Sisterhood is a vibrant part of our congregational community. Sisterhood provides support to our congregation by volunteering time to facilitate special events and activities as well as being a frequent sponsor of the Shabbat Oneg and Kiddush.
Here are some of the many CEH Projects that Sisterhood supports:
- Weekly and holiday bema flowers, onegs and kiddushes
- B’nai Mitzvah Coaching
- CEH’s Capital Campaign
- Rug cleaning
- Facility and equipment improvements
- Tikkun Olam projects
- Public speaking coaching for B’nai Mitzvah students
- Religious School support
History and Structure
- The Sisterhood of Congregation Etz Hayim is comprised of women members (those who identify as women) of Congregation Etz Hayim. It was founded in 1943 as an “affiliated organization of Congregation Etz Hayim. (The Men’s Club is an example of another affiliated organization.)
- It is an independent organization.
- The bylaws of the Sisterhood establish procedures for election of officers, including president and treasurer.
- The Sisterhood is currently affiliated with the National Women’s League of the United Synagogue and the active Seaboard Branch of the League.
- The Sisterhood operates under the 501(c)(3) tax status of the synagogue.
- The synagogue has no financial responsibility or obligations to the Sisterhood except as authorized by a vote of the Congregation Etz Hayim board of directors.
- The bylaws of the synagogue grant the Sisterhood president or designee one seat on the Board of Directors of the Synagogue to facilitate coordination between the Sisterhood and the synagogue at large.
- The Sisterhood is funded through annual dues of $36 per member. $15 per member from the dues is used to affiliate the Congregation’s Sisterhood with the Women’s League of Conservative Judaism.
- The bank balance is as of November 15, 2021 was $22,783. This includes money in the Kiddush Fund and the Blanche Davidson Fund. The Blanche Davidson Fund provides flowers for the bimah and may not be used for other purposes. The Sisterhood also has an Israeli Bond.
- The Sisterhood raises funds and donates to support the needs of Congregation Etz Hayim.
- Funding sources: Sisterhood dues, fundraising events such as Torah Fund pins and tablecloth sales, and funds from catering bar/bat mitzvahs.
- It responds to requests from the Rabbi, the Education Director and Preschool Director for needs of the shul, the religious school and preschool. For example, the Sisterhood purchased:
- the washing machine,
- window shades throughout the building,
- rug cleaning,
- folding chairs for the sanctuary,
- a sound system,
- white boards for all the classrooms, and
- Provided $25,000 towards the Capital Campaign.
- Sponsored the high holiday cantor in 2020.
- Paid for a tutor for bar/bat mitzvah students.
- Offered to buy outdoor supplies for the preschool during pandemic.
- Contributed to paying for a facilitator for a board retreat.
- In addition, the Sisterhood supports the Torah Fund, which provides scholarships at the five Conservative rabbinical seminaries: JTS [NYC], Ziegler [LA] – at the American Jewish University, Frankel [Germany] – at the Potsdam University, Schechter [Jerusalem], and Seminario [Buenos Aires].
- The Sisterhood has supported the George Mason University Hillel.
- The Sisterhood has historically been in charge of all uses of the kitchen, subject to the kashrut control of the Rabbi. The Sisterhood has paid for all equipment, repairs, and replacements. Sisterhood ensures that the kitchen is fully stocked with serving items and needed food for weekly and special catering events.
- The Sisterhood currently provides food for oneg shabbat and kiddush lunches and Yom Tovim, as well as kitchen supplies for all uses.
- Sisterhood members provide the work to plan, order and receive food at the synagogue, and prepare food and make arrangements to clean up from Oneg Shabbats, Kiddush luncheons, and Yom Tovs. Costs for these events range from $250 per shabbat up to $1000 for larger holidays such as Pesach.
- The Sisterhood offers catering for bna’i mitzvot and uses some of the funds received for these events to pay for shabbats and simchas throughout the year.
- B’nai mitzvah families are strongly encouraged but not required to cater their simchas and provide flowers through the Sisterhood.
- When b’nai mitzvah kiddush luncheons are catered through the Sisterhood, the family selects a menu, and the Sisterhood takes care of ordering and receiving food.
- In recent years, the labor for setting up for the b’nai mitzvah kiddush lunches has been provided by other b’nai mitzvah families.
- Families pay Edgar and a helper to assist with set up (tables, chairs, food prep) and cleanup.
- If families choose an outside caterer, the synagogue charges a flat facility use fee. (The fee at Etz Hayim is significantly lower than the fees at other Northern Virginia shuls, which include either flat fees more than 5x higher than ours or hourly fees with the first 4 hours higher than ours, plus additional hour fees, delivery fees, and room use fees.)
- Participation in catering activities has been and continues to be open to all (men, women, and teens).
- Additional funding for flowers and kiddush lunches is supported by two donor funds managed by CEH Sisterhood):
- Blanche Davidson Floral Fund: established by the family in memory of Blanche Davidson to underwrite the purchase of weekly Shabbat floral arrangements.
- Kiddush Enhancement Fund: provides Kiddush lunches to congregants and our guests every Shabbat.