Originally delivered at the inaugural meeting of JP Shabbat, a monthly independent minyan that started in my living room in April 2009, and as of this writing is still going strong four and a half years later, in the hands of a new generation of organizers.
I closed on my condo in Jamaica Plain just over two years ago. When I decided to move to JP, I knew I’d be entering a community where neighbors talked to each other, where acres of green space awaited just down the street, and where I’d be just a quick T ride from downtown and a quick car ride to my office. I also knew that I’d be entering a community with a lot of Jewish people, but not a lot of Jewish activity. As someone who works for the Jewish community, I have to admit I found the idea of JP as an island away from the Jews of my work week to hold more than a little appeal for me.
Of course, I don’t really want to live in an island away from Judaism… to paraphrase a rabbi I work with, I don’t hate Judaism, I just have a problem with Jews. Luckily, JP’s lack of a major synagogue presence means that the Jews who move here tend to be like-minded. It didn’t take long before many of us were murmuring to each other about starting some kind of Friday night… something. A minyan, a dinner group, an occasional Kiddush club? The common theme was “I don’t care what we start as long as I don’t have to be in charge.”
Well, God bless Jess Gould and Efraim Yudewitz for stepping forward and actually getting us all into a room together. About two weeks ago, nine people assembled in Jess and Efraim’s living room and decided to start whatever this is that we’re doing now. Continue reading