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A few weeks ago I had a rare pleasure for a pulpit rabbi. I spent Shabbat at a different shul. A dear friend lives in Washington Heights which is the northern part of Manhattan (above the Upper West Side for those of you unfamiliar with the geography). It used to be a very Jewish neighborhood, inhabited by German Jews, especially the Broyers community who moved there when they immigrated. But as the immigrant population aged, the Jewish community shrunk and the once large and vibrant synagogues had begun to die out. But something wonderful happened. Young people who were getting priced out of other neighborhoods began moving up to Washington Heights.
My great grandparents lived in Washington Heights and I can only imagine the pleasure they would take in seeing the revitalized Jewish community which has taken hold. Shabbat afternoon, the local playground has enough Jewish families that when the shul needs to make a minyan, they go there to recruit.
Which brings me to the shul I visited – Fort Tryon Jewish Center. It was a warm, wonderful Shabbat morning in shul. From the first minute I walked in and the woman next to me introduced herself and welcomed me, to the spirited davenning, to the mixing of the generations, to the hot Kiddush lunch for whole congregation, to the diverse community of different generations and orientations, it was just an amazing experience.
Afterwards I remarked to my friends that it was the kind of shul that could only exist in a big city like New York. But we wondered together which elements of that experience might be transferrable?
To a degree that it our hope in convening what we are calling an Amuno minyan this Shabbat December 1st. Some of our Chizuk Amuno friends have asked for a Shabbat prayer experience that is more complete, and is also lay led and participatory. We will meet in the Lerner Beit Midrash for Services at 9:15 and then will join up with the Main Sanctuary for the sermon and concluding prayers so that we can be together as a community.
Come lend your voice, your spirit and your skills. And if not this Shabbat, then January 19th when we next meet.