DCJCC offers a new way of reflection

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The Washington DC Jewish Community Center is offering community members a new avenue for thought and reflection in light of the upcoming High Holidays with its Atonement Project, a compilation of personal responses made by a variety of individuals ranging from young families, JCC patrons and staff, theater and arts program attendees, well-known community figures, and others who heard about the project and wanted to participate.

With a maximum recording time of 90 seconds per video entry, participants were asked to respond to one of seven concepts that relate to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, including repentance, awe, forgiveness, atonement, renewal, sin and righteousness.


“These are core philosophical concepts that speak to many people in our society, and we wanted to re-engage in conversation about those themes,” said Ilya Tovbis, director, Washington Jewish Film Festival (WJFF) and WJFF Year-Round, who came up with the idea for the project. “Our participants range in age from 18 years old to senior citizens who have shared personal anecdotes and stories or have even told jokes. They really run the gamut which is what we were hoping to do.”

Carole Zawatsky, CEO at the DCJCC, is one of the 60 people who have taken part so far in The Atonement Project.
Carole Zawatsky, CEO at the DCJCC, is one of the 60 people who have taken part so far in The Atonement Project.

With filming having started on Aug. 5 and running through Sept. 3, the project already has 60 segments, with Tovbis predicting the final product to have somewhere around 100 responses.

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“The power of the project comes out of the multiplicity of voices, the more there are the better,” Tovbis said.

The finished project will be available for screening at a viewing station in the lobby of the DCJCC through the duration of the High Holidays. Additionally, all 35,000 members of the JCC will receive short clips of the project through email, and it will also be made available through social media and on the JCC’s website (www.dcjcc.org).


Those viewing the project will  have a space to offer feedback and are encouraged to record and email their response via Instagram video. There will also be a board with post-its set up at the screening station where people can write short responses to what they saw to foster conversation.

“We’re really hoping to spark an on-going conversation that will continue much longer than the videos themselves are,” said Tovbis, who added that depending on the feedback, The Atonement Project could become an annual endeavor. “We want to inspire a new way of thinking about the concepts behind the High Holidays.”

To check out a preview of The Atonement Project, visit http://washingtondcjcc.org/center-for-arts/film/the-atonement-project.html

Those interested in being a part of The Atonement Project can email their own videos to Tovbis at [email protected] Submissions must be sent by Sept. 3. 

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