It started back in 2012 when a bunch of friends met in Le Cheile to talk about the local Jewish community, what it was missing, and how to make it better. After some taco nights, Starbucks meetings, and a Facebook group (Open Up Washington Heights), things were up and running. Next came a Shavuot bake-off, rooftop gatherings, and Pot Luck Learning, and soon we were outgrowing our space. After some retreats and visioning sessions, and a tip from Rabbi Schwartz (of Mt. Sinai Jewish Center), we ended up at Congregation Beth Hamedrosh Hagadol of Washington Heights (BHH) in the summer of 2014. And after a year of High Holiday services and meals, monthly Shabbatons, tabling and caroling, and JewsInTheHeights@gmail.com, the Beis Community was officially a thing. Two years later, the Beis Community found its new home at the Shteible formerly known as Rieder’s/Cong. Shmuel Yosef V’Chaya, on 187th and Ft. Washington. And we’re just getting started!
It’s an ever changing and expanding group of organizers, and Yael & Hart Levine and Sara Rozner are currently the key people helping make it happen, so get in touch with them if you have any pressing questions or ideas for the next best thing to hit the Heights. But we’re a grassroots community – not a rabbinic couple running a program, nor an organization or a shul – so there are plenty of other wonderful people running things and taking charge. It makes us harder to define, but it’s unique and it’s very much at the core of what we are.
We’ve gotten support from UJA and Hazon (through their Hakhel Fellowship for Intentional Jewish Communities), OneTable (back when it was called Start Up Shabbat), and most significantly, the OU – who’s invested in this project as a manifestation of their desire to invest in post-college young Jews, Orthodox and not. And of course, we’d love your support as well — our Beis Builders campaign is built with the support of over 30 community members like you.
Statement of Inclusion:
The Beis welcomes all who seek Jewish community, regardless of age, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity & expression, ability, family background, Jewish background, socioeconomic status, observance, affiliation, and religious or political beliefs to join our Washington Heights community. To find out if this is the place for you, if you have any questions, or if you want to get involved, email Hart.