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Hesed Committee

Hesed: Caring For Our Community

Hesed Committee

Adas Israel invites anyone interested in creating a caring community to become involved in the many activities of the Hesed Committee.  The committee focuses on Acts of Loving Kindness to help meet life challenges among our members.  Hesed is a vital part of building community at Adas.  One day you might be helping someone in our community.  The next day you might need help yourself and the community is there for you.  Hesed provides both the joy of giving and receiving. If you have any questions please contact Hesed Committee Chairperson, Rae Grad (

Hesed Mission

Olam Hesed Yibaneh – Adas Israel Hesed Committee Mission Statement

The Hesed Committee at Adas Israel is committed to fostering a caring, compassionate, and support giving community.  Our sacred obligation is to help identify, understand, reach out to, and lovingly support community members in moments of joy, pain, and/or grief.

In this way, we’ll not only pursue fulfilling the immediate supportive needs of Adas members, but also simultaneously build a sustainable community-web of loving kindness that touches all centers and corners of the community.  

Acts of Loving Kindness

Building on our vision of creating a caring community at Adas Israel, the Hesed Committee is a collaborative effort of our clergy, staff and volunteers to reach out to Adas members who are alone, convalescing and/or infirm or newly arrived.   Our goal is to ensure that all members of our community have an opportunity to have regular, friendly and personal contact with fellow congregants.  The resulting relationships enrich the entire community.

Hesed Learning

Hesed Committee volunteers will meet periodically with Rabbi Holtzblatt and others on our clergy team to learn more about the mitzvah of gemilut hasadim (giving of loving kindness), and Torah lessons to underscore the importance of this work.  The Torah has a lot to say about this topic.  At these learning sessions, volunteers can discuss their experiences connecting with other congregants and to create fellowship among themselves.   From time to time, guest speakers are invited to address the group on different topics. 

Hesed in the News!

Delicious Acts of Kindness Build Community 
by Susan Barocas, Jewish Food Experience

Upcoming Hesed Events

Outdoor Honey Cake Bake-a-thon!

Sunday, September 6 at 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Click Here to Register!

Join us on Sunday, September 6, at 4:30pm for this year’s Outdoor Honey Cake Bake-A-Thon when we will again produce over 200 honey cakes. The Adas parking lot will be set up with socially distanced tables. Individuals and small groups of no more than four people who are social distancing together will be assigned a table with ingredients and equipment on each table.    MASKS ARE ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED THE ENTIRE TIME YOU ARE ON SYNAGOGUE PROPERTY. 

Pre-registration by September 1 is required. We cannot accommodate any bakers under 13 years old.

For several years, volunteers with Hesed’s Cooking Team have produced hundreds of cakes while enjoying a gathering of fun and camaraderie. All the many recipients – new members, homebound, seniors over 80, people who are sick or in mourning - have felt the hesed, delicious lovingkindness delivered along with their honey cake. We can’t let a pandemic stop us from continuing this sweet tradition, so we figured out how to do our honey cake baking this year – in the Adas parking lot!  

Please note:

  • Registration is very limited by the size of the parking lot, so please be certain you will attend before registering. If registration is full, email Rae Grad to be put on the waiting list.
  • If for some unexpected reason, you cannot attend the Bake-a-Thon, please notify Rae immediately so someone else can take your spot. No shows will have a big negative impact. We need all the baking spots full to produce the needed number of cakes.
  • We absolutely cannot accommodate any bakers under 13 years old. This is a self-directed Hesed cooking experience, so experienced bakers preferred.
  • The parking lot will NOT be accessible for cars. Please plan to park on the street
  • Registrants will receive more specific instructions including the exact amounts of the ingredients that we are asking you to bring -- flour, sugar, oil and honey. We will provide the additional ingredients pre-measured at each cooking station.
  • Come prepared with a hat, sunscreen and water.

The event happens weather permitting. Rain date is Monday, September 7.


Hesed in the Time of Pandemic - Summer Ideas

Click Here to View a List of Ideas on How To Do Hesed

Dear Friends – someone asked since we cannot gather in person and we need to continue to keep social distancing, how can we do Hesed, especially during the hot summer months? Rest assured, Hesed never sleeps! There are many creative activities you and your family can do to continue our mission of creating a loving, connected community – even when we can’t be physically together.

The Adas Israel Hesed Committee brings you this list of creative ideas of how you can ‘do Hesed’ over the summer. It’s really easy. You think of someone you want to share some love and connection with and then do something. Here are some ideas of what you can do. If you think of other ideas, please let us know. We want the list to grow. And please share your Hesed stories with us so we can send out an inspirational summary. 


Hesed Grief Counseling Workshops 

More Dates Coming Soon

You are invited to participate in the new series of Hesed Grief Counseling Workshops starting in February. Whether you have experienced the loss of a loved one, or perhaps an unexpected life event, or just feeling like you would like to talk about challenges you are facing, please join us for these sessions. You can join one or both sessions. There is no cost.


End of Life Conversations, Part II - a 3 part series

More Dates Coming Soon

Following last year’s successful experience, the Adas Israel Hesed and Bereavement Committees are announcing a new 3-part series: End of Life Conversations, Part II. These sessions are uplifting, intellectually stimulating and practical. How we want to die represents the most important and costly conversation we aren’t having. Conversations are geared to all ages. Sessions are not restricted to Adas members and there is no cost but registration is requested. Please join us for any or all of the session but register for each session individually.


Hesed Cooking Event

New Date Coming Soon!

If you would like to cook with kavanah (the Hebrew word for direction/intention/purpose), please join us! Keep in mind that these events fill up quickly. If you would like to be placed on the waiting list, please email

Because of the planning and food purchase involved, we ask that you sign up only if you are as sure as possible that you can participate. It is also helpful when you let us know in advance if you signed up, but are unable to attend because of unforeseen circumstances. Volunteers must be 16 years of age or older.


Lev B’Lev Letter-Writing Team joins Interfaith Action for Human Rights (IAHR): Pen Pal Program for Prisoners

In addition to writing letters of solidarity to those who have experienced hate crimes, the Lev B’Lev Letter Writing Team has joined with IAHR, an interfaith organization representing people of different faiths in the Washington, DC, region to write letters to DC residents who are incarcerated in the Bureau of Prisons. IAHR Executive Director Rabbi Charles Feinberg’s new effort addresses the isolation that incarcerated DC residents experience in prisons located far away from home. More than 4,600 DC residents are sent to 122 Bureau of Prisons facilities around the country, making it particularly difficult for them to maintain supportive relationships and reintegrate into their communities upon their release. IAHR’S Pen Pal Program asks volunteers to correspond with one imprisoned DC resident at least once a month for one year. For more information about this rewarding and enlightening experience or to join us, contact Ruth Kleinrock.

Hesed Teams

Guided by our clergy team, our Hesed volunteers have many ways to become involved in Hesed activities. There is something for everyone. You can help as little or as much as your schedule allows. There is an activity for YOU. To sign up or receive more information, please contact

If you share your bread with the hungry, And relieve the afflicted soul – Then shall your light rise in the darkness And you shall raise up the foundations of many generations. Isaiah, 58:7.

Hesed Visits Team

The Hesed Visit Team enhances the lives of elderly, homebound or ill members of the Adas community by creating a stronger connection to the community through regular visits.  This simple expression of caring through conversation benefit both those who visit and those who are visited.  The visits can be a one-time activity or on-going depending upon the what is needed. 
Hesed Visit Team Chair: Betsy Strauss.


Hesed Meals Team

The Hesed Meals Team provides meals to members who may be recuperating from surgery or a short-term illness.  Meals are coordinated through the Meal Train website which outlines meal delivery times and food preferences. Volunteers who prefer not to cook the food but still want to provide a meal can do so by purchasing a catered meal that can be delivered to the member. 
Hesed Meals Team Co-Chairs: Janet Scribner and Edna Povich, and Mary Hammer (Baby Meal Train Coordinator).

Hesed Phone Team

Got a phone and have a few minutes to spare? Want to make a big difference in helping build and sustain community? With a few minutes and your phone, you can make someone alone feel connected.  Here's how…join the Adas Israel Phone Team and help make a weekly erev Shabbat telephone call to a homebound member to let them know, they are remembered.  Individuals who are called are extremely grateful to be contacted. 
Phone Team Co-Team Leaders: Harriet Isack & Laura Ginns.

Hesed Baskets Team

The Hesed Baskets team provides Adas members with a caring and welcoming surprise basket for special life moments.   Join us in delivering gift bags of goodies to families celebrating the birth of new babies and to welcome those who have recently become members of our community. We hope to expand our reach in the future to other types of recipients.  Please share your creativity and generosity with us by joining our team. 
Hesed Basket Team Co-Chairs: Michael Fingerhut and Gilbert Holland.


Bereavement/ Sisterhood Team

Adas Israel mourns the loss of our loved ones…
We encourage our members to consider using the help of our Bereavement Committee for funeral arrangements.
Click Here to Learn More about Bereavement and the comfort you can find in this sacred community. 

When death occurs, please call the synagogue at 202-362-4433, so that we may inform the clergy and assist you.
Bereavement/ Sisterhood Co-Chairs: Pamela Sislen and Anat Bar-Cohen.

Hesed Committee Cooking Team

Join fellow Adas members for a fun evening of baking challah and sweet treats. The food we make will be stored in our community freezer to give to members in need, such as those who are ill or recovering from an accident or surgery, to shivah homes and to people juggling demands of a new baby. Hesed Cooking Chairs: Susan Barocas and Alexandra Taylor.


Lev B'Lev

Lev B'Lev (LBL, English: Heart to Heart) is a Hesed and Social Action initiative that involves the congregation in extending constructive compassion to people of all faiths targeted with hate and in creating cohesion within the Washington, DC interfaith community on approaches to eradicating hate and replacing it with love and kindness. LBL launches at a time in our country when hate and the response to it is dominating the news. To get involved with our Speaker Series, letter writing, interfaith initiatives and more, please contact Bruce Charendoff, LBL Chair.

Hesed L’Dor V’Dor Project

The Hesed L’Dor V’Dor Project will connect Adas members of all ages in ways that promote and strengthen our community.
Team leader: Janice Mostow

Link with Social Action Council

On occasion, as with a prior Bone Marrow Drive, the Hesed Committee and the Social Action Council will work together on a project.   The Adas Social Action Council is involved in a variety of interesting and important community service and social justice activities.  You can find more information about SAC here.

Fri, September 25 2020 7 Tishrei 5781