Sign up for our free newsletter

Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.

Cleveland Park

Rabbi

Jeffrey A. Wohlberg

Congregation Size

approximately 1,800 families

Shabbat Morning Service Length

three hours (included two bat mitzvahs)

Sample Worshipper Dress

purple mesh blouse, black pants, high heels

Bag Searches

1

Languages Spoken During Service

4

Congregational Fervor

Shabbat morning service begins bright and early at 9:30 with a series of “warm-up prayers” meant to prepare attendees for deeper worship. This preliminary service is based around the Talmudic ruling that “[o]ne should not rise to pray from a mood of sadness…but rather with a sense of joy.” On a recent Saturday, a number of congregants were joyous enough to miss this portion of the service, arriving as much as 30 minutes after proceedings began.

Food for the Soul

In a recent sermon, Wohlberg used his time to note the 40th anniversary of the Catholic Church’s document Nostra Aetate. Admitting that he had felt some disdain for church prior to the Second Vatican Council, Wohlberg recounted how his opinions began to soften with Pope Paul VI’s 1965 proclamation, which formally recognized that the Jews were not responsible for the death of Jesus Christ.

Food for the Body

If you’re feeling famished after three hours of continuous worship, Adas Israel Congregation will not abandon you in the throes of bottoming blood-sugar levels. A recent post-service gathering offered a variety of carb-laden treats: sprinkle cookies, brownies, fresh fruits, and assorted bagels.

Overall Worship Power Rating

Midway through the service, Wohlberg took some time to engage the congregation in discussion, asking, “What makes Judaism special? What makes it unique?” After deftly addressing several suggestions, he brought his point home by answering that Judaism was about holy community: “There are no holy hermits in Judaism,” he said. “Through engagement, we make things better.”

—Aaron Leitko