Location, Location, Location: Venue and Accomodations
One of the first choices you may make in planning your celebration is the location. When choosing where to hold your celebration, and how to put up out-of-town guests, consider the following:
Look for a venue at a synagogue or non-profit organization
For many Jewish families, holding both the ceremony and a celebration afterwards at their synagogue or temple is a natural way to ensure that the event helps to support their Jewish community. Others can simply host the celebration at home or at the home of a friend or family member.
If you would like to celebrate in a Jewish sanctuary space and aren’t already connected to a congregation that has one, the Jewish Information and Referral Service (JIRS) maintains a list of local Jewish congregations that rent their facilities: 301.770.4848, www.jirs.org.
If you are looking for another place to hold your celebration, consider a non-profit organization where your rental fee will support good work. For example:
- Events held at the Josephine Butler Parks Center overlooking Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park support the work of Washington Parks and People and the twelve community-based non-profits housed there: www.washingtonparks.net , 202.462.7275. Capacity: 200
- Events held in the Spanish Ballroom, Bumper Car Pavilion or Arcade Building at Glen Echo Park in Glen Echo, Maryland support the park’s many community arts programs: www.glenechopark.org, 301.634.2233.Capacity: 800, 300, & 50
- Events held at the WVSA building near Farragut North support WVSA Arts Connection, which brings “arts-infused” education to children and young adults with special needs: www.wvsarts.org, 202.261.0233. Capacity: 120
- Events held at the Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, Maryland, or Rust Sanctuary in Leesburg, Virginia, support the Audobon Naturalist Society’s local conservation activities and environmental education: www.audubonnaturalist.org (Woodend) 301.652.9188 x28, (Rust:) 703.669.0755. Capacity: 150.
- Events held at one of five facilities on Montgomery County parkland operated by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) support park maintenance and recreational programs across the region. Indoor capacity: 40-200. Outdoor capacity: up to 300. www.mcparkandplanning.org 301.299.5026.
Local facilities whose rental benefits Jewish non-profits include:
- Jewish Community Centers offer a wide range of social, cultural, recreational, and educational programs and services. There are JCCs in Northern Virginia (www.jccnv.org, 703.537.3024), Rockville (www.jccgw.org, 301.881.0100), and DC (http://washingtondcjcc.org, 202.777.3265).
- The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington’s Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum, the original home of Adas Israel Congregation, now located near Union Station, educates the community about local Jewish history: www.jhsgw.org, 202.789.0900, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Dennis & Phillip Ratner Museum in Bethesda fosters love of the Bible through the graphic arts: www.ratnermuseum.com, 301.897.1518.
- Sixth & I Historic Synagogue provides a Jewish sanctuary and meeting place in Gallery Place: www.sixthandi.org, 202.408.3100.
Help match out-of-town guests with local hosts
Some out-of-town guests may not need a hotel room if you can help to find them someone local to stay with. This is a great chance to perform hakhnasat orchim/welcoming guests, and for your out-of-town guests to connect with your community, reduce waste, and save money. Ask a friend to serve as a hospitality shadkhan/matchmaker, matching out-of-town guests with willing hosts.
Look for hotels where workers have a voice on the job
You may be looking to hold your event at a hotel, or simply to reserve a block of rooms for out-of-town guests. If possible, choose a hotel where workershave a say in their wages, hours, and working conditions. Find union hotels in DC, Maryland, and Virginia at www.hotelworkersrising.org.
Avoid hotels engaged in a current labor dispute
When hotel owners reject hotel workers’ efforts to organize for a voice on the job, the resulting labor disputes can complicate your event — and hurt the workers’ efforts to make clear that customers support them. In the Jewish community, the Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform movements, and several national Jewish organizations, already work with the Informed Meetings Exchange (INMEX), a resource for conference planners, to ensure their conventions don’t patronize hotels involved in labor disputes. You canfollow their lead by steering clear of hotels that UNITE-HERE, the union of hotel and restaurant workers, is asking travelers to boycott. Again, search by city, state, or metro area at www.hotelworkersrising.org.
Invite your guests to take the “Just Journeys” Pledge
The Just Journeys Campaign asks the Jewish community to respect and support hotel workers when they travel by taking the Just Journeys Pledge (following). The pledge includes several specific yet simple steps that travelers can take to improve hotel employees’ working conditions and protect their health.
Consider these guidelines in choosing a hotel for your out-of-town guests. You can also consider sharing these guidelines with your guests, perhaps as part of any hospitality bags you leave for them at the hotel: http://ga6.org/campaign/ethical_travel.
To buy Just Journeys luggage tags for your out-of-town guests: https://secure.ga6.org/08/luggage_tags.
For couples: To begin with, choose a city that minimizes travel
Couples, in particular, sometimes face the question of where to locate their celebration: Where one or the other partner is from? Where the couple lives, or plans to live after marriage? Or at a “destination” city hundreds or thousands of miles away?
Air travel causes tremendous greenhouse gas emissions per passenger, making location one of the most significant environmental choices for any wedding: How many guests will have to fly to attend? For an estimate of the climate impact of travel to various locations, enter the number of guests and where they’ll be coming from into TerraPass’ Wedding Carbon Calculator: www.terrapass.com.
- For some suggestions for minimizing the environmental impact of transportation to your celebration generally, see Our Coming and Our Going
- For guests who do end up flying, consider buying them, or asking them to buy, carbon offsets. For more about offsetting, see Our Coming and Our Going
Consider sharing this pledge with any out-of-town guests:
The Just Journeys Pledge
As a hotel guest, I appreciate the hard work that hotel workers put into ensuring that I feel at home while away from home. These workers engage daily in the mitzvah/commandment of hakhnasat orchim/hospitality to guests by cleaning rooms, making beds, and otherwise ensuring that I am as comfortable as possible.
I recognize that hotel work is difficult work. The rate of injuries for hotel housekeepers is 10.4%, more than double the injury rate for service sector workers as a whole. Two-thirds of housekeepers report taking pain medication just to get through the day. I also know that hotel housekeepers, most of whom are immigrant and minority women, often struggle to support their families through these jobs, which frequently pay as little as $8.50 an hour, and which often offer no health insurance.
In order to help ensure the best possible lives for the workers who are facilitating my travel, I pledge that:
- I will not stay in hotels that are in the midst of a labor dispute. I know that I can find updated information on current labor disputes at www.hotelworkersrising.org.
- When possible, I will stay in a union hotel. I understand that union workers in the service industry earn, on average, 33% more than non-union workers, and that unions provide the most effective vehicle for workers to secure fair wages and health care, and to register complaints about misconduct. I know I can find a union hotel at www.hotelworkersrising.org.
- I will tip the housekeepers who clean my room the suggested rate of $2-5 a day.
- I will take measures to save my housekeeper time and physical strain, including: keeping my room as clean as possible, throwing trash in the garbage can, piling towels in an accessible location, and stripping the bedsheets.
- If I am pleased with the housekeeping service, I will fill out the provided comment card, knowing that the worker who cleaned my room might receive a bonus or special commendation if guests appreciate her or his work.
The Just Journeys Campaign is a project of The Progressive Jewish Alliance, Jewish Funds for Justice, and The Jewish Labor Committee.