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Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. - The Talmud

Beth El Refugee Assistance Committee

In 2017, the Beth El Refugee Assistance Committee formed to provide support to an Afghan refugee family who has not only settled well into Northern Virginia, but also are now proud United States citizens. We also work with NOVA RAFT (Resettling Afghan Families Together), a grassroots Northern Virginia coalition that has set up nearly 300 homes for Afghan refugees in the area.

We are now helping the Naziri family, who left Kabul in 2021 to flee the Taliban takeover, leaving everything they owned behind. In addition to financial assistance for rent and furnishing their apartment, Beth El members help with finding work, providing rides, enrolling in school, and understanding and navigating the  complex and often confusing aspects of life in America. 

We welcome your contributions of time, expertise, and financial support. For more information about the committee or how you can help, contact the committee chair, Linda Waller at To donate, click here (choose “Refugee Assistance Fund” under Type of Donation) or send a check care of the Beth El office to the Refugee Assistance Fund.


WRJ has been supporting the Alexandria Domestic Violence Program (ADVP) for many years. ADVP is dedicated to empowering Alexandria residents by working for equality, safety and access to opportunities and services through advocacy and education. ADVP is dedicated to fair, compassionate and respectful treatment of ALL people regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

For more information, click here or contact Janet Garber at



Beth El has been a member-congregation of ALIVE! since its beginning in 1969. ALIVE! is the largest private safety net for Alexandrians living in poverty. More than 700 volunteers a year help with ALIVE!’s seven programs: Child Development Center (StepALIVE! Walkathon); Food Program (High Holy Day Food Drive); Family Emergency Program (Tzedakah Tzunday); Last Saturday Food Distribution (Bin of Bounty); Furniture; Housewares (Feb. Drive); ALIVE! House Shelter (Tzedakah Tzunday). (Parenthetical projects are BEHC efforts.)
For more information click here or contact Don Cohen or Jennie Geisner.   


Carpenter’s Shelter

WRJ has supported Carpenter’s Shelter in the City of Alexandria for decades. Carpenter’s comprehensive continuum of care offers services aiding the chronically homeless and shelter residents through their transition back into independent living.

Beth El has two groups providing meals. WRJ cooks and serves dinner the fourth Monday of every month. Esther Belenker,, coordinates shopping, cooking, and serving. WRJ provides funding. Susan Wartel,, coordinates Beth El volunteers to donate and serve nutritious hot lunches the fourth Sunday every other month.   

For more information, click hereTo volunteer, contact Karen or Susan.

Chapel in the Woods

Beth El members are proud of the strides we have made in rehabilitating our two-acre acidic oak-hickory forest that lies behind our synagogue. Housing a “Chapel in the Woods,” this retreat serves as a place of quiet meditation, services, and prayer--and a site for teaching children about nature, playing, taking a hike, and observing wildlife. There has even been a wedding in our Chapel in the Woods.

For more information and lots of photographs, click here.


Friends of Guest House

WRJ has been working to build a strong relationship with Friends of Guest House for several years. Last year residents of Guest House both helped serve at and attended events at BEHC. This fall, Guest House provided a Shabbat speaker.

Friends of Guest House helps women successfully reenter the community from incarceration. Since its founding in 1974, Guest House has helped more than 4,000 women break the vicious cycle of incarceration, reunite with their families, and reintegrate into their communities.
For more information, click here or contact Janet Garber at



On a Sunday each spring, members of Beth El Hebrew Congregation and other civic and faith communities from the area gather together to prepare Oral Rehydration Therapy packets. Each packet contains sugar, salt, baking soda, and potassium. The packets are shipped to a country where residents are suffering from diseases like cholera or dysentery which result in dehydration. We supply them with the electrolytes needed to allow the body to retain fluids and become rehydrated thus saving lives.

The process is easy. People sit around a table and some participants put a spoonful of the four ingredients into a paper cup. The contents are then put into a sterilization bag which is sealed by another volunteer. Then 50 – 100 packets are then put into a resealable plastic bag and these are put into cardboard boxes and readied for shipping. As you can tell, this takes very little skill which allows the volunteers the chance to talk to each other and/or get to know each other.

This project has a two-fold positive result:

  • We are doing an uncomplicated process that has a very positive result for those who are in need of help. A highlight has always been when one of the volunteers tells us that they were in a foreign country where they saw these packets in use.
  • In addition, we are building relationships among people from various faiths and neighborhoods and backgrounds. In fact, many long-term friendships have been forged at one of our events.

  So we are both improving the world and our community.

Tue, June 18 2024 12 Sivan 5784