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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

Hesed Committee Cooking Event

Tuesday, May 14 @ 6:30pm Register Here

Calling All Cooks: Please join us on Tuesday May 14 at 6:30 PM for our next Hesed cooking event. We are thrilled that some of the food we are making will be donated to the TraRon Center, an important organization founded by Ryane Nickens ( who has been a past MLK speaker at Adas) that provides support and after school activities for children in Ward 8 who have been exposed to gun violence. We are fortunate that one of our regular Hesed cookers, Lois Fingerhut, is on the board of the TraRon Center and has made this arrangement possible. Ryane will be joining us to share more about the Center. In the meantime please visit to learn more about their important work.

Participating in Hesed is a great way to meet new people while you cook delicious and healthy food that will be stored in our Hesed freezer to be delivered to Adas members who are sick, have a new baby, or just need a little Hesed loving kindness. 

Attendance is limited to 20 individuals so sign up soon! For people on the waiting list, we will notify you asap if a slot opens up.



Conversations About End Of Life Issues

Session 1: Sunday, February 3, 10 AM to noon
Session 2: Sunday, March 24, 10:00 AM to noon Register Here

Session 3: Sunday, May 19, 10:00 AM to noon Register Here

The Hesed End of Life Conversation series is an intergenerational opportunity to talk about an important part of life that rarely gets discussed.  With teachings from our Jewish texts, we are exploring the belief that talking about death prepares us to approach life’s most challenging moments and helps us articulate who we are and what we ultimately care about.  

This conversation follows the well-received 1st Hesed End of Life Conversation, “Death over Brunch.”

Please join Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt for text study on the Halacha at the end of life.  This will be followed by personal stories from Adas members who have been affected by the work of the Bereavement Committee and Bereavement Committee members who have been enriched by their work as Shomrim, Tahara team members, and Chaverim.

Session #2 will serve as a bridge to Session #3 on May 19:  “Curating Your Own Death.”  The format for this session will be similar to that of the first session.  Rabbi Holtzblatt will lead a presentation and then a meditation.  There will be time for facilitated discussion at table groups.

Conversation #3 on May 19:  “Curating Your Own Death”  will be an opportunity to imagine what would bring you and your family comfort and peace at the end of your life.  Rabbi Holtzblatt will share with us what she has learned from being at the bedsides of people who are dying; will explore how to best communicate your wishes to friends and family; and lead a guided meditation.  Facilitated discussion at table groups will allow time to further explore these topics and the possibility of speaking with your family and friends.Holtzblatt will lead a presentation and then a meditation. There will be time for facilitated discussion at table groups.

You can sign up for all 3 Conversations About End Of Life sessions or for each individual one. No charge. For more information, contact Jamie Butler at Please register below for our second session.

Please note: Limited parking will be available on Sunday, May 19 due to multiple programs occurring. Please plan accordingly.


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.

Wed, May 22 2019 17 Iyyar 5779