We are creating a spiritual and political home for people bound together by a welcoming and liberatory Judaism. We are a community that is multiracial and intergenerational, including families of all kinds and individuals, interfaith families and fellow travelers, people with a diversity of gender identities and sexualities, and people from a wide range of religious and secular backgrounds and practices.
Many of us have been part of very successful and nurturing lay-led Jewish communities. Through this project, we are seeking to build this sense of community in a sustainable institution, where there are multiple pathways to involvement and belonging – whether through prayer, Torah study, arts, justice, or community support. Our rabbi plays a multi-fold role as spiritual leader, community organizer, and educator, in close partnership with lay leaders from the community. Having a rabbi also helps new people feel welcomed and connected, and provides a resource for pastoral care and lifecycle events. For us, building a synagogue means that we aspire to create a stable and lasting community.
We meet at Israel Metropolitan CME Church or other locations in and around Petworth, D.C., as well as virtually on Zoom.
We are committed to grounding ourselves in values of social justice, and to reflecting on our predominantly white Jewish community’s presence in a once-Jewish, then predominantly Black and Latinx, and now rapidly gentrifying space. We are grateful to be connecting through local organizing and partnerships with Black-led institutions in the neighborhood.
The future is mysterious! It could happen, but it is not currently a goal of ours.
Nope! We are a pluralistic, egalitarian, non-denominational synagogue. People in our community like a variety of prayer and ritual styles, so we offer different kinds of programs and services to meet our community’s diverse needs and desires.
At our first annual membership meeting on May 5, 2019, our members voted to make “New Synagogue Project” our name. The name was originally proposed as a placeholder name when we launched in the spring of 2018, but it just fit! To us, it signifies that we are always renewing and co-creating the ongoing project of building our synagogue.
We are building a community focused on the liberation of all people and this explicitly includes liberation for Palestinians. Many of the first movers of this project are people who sought a spiritual home congruent with their political commitments to end the occupation and act in solidarity with Palestinians and work for safety for Israelis and Palestinians. As a community, we do not fuse our spiritual practice with any form of political nationalism.
There is no litmus test to enter our community, all are welcome. We are not affiliated with a particular Israel/Palestine advocacy organization, although many of our members are active leaders in groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow, and JStreet, and we hope this will be a community where we can all explore our own beliefs and the movements we want to join. This community is a home for anyone who is working to end the occupation or doing Palestinian solidarity work, as well as anyone who is not working on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or affiliated with any political group.
Our services are led by community members and Rabbi Yosef together. We also have a singing team composed of community members who love to sing, are excited to learn and contribute new songs/melodies, and want to help ground the community’s singing during services and help elevate our collective spiritual experience. No experience is required! We welcome people of all singing abilities. Contact the singing team at email@example.com to join the singing team list
Instruments are used on Shabbat on an ad hoc basis. If you play an instrument and are interested in contributing your musical talents, please let us know! If you want to attend, but instruments present a barrier for you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help figure out how to make this space accessible.
Yes! All our prayer books include full transliteration. We also do a little bit of singing in English. Additionally, our prayer leaders announce the page numbers as we go, so it’s (hopefully!) easy to follow along. And no matter your relationship to Hebrew, you can always hum along, use the space to meditate, stretch, and take control of your own spiritual experience.
New Synagogue Project hosts Shabbat gatherings regularly for all ages and kids on Friday night, Saturday morning, and Havdalah on Saturday evening. In our first few years together, we’ve observed Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Hanukkah, Tu B’shevat, Purim, Passover, Lag B’Omer, Shavuot, Tisha B’Av, and more
Jewish tradition teaches us to mark transitions with intention. We’re building a community that aims to mark important life cycle events, from birth to death, baby namings, b’mitzvah, gender transitions, weddings, name changes, conversions and affirmations, losses, and other meaningful events. Rabbi Yosef is available to talk about and officiate life cycle rituals as well as any religious or spiritual issues on your mind. For spiritual support or to plan a life cycle ritual email Rabbi Yosef.
We also have a Chesed/Community Care Team that works to ensure everyone in our community has support through life transitions. Contact email@example.com for more info about joining this team or with requests for support.
We offer ongoing classes, and continue to design new offerings based on community interest. To learn more about upcoming opportunities or talk about what you’re interested in learning, contact Rabbi Yosef at firstname.lastname@example.org, the Arts, Learning, and Culture Team co-leads at email@example.com, and/or the Spirituality and Ritual Team Lead at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rabbi Yosef also offers an Intro to Jewish Practice course for members of the community from all levels of experience and backgrounds. Members receive updates about new course offerings through our member listserv. If space is available after registration opens to members, announcements will be made via our email list.
Anyone interested in being part of Jewish community! We welcome anyone who is committed to our mission of creating spiritually vibrant, radically inclusive Jewish community that reflects a vision for a world of justice, equity, and liberation. We believe strongly that there is no such thing as a hierarchy of Jewishness based on observance, Jewish background, or parentage. Judaism, Torah, and Jewish culture belong to all of us! We are an inclusive, pluralistic community of families with kids, couples and single people, queer and trans people, interfaith families, Jews of color and white Jews, religious, secular, and atheist Jews, non-Jewish partners and family, and anyone interested in exploring and experiencing Jewish life.
We are committed to making our community accessible and inclusive for all. This includes people who are neurodivergent, D/deaf, hard of hearing, blind or low vision, and/or who have physical disabilities, learning disabilities, and other kinds of disabilities not listed. We have ASL interpretation at every Friday evening Shabbat service, and ASL upon request for all our other programs. For virtual programming, ASL and CART captioning are available upon request, and automatic captions are always provided. As we return to in-person events, we will share more information about accessibility. If you have an access need and are wondering if it can be met, please contact our Access Coordinator at email@example.com.
The New Synagogue Project’s diverse array of programs creates many ways to build community liberation-focused Jewish community together. Our Shabbat gatherings range from services for adults and children, Torah text study, and singing at Havdalah. Programming teams are launching community structures to organize for social justice, learn together through classes and media discussion groups, create art together, and more. Learn more about New Synagogue Project’s programming teams and how to get involved.
Yes! Many interfaith and multifaith families are part of our community! We won’t pressure anyone to convert or practice in a specific way. We welcome non-Jewish members to participate and offer their gifts to the community in whatever form they choose including participating in services, ritual, programming, and leadership.
Yes! We welcome anyone interested in exploring and experiencing Jewish life. We offer an Introduction to Judaism course at least once a year. You can learn about the timing by joining our mailing list or contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Rabbi Yosef also works directly with conversion and affirmation students; contact Rabbi Yosef to learn more.
Children of all ages are welcome. We regularly have kids’ services on Friday early evenings and Saturday mornings. Learn more about our programming for families with young children here. School-aged kids can enroll in our Kollel Shabbat morning school; learn more here. And kids are welcome in grownup-oriented programs too, if that works for your family. If you’re interested in helping to shape kids-focused programming, please contact our Kids Team at email@example.com.
- All food served during potlucks and catered meals is vegetarian. Occasionally there is fish at kiddush lunches. We ask that all contributors for potluck meals label the ingredients in the dishes they bring. We welcome people with diverse eating needs and hope this system will help folks with a variety of considerations navigate our event potlucks. If you have specific questions or concerns, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes, there are gender-neutral bathrooms at the venues where we host events, typically single-stall.
As a community grounded in a vision for a just and equitable world, we are committed to working alongside movements for racial, economic, and environmental justice and opposing the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Our Justice Team shapes how we live out our social justice values as a community. Through building relationships with grass-roots organizations, sitting on city-wide coalitions, engaging in political advocacy and education, and standing in solidarity with marginalized communities, NSP’s Justice Team works on using our communities strengths and assets to make DC a more just and equitable place to live for all. Contact the Justice Team at email@example.com to get involved.
We are a leader-full project! Our core leadership is called the Team of Instigators, which also serves as the legal board. They shepherd the New Synagogue Project’s vision and programs, manage finances, and oversee leadership structures, volunteers, and membership in partnership with our clergy and staff. Learn more about our Team of Instigators here, our Clergy & Staff here, and our leadership structure here.
Absolutely! Everyone is welcome to join our services, gatherings, and other programs. Some programs (e.g. classes) may have discounted registration fees for members, and only members can vote at our annual membership meeting which takes place every Spring. If you come to events and feel at home, we encourage you to consider becoming a member. More info here.
Our name started out as a placeholder until we could choose a name as a community (once such a community existed!). By then, many of us felt the name really fit us and we voted overwhelmingly to keep it at our first annual membership meeting. Read more about what our name means to us today from Rabbi Yosef here.
The word “Kollel” has a variety of meanings depending on the exact context, but we are focused on the translation that means “collective.” The program’s guiding principles call on our community to collaborate to raise our children in Jewish values, each bringing what we can to the endeavor. We arrived at this name through a community nominations and voting process.
That’s great! If you know which team you’d like to participate in, take a look at our team contact list here and write to the team lead/s. If you’re not sure where to start and want to learn more, contact our Synagogue Director, Lauren Spokane, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re not already getting regular update emails about NSP happenings, sign up for our event emails here.
If you decide to become a member, you’ll be added to the members-only listserv, which is a great way to learn about holidays, events, and developments at NSP and to communicate with other members.