City Paper is not for tourists
M. Bruce Lustig
Sample Worshipper Dress
black jacket and skirt with pink pinstripes, pink shawl
Washington Hebrew Congregation recently celebrated its 15th annual Mitzvah Day with the presentation of a short film during the evening Shabbat service. It showcased footage of congregation members working diligently on community-service projects over a reggae soundtrack. Standing beside an assembly line staffed by small children, one woman explained the purpose of their labors: “We’re making happy hats, which the children then decorate with happy thoughts. The hats are then given to kids in the hospital, who then have happy thoughts.”
Food for the Soul
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, many congregants traveled to New Orleans to aid in the recovery effort. In the spirit of Mitzvah Day, several were called in front of the congregation to share their experiences. “Nothing could prepare me for the sights I was about to see, the odors I was about to smell, the emotions I was about to feel,” began one young man’s testimony.
Food for the Body
Although Shabbat dinner had been served earlier in the evening, post-service snacks were bountiful. The spread included dried fruit, cheese, almonds, brownies, and a large Mitzvah Day cake.
Overall Worship Power
Along with its dedication to community service, Washington Hebrew Congregation offers a keen sense of theatricality. As the service came to a close, those in attendance bowed their heads as the two giant and seemingly stationary commandment tablets behind the bimah suddenly parted in the center, briefly revealing the Torah scrolls before gliding closed.