15 September 2023
As Rosh Hashanah begins this evening, I wish you and yours a very healthy, happy, and meaningful New Year and High Holiday season.
On September 10th, Jewish Greater Washington lost a true community leader, trail blazer, and spiritual guide, Rabbi Matthew H. Simon, z”l. For many, he was a confidante, a colleague, a teacher, a friend, and an advisor, leading community members through challenges and life’s transitions.
Rabbi Simon was the consummate Jewish communal leader. As the first pulpit rabbi to serve as president of a major Jewish Federation, he brought a unique and thoughtful lens that was reflected in every role he played during his incredible lifetime and inspiring career. Rabbi Simon also held the community leadership role of President of the Washington Board of Rabbis and gave generously of his time and wisdom on the boards of numerous local and national human service and educational agencies.
In his professional life, Rabbi Simon was the cherished Senior Rabbi of B’nai Israel Congregation for decades, from March 1973 until August 2002. He also served as a Navy Chaplain and retired as a Captain after 28 years of service.
As we begin the High Holiday season, I recall Rabbi Simon’s teaching on the importance of hearing and listening from Erev Rosh Hashanah 5782 (2021), which feels as relevant today as it did two years ago. His sage advice that we must listen to those who challenge our views, open our minds and hearts to new ideas to meet the evolving needs of our community, and truly hear one another in order to build and deepen relationships continues to resonate as we build Jewish life in Greater Washington.
I am deeply grateful for all Rabbi Simon taught me personally and for the legacy he leaves for our Greater Washington Jewish community. We will miss him dearly, and all of us at Federation extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and congregants.
May all who loved and admired Rabbi Simon be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, may his enduring wisdom and legacy continue to inspire us, and may his memory be for a blessing.
Shabbat Shalom and Shanah Tovah,