Jewish Identity

Whether your Jewish journey began years ago or yesterday, discover how Federation can empower you to deepen your connection to Jewish community, values, culture and tradition.


college students from 11 Hillels are supported by our community through Jewish resources, holiday celebrations, and community building.

At Gallaudet University Hillel, students are building their Jewish identity in ways that are meaningful, and fully accessible, to them.

“When students have access and exposure to Jewish experiences, they can see a variety of Jewish identities, ways to be involved, and leadership opportunities available to them. Then they’re empowered to connect in in the ways most meaningful to them.”   

— Rhea Kennedy Morgenstern, 2015-2017 Board Chair, Hillel at Gallaudet University

Meet Jennifer F.

Her search for a sense of family while away at school guided her to University of Maryland’s Campus Hillel. Jennifer shares how that involvement shaped the trajectory of her Jewish journey as a young adult.

“At age 18, I left home for the University of Maryland. I loved all that the large, vibrant campus had to offer, but I missed the close sense of community I felt back home. I went to visit the campus Hillel and it quickly became my home away from home—expanding my Jewish identity in ways I could never imagine while away at school. The work each Hillel does is critical to ensuring that Jewish students have access to Jewish continuity on campus, an impact that transcends far beyond our Hillel years, just as it did for me.

“Donors to Federation make it possible for students like me to not only feel at home on our college campuses, but to find a community that can nurture and enrich our lives in ways other groups are unable to.”

Read her story

“I was in college when I truly began my Jewish journey. I joined a synagogue, studied in Israel and worked at a Jewish organization, but I was still missing a network of Jewish peers. By living in a Moishe House and organizing innovative and engaging programs for Jewish young adults in Northern Virginia, I have found my community and the missing puzzle piece in my Jewish identity.”

—Emily M.

“Throughout my Jteen experience, I have not only learned how to be a philanthropist, but most importantly, I have also learned how our Jewish values can influence the way we help others. At Jteen, I was able to channel both my love for helping others with the love for Judaism I carry with me.”

— Mira F.



families strengthen their connections to Jewish values through educational, creative and meaningful community programming for parents and children.

PJ Library® in Greater Washington

PJ Library in Greater Washington would not be possible without Federation’s commitment to serving the full community. We work to go beyond the books to offer almost 400 family programs annually to bring our community together. ambassadors

“When we started a family, we knew almost no one Jewish in Northern Virginia. I had no idea the impact the ambassadors program would make to our lives over the last couple years. The feeling of being welcomed into a Jewish community I didn’t even know existed was so amazing! This program has enriched our lives more than we could have ever imagined.”

— Cheryl K.


members of our community have established a stronger connection to Israel through their relationship with Federation’s Congregational Shlichim (emissaries).

Transforming our Communal Relationship with Israel

In 2002, The Jewish Federation welcomed our first Israeli emissary to Greater Washington through The Jewish Agency for Israel. Recognizing the tremendous success and the deep connection our community members have formed with Israel and Israelis through relationships with the shlichim (Israeli emissaries), Federation has proudly and significantly increased our investment in our Congregational Shlichim Program, expanding the role of these emissaries in our community.

“For people who have struggled to find community in their parents’ synagogues, it was refreshing to be part of a program that strives to develop Jewish community reflective of our generation. Honeymoon Israel gave us the unique opportunity to forge bonds with other couples looking to create a space to grow as Jews in Washington in our own way.”

— Ruth R.


“Honeymoon Israel was of the best experiences of my life. The connections we both formed with our new Jewish community have reinvigorated my love for my culture and given my husband a confidence in claiming his relationship with Judaism that I only wished was possible.”

—Kendra R.

$43,000+ in grants were awarded to families enabling their children to experience Jewish overnight camp for the first time.

2,000 community members are more engaged with Israel by listening to Federation’s Imagine Israel podcast series and attending Changemaker Series programs.

170 families in search of a welcoming community have had one-on-one meetings with ambassadors to help connect them to a Jewish network of families.

“Federation has enriched my life by connecting me to mentors in the community, friends with similar values, and empowering leadership opportunities. It’s make me a more engaged citizen of the Jewish community and a more intentional philanthropist. It’s helped root me more permanently in DC, a transient city, by anchoring me in such a strong community.”   

— Jamie P.