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High Holidays Contents 2022/5783

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Rabbi Spinrad's Kol Nidre Sermon

Click below to watch Rabbi Spinrad's Kol Nidre sermon:

Rabbi Spinrad's Rosh Hashanah Sermon

Click below to watch Rabbi Spinrad's sermon "If I didn't Laugh I'd Cry"

Message from Rabbi Spinrad

A LL OF US HAVE ONE fewer High Holy Days left to experience in our lives. Because of this fact, each and every year, the journey becomes a bit dearer to me. I appreciate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur a little more. Rosh Hashanah conveys to us the hope for change and the promise of renewal. With Rosh Hashanah’s central themes of malchuyot (representing the Eternal as sovereign and our concomitant responsibility to act righteously), zichronot (God’s remembrance as well as our own), and shofarot (the revelation of Torah and the importance of communicating clearly with each other), “meaning of life” questions surface as we are aroused from our slumbers by the shofar blasts. Yom Kippur follows. A solemn day of soul-searching. After focusing on our relationships with others, on Yom Kippur we turn inward. We ask for atonement from the Holy One and seek to forgive ourselves. At the end of these days, we are inscribed in the Book of Life.

Whether it is the liturgical whack! across the head of Unetaneh Tokef’s haunting question “Who will live and who will die?” or our subtle awareness that a certain be-loved member of our congregational family is not with us and no longer sits by their spouse’s side in their customary pew, the inescapable backdrop of the High Holy Days is our ever-present mortality. And yet, while the Days of Awe center “meaning of life” topics on the Jewish calendar, true also are the words of Rabbi Eliezer, who taught in Pirke Avot, “Repent (make teshuvah) one day before your death.” The Talmud expands on Eliezer’s statement. It teaches that the indeterminacy of existence should lead us to make teshuvah every day, because we never know which day will be our last. In other words, the High Holy Days are an obvious time to consider life’s biggest questions and decisions, but major conversations can happen all year long. The right time to attempt to answer “What matters most to me?” is any time we enjoy the presence of family and friends who care about us.

While our collective passage through the High Holy Days is a spiritual journey, the occasion may also be helpful in addressing the question “What matters most to me?” in the realm of our physical health and end-of-life decision making. Who knows our answers to the question, how well have we articulated our end of life wishes, and where are our answers recorded?

One guiding tool to consider using is The Conversation Project (, a helpful online resource that guides individuals and families through thinking about what matters and planning, starting, and continuing conversations with questions such as “What does a good day look like?” or “What or who supports us during difficult times?” or finishing the sentence “What matters to me through the end of my life is…” The Conversation Project helps us to identify how much medical information we want to receive, who will make our medical decisions, and helps us to answer some of the tough-est life questions such as: “If I were seriously ill or near the end of my life, how much medical treatment would I feel was right for me?” Additionally, The Conversation Project helps us and our families to better understand how to choose and how to serve as a health care proxy, a guide to talking with a health care team, and so much more.

From the deepest reaches of my soul I pray that we each be inscribed in the Book of Life in 5783, but a little insurance doesn’t hurt. Peace of mind counts. May you be inscribed for life in the coming year, and may we all also have the courage to overcome the fear of death enough to clarify what matters most and to share our desires with those who love us the most.

— Rabbi Spinrad


Message from Temple President, Alan Cohn

Welcome to our September-October double Bulletin issue. I will let you in on a little secret about writing presidential Bulletin columns. Throughout the year, I re-read my old columns that correspond with my new columns as the calendar progresses. It helps to re-mind me what I previously wrote about so as to not re-peat, as well as helping me stay knowledgeable about the myriad of Beth El activities I should be trying to high-light.

So, my column from this time last year was filled with optimism about our Covid reawakening. Same as this year. (Check.) Planning is under way for The High Holiday schedule as it is just around the corner. (Check.) Building improvements and touch ups are being per-formed as the summer ends, readying for our return. (Check.) Family and friends are coordinating to join us for the services. (Check, check, and check.) Like Yogi Berra said, “it’s déjà vu all over again.” And it feels good and normal.

We at Beth El strive to be a place for all who seek connection, meaning, and healing. We do this by showing these values through lived actions. Through our various committees, organizations, and auxiliaries we provide year-round opportunities for our members to meet, greet, eat, and live our Jewish values. We truly have something for everyone.

Sometimes it’s hard to get a full picture of the connections being made at Beth El so let me tell you about a few. Our preschool continues to operate nearly all year long. Tot Shabbats are once again meeting in person. The Religious School has returned to an enrollment level that exceeds our pre-pandemic enrollment. The WRJ gift shop is open and operating with a near normal schedule. We are on track for honoring 14 B’nei Mitzvah this year. Bridge and mah jong are back, gaming in person. The Rhoda Goldman Memorial Book Sale is returning in February, bigger and better than ever. The Brotherhood will continue to have excellent Bagels and Banter sessions, speaker-driven programming, and put on the best Purim Carnival in the spring. We have an ever-expanding calendar at Beth El of in-person programming and hope that each of you will find some way to connect to and with Beth El.

But all of these activities, building upkeep, and staff salaries take money to accomplish. During my Rosh Hashanah speech from the bimah, you are bound to hear a more direct appeal to donate to our annual Beth El High Holiday Fundraising Appeal. This is our most important annual fundraising drive.

Since the pandemic hit, we need these monies more than ever to help fill a large gap in our annual operating budget. Particular historical revenue streams we used to be able to count on are gone and our dues collections won’t cover the shortfall. Our goal for this year’s High Holiday Fundraiser appeal is a strong one, $50,000. We would not have set such an ambitious target if we didn’t really need the funds. These are critical monies to help balance our budget. Every dollar helps as we try to rebuild and to reconnect.

All of these sustained efforts help Beth El fulfill her mission of becoming, a sacred Jewish community for all who seek connection, meaning, and healing.

Alan Cohn


High Holiday Service Schedule



Reserve and Purchase Tickets Here!

Kol Nidre Fundraising Goal




Kol Nidre Pledge

Make Your Pledge Here: 


We are all excited about the upcoming High Holidays and the year ahead. The Kol Nidre Appeal is a large part of our budget and we are hoping to exceed our goals.
We have three goals for this appeal. 
1. We seek 100% participation. 
2. As a community, we seek to raise a minimum of $50,000, higher than last year's goal of $45,000.  
3. We ask all families to consider increasing their support, every contribution makes a difference.


Bulletin Greetings

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High Holidays Bulletin Greetings
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Extend greetings to your friends in the Beth El community by placing a New Year’s greeting in the November/December issue of the Beth El Bulletin. See below for format options.
Best one to reach you at if we have questions
Best one to reach you at if we have questions
Option 1: List of Names
Names are first name first but are sorted in alphabetical order by last name
Option 2: Simple Box
You may submit your own wording. If you leave this blank, we will use "Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!"
Names are first name first but are sorted in alphabetical order by last name
Option 3: Box with Symbol
You may submit your own wording. If you leave this blank, we will use "Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!"
Names are first name first but are sorted in alphabetical order by last name

Option 4: Box with Photograph

You may submit your own wording. If you leave this blank, we will use "Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!"
Names are first name first but are sorted in alphabetical order by last name
Send black and white photo to or upload directly to Shul Cloud at right.  Or send color photo, but know that we print the Bulletin in black and white.
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Community Break Fast

Join us at the conclusion of N'ilah for a traditional dairy break fast.  Tuna salad, whitefish salad, egg salad, plain and vegetable cream cheese, sliced cheeses, tomato, red onion and cucumber; assorted fresh bagels and hearty rye bread and noodle kugels and rugelach.  

Reservations are required so that we can order enough food.

There is no charge to attend this event but donations are appreciated!  There is a $10/per person suggested donation for those able to help cover the expense of this community event.

Click Here to RSVP

Handicapped Parking and Seating

Handicapped Parking and Seating:

As in past years, our parking lot cannot accommodate everyone during the High Holidays. Additional parking has been arranged with the Virginia Theological Seminary, across Seminary Road at 3737 Seminary Road. Let’s be good neighbors and obey neighborhood parking signs and restricted or private parking spaces. Improperly parked cars will be ticketed or towed at the owner’s expense. Additional handicapped parking spaces will be available in our lot. Individuals without a state issued handicap tag, members who cannot walk long distances, and members who do not have a driver to drop them off at the entrance may obtain a handicap parking space by calling the office or requesting one online.

Click Here to Request Handicapped Parking and/or Seating


Security is paramount during the High Holidays.  A police presence will be visible on Seminary Road and at the entrance to the building. They will monitor cars entering the parking lot. Police will also assist pedestrians and traffic crossing Seminary Road.

Please do not bring backpacks or large bags into the building. We reserve the right to check all bags. As always, if you have questions, or specific needs, please do not hesitate to call the office at (703) 370- 9400, and we will be happy to assist you.

Usher Volunteer Form

Sun, December 3 2023 20 Kislev 5784