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 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 nor 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 seed funding from the OU for the first 3 years. But we’re now independent, all on our own, and we’d love your support — our Beis Builders campaign is built with the support of over 30 community members like you.