woman reading Bagels from Benny to 2 girls in pajamas

Jewish Identity

Establishing a Jewish identity is a lifelong journey. Discover how Federation invigorates Jewish life for all community members, offering a multitude of opportunities for connection and for discovering how they can live a life infused with Jewish meaning.

PJ Library® in Greater Washington

Federation proudly brings PJ Library and PJ Our Way to Greater Washington, connecting 7,691 families with young children (ages 0-11) to Jewish life, one another, and our larger community. Each month, children enrolled in these programs receive free Jewish books as a gift from Federation, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, and other generous donors. Each title is carefully selected to encourage family discussions around Jewish values and traditions.

Beyond being a great reason to snuggle up for a bedtime story, PJ Library serves as a catalyst for families to feel at home in our larger community — meeting and coming together with other parents and children for storytime, volunteer opportunities, holiday celebrations, and more.

family reading PJ Library book


local families with children ages 0-11 receive PJ Library and PJ Our Way books each month.

j.family ambassadors

For families with young children living in Northern Virginia (NoVA),the j.family ambassadors initiative makes the NoVA Jewish community more welcoming, inviting, and accessible by connecting families to Jewish programming, resources, and to each other.

The program is fully funded by Federation and presented in partnership with the JCC of Northern Virginia. It will expand in the coming year to Montgomery County and Washington, DC, in partnership with the Bender JCC of Greater Washington and the Edlavitch DCJCC.

two j.family ambassadors participants and child with Hebrew place mat

“When we started a family, we knew almost no one Jewish in Northern Virginia. I had no idea the impact the j.family 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.

participant, j.family ambassadors


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

j.family ambassador participants talking over coffee, j.family ambassadors welcome bag

JTeen Philanthropy

Federation’s Jteen Philanthropy goes beyond a simple tzedakah (charity) lesson or fundraising project. By engaging teens in collective philanthropic giving, this program helps youth understand the Jewish obligation of tzedakah on a deeper level and provides them with an opportunity to make a direct impact on the world.

By engaging teens in collective philanthropic giving, Federation’s Jteen Philanthropy helps teens understand the Jewish obligation of tzedakah on a deeper level, through the opportunity to collaborate, debate, and allocate funds to make a direct impact within their community and the world around them.

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

— Mira F.

graduate, Jteen Philanthropy

teens presenting check to DC safe

3 volunteers gardening on Good Deeds Day


members of our community gave back through 150 volunteer opportunities on Federation’s Sara & Samuel J. Lessans Good Deeds Day 2018.

3 young women in Washington Nationals apparel and Hebrew baseball caps


community members joined Federation at Grand Slam Sunday: Jewish Community Day at Nationals Park in 2018.


Federation supports Hillel on 11 college campuses across the Greater Washington area, providing 18,000+ college students with Jewish resources, holiday celebrations, and community building opportunities.

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

Moishe House

Moishe House, a Federation partner, enables young adults in their 20s to create meaningful, home-based Jewish experiences for themselves and their peers. Moishe House provides rent subsidies and program budgets to its millennial residents, who then use their home to create their ideal Jewish communal space.

3 Moishe House Northern Virginia residents

“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.

Moishe House Northern Virginia resident

4 campers in front of tent


in grants will enable local children to experience Jewish overnight camp for the first time.

4 USY participants


teens enjoy Jewish programming and leadership development through local youth groups.

University of Maryland Hillel students holding UMD flag


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

Honeymoon Israel

Honeymoon Israel, empowered by funding from Federation, provides trip to Israel for couples with at least one Jewish partner, but the journey does not end when couples return. After the trip, participants are encouraged to build and strengthen their new community of peers. Locally, alumni groups are organizing Chanukah parties, Passover seders, Shabbat dinners, volunteer projects, and more — forging Jewish community and discovering meaningful ways to incorporate Judaism into their lives.

“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.