Jewish Life

Leo & Anna Smilow Center for Jewish Living and Learning

Connect with Jewish life and culture your way through innovative and inclusive programs exploring modern life, social justice, culture, and more.

Upcoming Events

Yom Ha’Shoah Yellow Candles™: Sharing Light For Remembrance
Apr 3 all-day

In conjunction with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC), annual Yom Ha’Shoah Commemoration on April 23, 2023, the JCRC and Seaboard Region of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC) are offering at no charge Yom HaShoah Yellow Candles™ to be lit on Erev Yom HaShoah, Monday, April 17, 2023. The JCCs in the Greater Washington area are participating in this effort by supporting distribution of the candles. With the distribution of candles, we are asking for donations to the JSSA Holocaust Survivor Program. Go to to donate online.

Candles will be available in the Q Street Lobby starting April 3.

Erev Yom Ha’Shoah: Monday, April 17

Virtual Commemoration: Sunday, April 23


Annual Second Night Community Sustainability Seder
Apr 6 @ 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Annual Second Night Community Seder

Join us for our wonderful Second Night Seder – the open, welcoming, pluralistic celebration of freedom you’ve come to expect from the EDCJCC.

Registration deadline, March 24th 8:00 AM

At the Seder, we find joy in intergenerational community, storytelling, and song. Join us to meet new friends, partake in joyous singing accompanied by a guitar, and have meaningful discussions with your friends, family, and neighbors.

Our Seder will feature a delicious kosher-for-Passover meal. We’re serving DC rooftop-grown parsley, and 100% compostable plate ware with composting services generously provided by our sponsor CompostCab. Amanda Herring, Director of Jewish Life and Living, will guide you through the Seder accompanied by Ari Jacobson’s beautiful singing and guitar.

Whether this is your first Seder or your 100th, there’s a place at our Passover table for you!

Seder Menu for 2023 (subject to change)

  • Gefilte Fish with horseradish
  • Butternut Squash soup
  • Potato Kugel
  • Stuffed Peppers with farfel and veggies
  • Walnut crusted rainbow trout
  • Israeli Salad
  • Seder Plate classics
  • Desert assortment

Ticket Prices:

Adult Ticket: $72.00
EntryPointDC/Young Adult: $54.00
Child (under 12): $36.00

Need assistance? We’re looking for volunteers to help set up and check folks in. We have limited volunteer pricing available. Please reach out to

Seder Leaders:

ARS_1286v2.jpgAmanda Herring is the Director of Jewish Life and Learning at the Edlavitch DCJCC. In 2018, Amanda received her Master’s in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts at GW, and completed the JOFEE Fellowship in Jewish, Outdoor, Food, Farming and Environmental Education. It was there that she combined her passions for Shabbat and sustainable food which together can nourish and heal communities and ecosystems. Amanda is also the CEO of Gold Herring, co-creater of the Jewish Planner and the Omer Self-Care Workbook, a dance instructor and pickler. Amanda lives in Northeast DC with her partner, Greg and their kids: Abraham, Simkha, and Mensch (the dog).



thumbnail_Austrian Embassy 2019 Square.pngSong leader Ari Jacobson has been involved in music, Judaism, education, and various overlaps of the three for as long as he can remember. While studying music and theatre at UMass Amherst, he honed his song leading skills at URJ’s Eisner Camp in Great Barrington, MA. Since moving to the DMV two years ago, Ari has been happily providing music for the EDCJCC’s programs for all ages, from baby classes with the parenting center to pre-school music to various community events like this one. Also an actor and a singer/songwriter, Ari can be seen as Mikey Thomas in The Kennedy Center’s Shear Madness, and his original music can be found on his website

Seder FAQ:

Do I have to be Jewish to attend? (Observant? Old? Young? Ashkenazi? Sephardic? etc.)
Nope. We welcome everyone who would like to join our community-wide seder and celebrate Passover’s lessons of freedom! In fact, every year, we have a beautiful mix of people. Some are Jewish, and some are not. All are welcome, and (if they choose) can easily participate in a variety of ways – singing, reading, discussing ideas, or just generally being among the community.

What if I don’t read Hebrew?
Not a problem. Most of the seder is in English, and most readings in Hebrew also appear with English transliteration.

What about dinner? Is it kosher?
There is a delicious catered Kosher-for-Passover dinner at the community-wide seder. This is a vegetarian meal – and of course we’ll have dessert! Please let us know about any allergies in your registration.

We’re happy to provide ASL or other interpretation upon advance notice. The Edlavitch DCJCC building is wheelchair/mobility device accessible. If you need other accommodations to allow you to fully participate in the Seder (or simply have questions), please let us know in advance and we’ll be happy to help.

Is there a dress code? What should I wear?
There is no official dress code. Most people dress as they would for a family Seder or holiday – dressed nicely, a little dressed up, but not overly formally. (For many people that could mean a button-down or sweater, a skirt/dress, a jacket, slacks, etc. Most people do not wear jeans.) Please wear what feels appropriate to you to celebrate the holiday.

Is it appropriate to bring kids?
Yes! This is not specifically a “kids” Seder, but our atmosphere is fun and festive! We welcome all who would like to participate.

Was your question not answered? Email Amanda so we can help!

About our sponsor:

Compost Cab is providing their composting services for this event along with discounts for new home composting customers who attend!

Image is of the Compost Cab logo and it says: Community Composting Made Easy Since 2010

Celebrate Passover with Jews of Color and their Families
Apr 11 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Join us for this year’s Passover celebration! We will have a chocolate and toffee matzah bar, Passover-themed origami, a service project, and the opportunity to create community with other Jews of Color and their families!

A light kosher-for-Passover dinner will also be served.

WHEN: Tuesday, April 11, from 6:30 – 8:30 PM

WHERE: The Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center

COVID-19 INFO: Currently, masks in public spaces at the EDCJCC are optional but we encourage and embrace everyone to do what feels best and most safe for themselves and their families. Proof of vaccination is no longer required to enter the building.

QUESTIONS? Contact Sonya Weisburd at

RSVP: This event is free but we kindly request you RSVP for each member of your family to make sure we have enough food and supplies! Click on the red “Register” ticket icon to proceed to registration.

Please note this holiday celebration is specifically curated for community members who identify as Jews of Color and for their families. If you do not identify as being part of this community, we invite you to attend a different Passover event happening at the EDCJCC instead.

This event is brought to you in partnership with Khazbar, Mosaic Visions, Washington Hebrew Congregation’s JOC Affinity Group, and Adas Israel Congregation’s Jews of Color Affinity Group.

Yom HaShoah Author Talk and Workshop with Gina Roitman
Apr 16 @ 3:00 pm – 6:45 pm

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM: Workshop
5:30 PM – 6:45 PM: Author talk

Writing to Preserve Memory – Two Hour Memoir Workshop with Gina Roitman

Isabel Allende confessed, “I write to preserve memory against the erosion of oblivion and to bring people together.”

Every life is a story and when we write that story, we not only preserve it but open doors to a past that we have forgotten. Memoir is a tool for discovery and the joy of sharing life lessons: the disappointments, the heartaches, and the triumphs.

As a writing process memoir is more concerned with the emotional truth of occurrences and moments from your life versus biography which is most often focused on factual or chronological events.

In this introductory memoir workshop, we will examine the different ways that your story can be told. Will it be as a travelogue, a focus on major events that influenced your life, or will it be about a relationship with a loved one?
Brief readings will illustrate some of these methods.

The final half hour will be reserved for a writing exercise based on a ‘prompt’ to unlock the confidence you need to begin writing your story.

A recommended reading list of traditional and innovative memoirs will be provided.

Yom HaShoah Author talk with Gina Roitman

The Second Generation (2G) has been handed a torch, passed on by an ever dwindling number of Shoah survivors. Gina Roitman’s novel, Don’t Ask, her short stories, biography and documentary all focus on this responsibility. Since 2017, she has been coaching 14 daughters of Holocaust survivors in memoir-writing, almost all from in and around DC. Despite the diversity in their ages, backgrounds, professions, and temperaments—their haunting stories all carry common threads. Hear from Gina about the second generation’s onerous responsibility to move forward and yet, still honor their parent’s stories.

45 minute lecture with 30 minutes for Q&A and book signing

About Gina Roitman
A novelist, short story writer, and writing coach, Gina Roitman is the author of the literary thriller Don’t Ask; the auto-fiction collection Tell Me a Story, Tell Me the Truth; and the co-author of the biography Midway to China and Beyond. She has written the memoirs of two Holocaust survivors and her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines, and poetry collections. Gina is also the subject and co-producer of the award-winning documentary film My Mother, the Nazi Midwife and Me (2013).


Co-presented with 3GDC

Intro to Judaism
Apr 20 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Intro to Judaism

Come explore the rich fabric of Judaism! Using traditional texts and modern examples, we will cover the fundamentals of Jewish life, including Shabbat and holidays, prayer, lifecycle rituals, ethics, and beliefs.

This class is ideal for learners with questions—whether you’ve never studied Judaism before in your life, you’re looking for a Hebrew School refresher, or you’re somewhere in between!

This session will be 7 sessions on Zoom and one in-person session. The instructor will be in touch to confirm the date and location of your in-person session.

This Session:
8 Tuesdays, April 20 – June 22, no class May 4, May 25

Time: 7:30PM – 9:30 PM

General Registration: $210
Discounted Member : $180
Couples Price: $318
Did you go on Birthright or Honeymoon Israel in the past year? Send us an email to learn about special discounts for program participants.

Please contact Amanda Herring with any questions.

Before registering, make sure you are familiar with the JLL Registration Policies

Instructor: Rabbi JoHannah Potts
JoHanna Potts is the former director of The Department of Jewish Life and Learning at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Her teaching passion is to bring enjoyment to Jewish learning with a view towards empowering individuals to create lives of meaning through Judaism. Previously, she served as Director of Education at Temples Solel and Shalom, Director of The Primary School at Washington Hebrew Congregation, and Director of the Middle School at Gesher Jewish Day School. In 2006, she served as co-chair of the Conference for Alternatives in Jewish Education at Duke University. She has been involved with the DCJCC Jewish Women’s Project and helped coordinate and lead the group’s text study activities. JoHanna currently teaches the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, the Heritage series, a Women’s Torah Study Group, and conducts teacher training workshops.

David Elcott: The Future of Liberal Democracy in Israel and the World
May 9 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm


Every day, religion informs public discourse in democracies worldwide, and fuels societal polarization. Join us for a fascinating conversation about the roots of this trend, its effect on current events in Israel and how religion can be used to support liberal democracies.

Dr. David Elcott is the Taub Professor of Practice in Public Service and Leadership at the Wagner School of Public Service at NYU and Director of the Advocacy and Political Action specialization.

He currently teaches social psychology for men studying for their college degree at the Green Haven Maximum Security Prison in New York, a continuation of his advocacy work on criminal justice reform in America.

Dr. Elcott has met with prime ministers, foreign ministers, presidents and kings in the search for Middle East peace. He has provided civic engagement training across the globe, from Indonesia to Uganda to South America, as well as representing the Jewish community to the Vatican and the World Council of Churches.

About the Book
In Faith, Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Democracy, authors Dr. David Elcott, C. Colt Anderson, Tobias Cremer and Volker Haarmann present a pragmatic and modernist exploration of how religion engages in the public square. The book highlights the use of religious identity to fuel the rise of illiberal, nationalist and populist democracy. The idea that religion can play a central role in national identity is certainly not new.

Elcott and his co-authors are concerned about the ways religious identity can be used to foster the exclusion of individuals and communities from citizenship, political representation and a role in determining public policy. They explore what constitutes a constructive religious voice in the political arena, even in nurturing patriotism and democracy, and what undermines and threatens liberal democracies. The authors examine the ways religious identity is weaponized to fuel revolts against a political, social and economic order that values democracy in a global and strikingly diverse world.

Included is a history and political analysis of religion, politics and policies in Europe and the United States that foster this illiberal rebellion. To lay the groundwork for a religious response to this development, the book offers chapters showing how Catholicism, Protestantism and Judaism can nourish liberal democracy.

The authors encourage people of faith to promote foundational support for the institutions and values of the democratic enterprise from within their own religious traditions and to stand against the hostility and cruelty that historically have resulted when religious zealotry and state power combine.

Faith, Nationalism and the Future of Liberal Democracy does more than illuminate problems: it offers solutions to protect and support liberal democracy in order to care for those most vulnerable while protecting the civil and human rights of all. This book is intended for readers who value democracy and are concerned about growing threats to it, and especially for people of faith and religious leaders, as well as for scholars of political science, religion and democracy.

“In this trenchant analysis, Elcott . . . teams up with other researchers to explore the ways religion impacts politics in the US and Europe. . . . This is a startling reminder of the insidious potential of religious identity being overtaken by extremist political forces.” ~Publishers Weekly

“Faith, Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Democracy . . . impart[s] a cogent, academic and rich way of understanding how religion has been turned political weapon; it gives significant advice about what to do to address the problem . . . [and] explains how religious claims have been warped and understood to be more about belonging than believing.” ~Foreword Reviews (starred review)

“The authors’ comparative perspective helps us see our own context in a clearer light, and the activist reading of history and the present ask us, as readers and people of faith, to take action.” ~Jeannine Hill Fletcher, author of The Sin of White Supremacy

About the Co-Authors
C. Colt Anderson is the outgoing Dean of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University.

Tobias Cremer is a Junior Research Fellow at Pembroke College, Oxford, whose doctoral research focuses on the relationship between religion and the new wave of right-wing populism in Western Europe and North America.

Volker Haarmann is the chair of the Department of Theology of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland.

The event will be followed by a book signing. Books will be available for purchase at the venue

Ride for The Living
Jun 25 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Join the Edlavitch DCJCC, 3GDC, and Jews on Bikes as we participate in the Global Ride For The Living!


Sunday, June 25 – Register by June 10 to guarantee a t-shirt!
8:30 AM – long ride (approx 36 miles) welcome ceremony in the EDCJCC Parking lot
12:00 PM – rides conclude

In response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, JCC Krakow crafted a remote Virtual Ride For The Living experience so that people could still participate in this meaningful event from the comfort and safety of their own community.

The Global Challenge combines fitness and Holocaust education to help support JCC Krakow and survivors around the world.

We are participating as a DC Jewish community, and want you to join us in the ride! Your $18 registration includes access to the welcome ceremony featuring local Holocaust speaker Manny Mandel, a Ride for the Living Sport-Tek T-shirt, snacks, and a water bottle at our pit-stop on your ride. The route is partially on busy roads and partially on trails. All riders will conclude around noon. Be a part of this global event for awareness.

“I am joining RFTL Global Challenge to do my part to repair the world: raise awareness about the Holocaust, honor survivors, and support Jewish life.”
— Lukasz, 2021 RFTL GC Participant

Don’t have a bike? There are several Capital Bikeshare docks near the JCC; you can find one here

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