DC has one of the largest young professional communities in the country, but unless someone is comfortable with traditional prayer servicesor being the youngest person in the congregation (besides the bar mitzvah boy), there isn’t much for this age group. There are plenty of local minyanim that cater to Orthodox and Conservative Jews (DC Minyan, Adas Israel’s Shir Delight, Tikkun Leil Shabbat, 6th St. Minyan, Mesorah DC, Downtown Shabbat, just to name a few), but for the 76% of DC’s younger adults who identify as “Reform,” there are few age-appropriate options.
Yes, Sixth & I offers a 6th in the City service once a month featuring Rick Recht, Temple Micah organizes small Shabbat meals in people’s homes, and TLS hosts some minyanim with instruments, but Metro Minyan brings something much-needed and new to the DC Reform scene.
Metro Minyan is Washington Hebrew Congregation’s avenue to provide DC’s young professional Jewish community with an informal, musical, come-as-you-are Shabbat experience. Once a month, Metro Minyan will get together for a Shabbat service and dinner in different places along DC’s Metro. The organizers originally envisioned thirty to forty young Jews coming together in small community settings. After running a pilot a few months ago at WHC, which drew over 60 people (despite participants needing a car to get here), they knew they were on to something. This past Friday confirmed that, big time.
The first Metro Minyan drew over 140 people. The service was geared toward all Jewish backgrounds, using familiar melodies from niggunim to Jewish summer camp favorites with guitar to traditional Hebrew chanting. Following kiddush and motzi over challah, participants lined up for dinner and dessert provided by New Course Catering, a non-profit catering company that provides chronically unemployed people with restaurant and catering skills. The night ended with a rousing birchat ha’mazon, and people socialized for over an hour before getting back on the Metro to continue their night with friends.
“Metro Minyan was a great occasion to get together with friends and celebrate Shabbos,” said participant David Michaelson. “Rabbi Miller’s enthusiasm and excitement about Metro Minyan, particularly the huge turnout and exciting prospects, were contagious. It was also nice to bring the Jewish community to a
part of DC that does not usually host a congregation or services.”
The Future of Metro Minyan
The next Metro Minyan will take place on February 17. Needless to say, the folks at WHC are getting excited.
“We never imagined Metro Minyan would generate so much enthusiasm so quickly,” said Rabbi Aaron Miller. “Now we are recalibrating how we might grow the model into something bigger without Metro Minyan becoming “too big.” Over time, we hope to train and empower the community’s 20’s and 30’s leadership to host and lead their own services. On months between our large gatherings, these service leaders will be able to lead Metro Minyanim in peoples’ homes and apartment buildings on each of DC’s Metro lines. This will not only foster a smaller, more intimate feeling, but encourage these lay leaders to invite their friends to support them as they help bring an ever-growing circle of participants into the Metro Minyan community.”