Minyanaire founds independent prayer community in Cleveland
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Project: The Cleveland Young Professionals' Minyan (CYPminyan) is setting an example for an empowered, educated, and vibrant young Jewish community in Cleveland, Ohio by running monthly Kabbalat Shabbat services followed by community building pot-luck dinners, as well as setting the foundation for an unaffiliated community Beit Midrash.
In one sentence, tell us who you are:
I moved back to Cleveland two and a half years ago and found that it was very difficult to find a community of people my age who were interested in getting together and celebrating holidays and Shabbat. This personal need led me to develop the CYP Minyan to help like-minded people find one another, and to build excitement and ownership of Jewish traditions for my age demographic.
The young Jewish Cleveland community tends to move away after college to places with much more vibrant Jewish centers and larger Jewish populations like Chicago, D.C., or New York. For those of us left in Cleveland, it is much harder to build a stronger community because there are fewer Jewish young professionals and fewer knowledgeable people. We are much less of a force than a similar initiative in a place like NYC, and this makes it harder for us to build excitement about new innovative ideas in Cleveland.
Being at PresenTense has really given me a sense of the step-by-step process of how to build a venture. The tools that I am taking with me and the critical way of seeing the world around me will stick with me for a long time.
I am struggling with the best way to grow my project and the timeline within which to establish new initiatives like the Community Beit Midrash, a space for the Cleveland community to come together and learn Jewish texts and traditions with people from all different backgrounds, and the Tikkun Olam Project, a social justice initiative both in the community and abroad.
One year from now we will have doubled our attendance to our flagship Kabbalat Shabbat program, First Fridays, which meets the first Friday night every month. We will also have in place holiday programming for Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Purim, Shavuot, and Tisha B'Av. Our Community Beit Midrash will have a set plan and will launch during our Shavuot kick-off event.
I hope that the Cleveland Jewish community will open their minds a little bit more to innovative Jewish programming. I hope that there is more representation in the traditional egalitarian prayer arena. Finally, I hope that we can achieve a more cohesive community through better communication between Jewish bodies and events on the ground and a more aggressive dialogue between the different denominations and rabbis in Cleveland.
I think that PresenTense is doing something very cool. I see them expanding and really putting down a foundation on the ground in different communities around the US and the world to help communities succeed in new innovative ways of thinking.