A belated ringing in of 5779!

Adas Israel’s high holidays 5779 theme / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

We’re now deep into the fall holidays, so better recap my Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at Adas Israel! Here are my High Holidays Highlights:

  • Adas changed up some of the protocol on Rosh Hashanah–they encouraged all of us to clamor into Smith in order to hear the shofar for the first time. It was my first time in the main sanctuary for the morning of Rosh Hashanah Day 1, though I did have to leave afterwards to cede the space to reserved ticketeers. Then I went down to Kay Hall, where I usually spend the Torah service and musaf. But Smith is very much a part of my festivities on Rosh Hashanah Day 2. I joined the flash choir led by Cantor Brown yet again to sing Leonard Cohen’s rendition of Hal’lujah psalm as arranged by Elliot Z. Levine. For most of High Holidays, I admittedly feel like an invisible drop of water in a huge ocean. But RHD2 has become my chance to be proactively and publicly engaged with the holiday. I like the smaller, more intimate feel of the service, too.
  • Due to the weather–Hurricane Florence loomed heavily Rabbi Holtzblatt’s sermon–the usually outdoor “Return Again” Kol Nidre was moved indoors. I arrived maybe 10-15 minutes before the official start of the service, and spent ample time in lines that snaked through the parking lot before streaming into the building through the preschool entrance. I guess I got a feel for how large the parking lot actually is, because so far it accommodates everyone, I believe, who wants to attend this free event. Whereas this year I and others watched a broadcast from Smith in the “overflow” room of Kay. Proceedings were delayed until everyone was inside, making for a late but inclusive night. I’m starting to get used to the song melodies and instrumentation, and largely closed my eyes and swayed around a bit. In terms of kinetic spirituality, this was it.
  • This year’s Yom Kippur afternoon guests were podcasters and Adas members Alix Speigel and Hanna Rosin. Their show, Invisibilia, tracks specific stories and focuses on the human behaviors behind them. In conversation with Adas’s senior rabbis, they centered on themes of apology and forgiveness in the public sphere. This has long been an area of personal interest, as communities are starting to use social media to regulate “appropriate” responses to controversy and bad behavior–what these ladies referred to as “call out culture.” Where’s the line between sincerity/authenticity and a social totalitarianism? Beyond that, I enjoyed Rabbi Alexander’s sermon on self-forgiveness and how the idea might be implicitly referred to in sacred texts. He also taught us a niggun to sing as he read passages to invoke the feeling of ancient temple sacrifices. And the martyrology service was perhaps a little less communal than years past–no dittoes and group discussions–though one Adas member recounted for all of us his family’s tragic Holocaust story and it’s redemptive end. Followed by a moving a acapella piece by our annual singing quartet about finding faith even in the darkness. A nice way to start the new year off on the right foot.

What were your favorite experiences of High Holidays 5779? Feel free to share in the comments!

Sukkot continues through Sunday, Sept 30, followed by Simchat Torah in October! Check out what local synagogues are up to by clicking here.


DC High Holidays Classes and Events 5779

Apple picking is a common tradition around Rosh Hashanah / image courtesy of GetDrawings.com

L’shanah tova! A new year will be upon us in under a month—and with that, my favorite holiday. 😀 Bring on the apples and honey!

For tickets, Jconnect has in depth detail concerning fees, schedules and more for DC and area MD and VA synagogues. Gather DC focuses more specifically on young adults, and has links to services and other activities to help this cohort connect.

Washington also offers classes and events to inform you and get you in the spirit of high holidays! I’ve gathered up a few offerings from Sixth & I and the Edlavitch DCJCC, JCCNV, the Bender JCC and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Lots of apple pickings this year. 😛 Please leave others in the comments!

Wednesday, September 5 and Wednesday, September 12
Hit Refresh: Preparing for the High Holidays, 7 pm, Sixth & I

Sunday, September 9
A Taste of Apples and Honey: Community Apple Picking, 2:30 pm, JCCNV
Days of Awe-some: Exploring Rosh Hashanah, 4 pm, EDCJCC

Wednesday, September 12
Rosh Hashanah Pick ‘n Picnic, 10:30 am, Bender JCC

Thursday, September 13
Cheers to a Sweet New Year with Young Leadership Donors, 6:30 pm, JFGW
The Unkosher Comedy Tour: Confessions, 7 pm, EDCJCC

Sunday, September 16
Pick with PJ: Apple Picking Event, 10 am, JFGW

Celebrate Purim in 5778!

graphic courtesy of Clipart Library

Purim starts on February 28, a festive holiday of rejoicing, yet again, in the fact that we (the Jews) have survived a persecution attempt. Huzzah! Though not as noticeable to the outside world as, say, Chanukah, it is definitely as fun—allowing people of all ages to dress up, eat special sweets, and wave noisemakers called groggers as the Megillah (book of Esther) is read out enthusiastically.

…but you don’t have to wait until the 14th of Adar to dress up as your favorite Biblical character, or at least to get down. Enjoy these local offerings of Purim-related festivities leading up to and encompassing this holiday event! I’ll be at Adas Israel for their Purim spiel, as part of the adult flash choir! 😀 Chag sameach.

Saturday, February 24

Bethesda Jewish Congregation Religious School Purim Carnival

Sunday, February 25

Adat Shalom A Colorful Purim: Purim Carnival

Congregation Beth Emeth Purim Palooza in Northern Virginia

Washington Hebrew Congregation Not Your Ordinary Hamentaschen

Wednesday, February 28

Temple Shalom Wizard of Oz of Purim

Purim gets Wild at Adas Israel!

Tikvat Israel Purim Puppet Show

Sixth & I Grogger and Glow: A Purim Celebration

Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim Pirate Purim

Commemorate MLK Weekend 2018 and Tu B’Shevat 5778 in DC!

Image courtesy of Open Clip Art

Happy 2018! As this is my first post of the year, I thought I’d share a few stats from 2017. According to WordPress, JewishDC got 1,648 views and 1,173 visitors, with the largest numbers coming from the US, Israel, the UK, Canada, India and Germany. Wow! My most popular post of the year was Local Writers Explore the Theme of Unexpected Journeys at the 2017 DC Jewish Literary Festival.

Thanks so much for your support, everyone, and I look forward to a fruitful new secular year! Let’s get into some holidays and community service.

In mid to late January we have one secular and one religious holiday crop up in our midst–MLK Weekend goes from Jan 13-15 and Tu B’Shevat occurs between Jan 30 and 31. Check out ways to get involved with the local community! Note: some events may be sold out.

Please feel free to add more events in the comments.

MLK Weekend

  • Sixth & I’s Visions of Freedom and Justice. In conjunction with Turner Memorial AME church and featuring their two choirs. Also focusing on the work of Civil Rights activist Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.
  • Washington Hebrew Congregation’s MLK Shabbat and Dinner. Hosting partner churches and mosques, meant in part to honor the memories of social activists Rev Lewis Anthony and Rev Morris Shearin, Jr. Service featuring some of those who protested in 1960 at the segregated Glen Echo Amusement Park.
  • Adas Israel’s Weekend of Tikkun Olam. Featuring a Friday night Return Again Shabbat Service, dinner and a Saturday morning service with guests from the Howard University Gospel Choir and speaker Angela King, cofounder of Life After Hate.
  • Also check out Monday Days of Service with the EDCJCC!

Tu B’Shevat

  • EDCJCC’s family event, Jan 28, 10:30 am.
  • Sixth & I is offering both yoga (Jan 27, 11 am) and a seder! (Jan 30, 6:30 pm)

DC Chanukah Happenings 5778!

Dreidels in Israel / photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The multi-holiday season is upon us; weather is unseasonably warm, and people are counting the days, if they’re not there already, until they get a little time off from work or school. It’s time to fry those latkes and kindle the Chanukah lights! Local Jewish groups are rolling out the red carpet for this well-known Jewish holiday, which will take place this year from sundown Dec. 12 to sundown Dec. 20. Check these out! Feel free to add more in the comments, and chag sameach.

EDCJCC Chanukah Celebration 2017
Family friendly event, featuring a moon bounce, games, crafts, treats and more.
Sunday, December 10, 10 am, EDCJCC

Chanukah at the Ellipse
American Friends of Lubavitch starts off the holiday season with this annual ceremony on the White House lawn.
Tuesday, December 12, 4 pm, the Ellipse

Hanukkah Happy Hour (off) the Hill: Time Hop
This time-honored young adult party, still being sponsored by numerous local Jewish organizations, is moving to Decades and taking on a time travel theme!
Wednesday, December 13, 6 pm, Decades

Chanukah Community Candle Lighting
Family and all-abilities friendly event, featuring menorah lighting, dreidel spinning, latkes, donuts, games and more.
Wednesday, December 13, 6:30 pm, EDCJCC

Festival of Mics: A Chanukah Celebration
Karaoke night for young professionals with Chanukah drinks, a craft-your-own latkes bar and more!
Saturday, December 16, 8 pm, Sixth & I

I Have a Little Dreidel: An LGBTQ Family Chanukah Celebration
A chance to connect with similar families and explore Chanukah with personalized dreidels and more!
Sunday, December 17, 2 pm, EDCJCC

Zemer Chai Chanukah Concert
Choral arrangements, including Judas Maccabeus by Handel and holiday music from all around the world. The choir is joined by the Symphony of the Potomac.
Sunday, December 17, 4:30 pm, B’nai Israel Congregation

A belated ringing in of 5778

A quick and hungry crowd at Adas Israel’s break fast! / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

Even Simchat Torah is behind us now, but I’ve had some personal things keeping me away from the computer. My cat was sick throughout the High Holidays and she died shortly thereafter.

Worry for her clouded my experience this year, but there were still some other highlights of note. Including:

  • I sang again on Rosh Hashanah Day 2 with the Adas Israel flash choir! We covered Leonard Cohen’s Hal’lujah psalm as arranged by Elliot Z. Levine and this new-to-us version of Sim Shalom (though that’s not us in the video; alas, we didn’t do harmony!)
  • Rabbi Steinlauf delivered his final Yom Kippur sermon at Adas; a powerful number about the “idolatry” of scientific truth-denial and privileging narrow ideas over broad-minded empathy towards everyone. He concluded to a standing ovation.
  • With more direct mentions to President Trump, Adas’s Yom Kippur afternoon talk featured Dana Bash from CNN and Judy Woodruff from PBS NewsHour in conversation with writer and editor Frank Foer. They talked about what it’s like, as reporters, to deal with an administration that so blatantly turns to falsehoods, and they also gave personal and general advice about how the media could do better to understand “flyover country.” In response to a question about touting some more optimistic news, Dana Bash teased this project, leading newly minted co-Senior Rabbi Aaron Alexander to call his fellow co-Senior Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt “a badass woman of Washington.” 😛

What were some of your highlights from these High Holidays and the other fall holidays? Here’s to hoping, in my case, that the rest of 5778 is a little more life-affirming.

DC High Holiday Classes and Events 5778

Apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah/ image courtesy of wikipedia

L’shanah tova! A new year will be upon us in under a month—and with that, my favorite holiday. 😀 Bring on the apples and honey!

For tickets, J-Connect has in depth detail concerning fees, schedules and more for DC and area MD and VA synagogues. Gather DC focuses more specifically on young adults, and has links to services and other activities to help this cohort connect.

Washington also offers classes and events to inform you and get you in the spirit of high holidays! I’ve gathered up a few offerings from Sixth & I and the Edlavitch DCJCC, JCCNV and the Bender JCC. Please leave others in the comments!


Wednesday, September 6
The Beauty of Sephardic High Holidays, 7:30 pm, Sixth & I

Thursday, September 7 and 14
Ten Steps Toward Teshuvah, 7:45 pm, Sixth & I

Sunday, September 10
Repentance, Forgiveness, Personal Change: Entering the Days of Awe with Mechon Hadar, 2 pm, EDCJCC

Sunday, September 10
Fall into the Holidays, 2 pm, JCCNV

Monday, September 11
Go Creative for the Jewish New Year!, 2 pm, JCCNV

Tuesday, September 12
High Holiday Sampler featuring Joan Nathan and her new cookbook, King Solomon’s Table, 7 pm, Bender JCC.

Wednesday, September 13 and 27
Take on Yom Kippur, 6 pm, Sixth & I

Sunday, September 17
Community Apple Picking, 1 pm, JCCNV

Wednesday, September 20 (Erev Rosh Hashanah)
Day of Awe-Some: Exploring Rosh Hashanah, 4 pm, EDCJCC

Thursday, September 21 (Rosh Hashanah)
Apples and Honeys, 10 am, Bender JCC

Sunday, September 24
Apples for Everyone, 11 am, EDCJCC

Saturday, September 30 (Yom Kippur)
I am Sorry Day, 10 am, Bender JCC

May you have a sweet new year!