Refresh this Sabbath, Say Thanks, Explore Israeli Culture

Refresh this Sabbath, Say Thanks, Explore Israeli Culture

Steve RakittGood morning,

This week’s parasha is the first of the Book of Exodus, and begins, “These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob…” By listing the names, a strong link is created between the patriarchs of Genesis and the protagonists of Exodus; from family album to the development of a nation.

Names are crucial. The very first action taken by Adam is the naming of the creatures in the Garden of Eden. A bris or baby-naming establishes the identity of a newborn and creates a powerful connection to the Jewish people and to our families. It is fitting, therefore, that the Exodus story begins with a link to the past as well as the identities of those who will lead us to freedom. Moses is named as the (reluctant) leader and even God reveals his name to Moses through the Burning Bush as “I Am Who I Am”.

There’s an episode of Seinfeld in which Elaine suggests to a candidate for Mayor of New York that he run on the platform that every New Yorker wear a name tag. “It would make for a much friendlier city,” she argues. Perhaps. While names may not necessarily make us friendlier, they do erase anonymity. We’ve all cringed at vitriolic online comments signed by “Bob123” or “DCLady.” Anonymity enables cowardly behavior while names ensure identity, personal standing and individualism.

And surely, leadership is never anonymous. Thus we begin the Exodus story and Moses’ emergence as the most influential leader in Jewish history.

Steven A. Rakitt, Chief Executive Officer
[email protected]

federation happenings
Shabbat Shalom, Hey!

In our fast-paced, smartphone filled, Internet obsessed society, finding time to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life can feel nearly impossible. Fortunately, one of the wonderful parts of being a Jew is our weekly call (by the Torah no less) to set aside our stresses, slow down, and relax with good friends and family. If you are looking for the Shabbat experience that caters to your age, interest or locale, check out some of these opportunities around town:

  • Shabbat Hoppin’: Young Leadership of The Jewish Federation hosts this series of Shabbat programming for young professionals in various locations around the Greater Washington area throughout the year. Join them on January 30 in partnership with NOVA Tribe Series.
  • Torah Tots: A Shabbat program for parents and their young children to celebrate together. Occurs weekly at Beth Shalom Congregation in Columbia, MD.
  • Return Again Shabbat: A reflective Shabbat experience for the soul. Occurs every month at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, DC. Join them tonight, Friday, January 9.
  • Find more at

We just want to Say Thanks!

Gratitude, appreciation, gratefulness, thanks. That’s why we’re callin’. At The Jewish Federation we have a lot to be thankful for and on Sunday, January 25, we hope you will join us at or answer the phone during Sayin’ Thanks a new, innovative dial-a-thon where our community will come together simply to express gratitude to the nearly 10,000 incredible donors who make our work possible. Join us!

Explore Israel’s Melting Pot

Looking for ways to explore more about Judaism, meet new people and be a philanthropist? The Federation’s Israel Engagement Department is presenting a series of four sessions about Israeli culture and the chance for participants to choose an Israel-based philanthropy project to support. Two extraordinary teachers, Pnina Agenyahu (The Federation’s Shlicha) and Shelley Kedar (Director of Jewish Agency for Israel and Campus Israel Fellows at Hillel International) will lead the course. Learn more about the diverse cultures that make up Israel’s “melting pot” beginning Wednesday, January 14.

Ways to make it yours

  • Be a part of a Jewish-Catholic interfaith conversation, Commemorating 50th Anniversary of Nostra Aetate & Chasing Peace, at Adas Israel Congregation on Tuesday, January 20.
  • Check out Jewish Music Classes for Little Ones with Ms. Ellie Music on Thursday, January 15 through Thursday, March 12 (by pre-registration only).
  • On Sunday, January 25th we are giving a ring just to say thanks! Join us for our first ever thank-a-thon or answer the call so we can share our appreciation for your support.
  • Learn more about Foundation for Jewish Camp’s (FJC) Bunk Connect program to see how your family can get financial support for Jewish summer camp this year.