Why this is big news:
- The new TLS combines two (and possibly more) styles of services, in series rather than in parallel. This means that individuals can go only on the weeks that their preferred style is happening, or they can go every time. It sounds like many will opt for the latter. This bimodal distribution will allow each style of prayer to be fully actualized, rather than averaging the two styles for a half-assed "compromise". It also creates an environment for built-in cross-fertilization. The diverse community will be a laboratory for Stage-3 pluralism.
- The TLS juggernaut, with its increased size and frequency, instantly challenges the hegemony of DC Minyan (which, despite its website's uncanny similarity to the Kehilat Hadar website, isn't fully egalitarian) as flagship minyan of DC's young Jewish transient scene. The appearance of this second duumvir will lead to a healthier DC independent minyan scene all around, as the constellation of minyanim comes to more accurately reflect the Jewish identities of their constituent population.
- Kol Zimrah has a sister minyan on this continent!
- Self-identified Reform Jews are finally building up the confidence and social capital to join in the reindeer games of the funky pluralistic post-denominational Jewish world, rather than being the tiny invisible outcast minyan that the rest of Hillel never hears about. Sure, DCRC is dropping the "Reform" from its name so that the combined DCRC/TLS can appeal to people across denominational lines, but through this merger (which happened entirely naturally as a result of the strong connections between TLS and DCRC) the Reform influence will continue to be felt by people from a wide range of Jewish backgrounds, and through this merger the people from specifically Reform backgrounds can experience a broader understanding of what a Reform Jewish community can be.
The news from New York:
- The Hadar Shavuot Retreat is sold out. In other news, the sun rose this morning, and Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead. It's nice to see the universe following its natural order.
- The solid and growing Brooklyn delegation to Kol Zimrah has pulled off a benevolent coup. After three years of dedicated trekking to the Upper West Side, this March they invited the whole community to a bonus Brooklyn edition of Kol Zimrah, with assistance from the Park Slope Minyan. It was such a success that the Funk hasn't seen the last of Kings County. This summer, KZ will return to its usual stomping grounds in Riverside Park (hoping to decrease its historical rain-out rate of 36%), but there will also be special Brooklyn Funks in July and August. Which borough is next?
- Jew It Yourself is going to revolutionize the independent Jewish world when it goes live. But I can't say any more until then.