we may find that there is suddenly time to pursue new interests. How can we 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.

Complexities of the Middle East & Forgiveness
Led by Michael Sharnoff, Director of Senior Regional Initiatives at Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security 
The landscape of political tensions in the middle east is rapidly changing. Are we finally heading towards a place of understanding and cooperation
in this perpetually volatile region? What prospects exist for peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians? What role does
America play in the process? In this discussion, we will examine these questions and more as we take a closer look at the "new" middle east, and what it means for the possibility for peace.

12:15 pm

Thinking About Jewish-American Literature in the Wake of Philip Roth's Death
Facilitated by Jacques Berlinerblau, Professor and Director of the Program for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University
This past Spring brought the news of the death of Philip Milton Roth (1933-2017). He joins Saul Bellow and Bernard Malamund on the list of Jewish-American literary titans whose legacy we must assess. In this discussion, we will ponder the questions these writers posed to Jewish-America on the issues of assimilation, intermarriage, support for Israel, and more. We will also probe the present and next generation of Jewish-American writers to gauge what new questions we should be asking.

The Anatomy of Forgiveness: The Challenges & Rewards
Led by Janice Harold, Licensed Psychotherapist & Board Certified Career Counselor
Yom Kippur demands forgiveness, but what does forgiveness really mean? This workshop will explore this complex question and explore the challenges we face when seeking forgiveness from others, and from ourselves.

Reflecting Through Art & Meditation
Led by DJ Jensen, Head of Schools for WHC Early Childhood Centers
On this Yom Kippur, learn to relax and reflect while creating something beautiful. This session introduces you to the art of Zentangle, a meditative artform that can reduce your stress and improve your life experience. It is also something that anyone can do -- no artistic ability is required to get the most out of the Zentangle experience.

1:30 pm

Religious Response to The Moral Issues of our Times
Panel discussion with Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, Bishop Mariann Budde, Bishop Mario Eduardo Dorsonville-Rodriguez, and Imam Mohamed Magid
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. Alongside Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, our panelists, Bishop Mariann Budde, Bishop Mario Eduardo Dorsonville-Rodriguez, and Imam Mohamed Magid will look at the role faith plays in key issues facing our society today. Topics will include gun violence, homelessness and poverty, the opioid addiction epidemic, racism, and inequality.

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).

Prophetic Power & Politics: How Reform Jews Can Confront the Fierce Urgency of Now and Covenant to Create a More Just World
Led by Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
During this session, we will look at the historic decision made by the Reform Movement nearly 60 years ago during the height of the Civil Rights Movement -- to start the Religious Action Center. With Rabbi Jonah Pesner as your guide, this session will lay out the compelling challenges we continue to confront as we seek a world of wholeness, justice, and peace, especially during the current political climate. This session will conclude with a call to action -- concrete steps we can take as individuals, as a congregation, and as a movement for Tikkun Olam


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 $24 per person, no charge for children 10 and under. 
Online registration for this year's event has now closed. If you are still interested in attending please contact Beth at  202-895-6309. Walk-ins are also accepted at the door with cash or check. 

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

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.

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.

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.