Moving services geared to bringing the young into shul


A new minyan launching on Saturday is aimed at making shul a "must-go" experience for young people rather than a twice-yearly chore.

The United Synagogue's first Minyan on the Move will be held at Finchley Synagogue tomorrow morning and the plan is to run it at different locations through the year.

"We're looking to take it on the road," said Josh Zaitschek, the Young US rabbi. "It's a virtual community of sorts, without walls or barriers or geographical limits.

"Many young Jews feel disconnected from shul life. If we can make something exciting, vibrant and meaningful for them, it is something they will come to because they want to."

Although individual synagogues may make an effort to attract people, "many are struggling. So rather than have each shul ending up with just a few young people each week, you can have a flood of people in one place."

There will be a break mid-service for a mini-kiddush with whisky and a short talk delivered by the rabbi, or a young man or woman within the group. There will be a hot kiddush at the end.

"Often shul is a spectator sport," Rabbi Zaitschek said. "We have to try to change the perception of what it means to go to shul so it becomes somewhere they can expect high energy, an amazing mega-kiddush and a personable rabbi who connects with them.

"We're not dancing on tables but it will be fun and feel relaxed and laid back."

At first, the minyan will happen monthly. But if it takes off, it will become more regular. Ultimately, there could be more than one Minyan on the Move on the same day with groups of synagogues in different regions hosting them on a rota basis.

At Hampstead Synagogue, where Rabbi Zaitschek was previously based before moving to Finchley a few months ago, Shabbat events for young people could attract 60 people.

While Young US offers a variety of activities - most recently running Birthright trips to Israel – he believed it was important to include a service in the mix.

The High Holy-Day season felt a good time to launch the initiative because people are "a bit more switched-on" to shul-going.

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