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Now Esther Foer mentors her youthful staff of nine and the young people who drift through her doors, most of them unaffiliated with any house of worship. Friday night services are purposely kept at about an hour to keep things seeker-friendly. She knows Jewish staff for the new Obama administration are already here in Washington and checking out Sixth and I.

“My touch is nurturing people,” she says. “People are coming to Washington from all over the country. Our people aren’t observant people who want to go to synagogue every Friday night. We want to draw them in.”

To the point where she’s willing to break the rules on how a synagogue is usually run.

“What are the rules?” she asks with a smile and a shrug.

“This is really what she was meant to do,” says her son Franklin. “It is a perfect combination of her passions and her skills. I think she’s kicking herself for not getting into it earlier.”