A group of young Orthodox Jews in Washington, DC held their first Yom Kippur service yesterday under the auspices of their new congregation, DC Minyan, which aims to offer equal roles to men and women. The congregation was formed seven months ago as a lay-led Orthodox congregation with services that involve equal participation from women – who sit out of view of men and have no role in typical Orthodox services.
While men and women still sit apart in DC Minyan services, they sit in groups side by side in full view of each other with equal roles in worship. The four original founders studied ancient Jewish legal texts with “an eye towards including women in the services,” co-founder Adam Szubin, told the Washington Post. They found several opinions allowing “active and vibrant roles for women in Jewish life that had been lost or swept under the carpet in the intervening centuries,” Szubin added.
Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman, professor of liturgy at New York’s Hebrew Union College, called the idea of the new congregation “a healthy thing, because it means people opt for something that is meaningful to them.”