Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring Davenning on Spring Pl.

Spring Has Sprung! Chodesh Aviv (the first month of the year, also known as Nissan) starts on Wednesday night. Come celebrate the first Shabbat of spring at Zoo Minyan this Friday night.

We'll have spirited songful Davening and delicious dinner (catered entrees from Sienna's). We're lucky to be hosted this week by Avodah House on Spring Pl, just off 16th Street. We're mostly set for davenning (thanks Zach, thanks Sara), but there's always room for davenning treats, a special niggunim, etc., just write back to to volunteer.

Please make a donation toward dinner and/or bring a potluck contribution (veggie/dairy) -- details below.

The Details:
This Friday night, March 28th
Shmoozing plus set-up: 6pm
Rockin' Kabbalat Shabbat -- 6:30pm sharp!
Followed by Ma'ariv, dinner, singing, drashing, more shmoozing....

+++ ABOUT DINNER (it's not just a pot-luck!)

We will have main courses from Siena's! Kosher, lots of dairy plus at
least one non-dairy option, all veggie, and all yummy! Vegetable
lasagna, eggplant parmesan -- send in your requests

For shabbat dinner, the community provides some hearty entrees. You
1) Contribute to the kitty to help pay for the entree
2) Bring a side dish, salad, drink, or desert as a dairy / veggie pot-luck contribution.

Don't worry about whether your kitchen is kosher (or “kosher enough”), everyone gets to contribute. But please be prepared to explain what's in your dish, to help people avoid allergy or kashrut issues.

If you're worried about whether you'll be able to eat at Zoo Minyan, there is always a critical mass of pot-luck contributions with a heksher or cooked in someone's heksher-only kitchen. There are always hekshered challot and grape juice, plus the entree is hekshered. And you'll get to know people as you ask who brought which dish. Questions? Ideas? Want to help? Need the address or directions? Write back to Shabbos is coming!

And don't forget about *next* Shabbos, when we'll celebrate Shabbat Ha-
Gadol (the really big shabbos) together on Saturday morning, April
4th. Grab your leyning slot early, at

For more FRIDAY NIGHT INFO, get all the details here. And for all the upcoming Friday night dates (through September -- can you believe it?), check the Zoo Minyan Google calendar.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Solidarity (Taanit Esther)

In Megillat Esther (4:16) we read:

לֵךְ כְּנוֹס אֶת-כָּל-הַיְּהוּדִים הַנִּמְצְאִים בְּשׁוּשָׁן, וְצוּמוּ עָלַי וְאַל-תֹּאכְלוּ וְאַל-תִּשְׁתּוּ שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים לַיְלָה וָיוֹם--גַּם-אֲנִי וְנַעֲרֹתַי, אָצוּם כֵּן; וּבְכֵן אָבוֹא אֶל-הַמֶּלֶךְ, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-כַדָּת, וְכַאֲשֶׁר אָבַדְתִּי, אָבָדְתִּי

Esther asks Mordechai to convey a message to everyone in her community, asking them to stand in solidarity with her as she prepares to risk her life for their sake: "gather the Jews...and fast for me...and if I perish, I perish."

In honor of Esther's call for solidarity, we...well, what do we do today? Many fast, though technically it is a "voluntary" not obligatory fast. What else can we do that recognizes and builds on the midot (character) of our holy ancestor Esther?

Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments. Here's one suggestion:

The Global Call to Action Against Poverty is campaigning in countries around the world, asking people to pressure their own governments to fulfill commitments to fight poverty, increase education, and end gender inequality. They have issued a call to solidarity (perhaps a bit like Esther's, but without the risk of death), welcoming everyone to make an individual pledge in response to that call:

Here are some great pictures that people have posted along with their personal pledges:

Whether it's through GCAP, the Purim mitzvah of matanot evyonim, or something else -- what's your response to Esther's call?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Multiplying Simcha

Our sages taught, Mi she-nichnas Adar, marbim l'simcha – whoever enters the month of Adar, their joy increases. “Marbim” connotes multiplying. That is, the joy in Adar doesn't come out of nothing. It multiplies, based on what was there before. “Marbim” also connotes multitudes. That is, by being amongst many, joy increases.

So come bring whatever joy you have, and come be in the midst of community for this Shabbat Zachor, the shabbos before Purim.

Leyners, davenners, davenning treats, Zoo Minyan veggies, torah schlepping-- it's all yours for the asking.  Just write back to  Or for leyning, head to to claim your slot.

The Details:

Zoo Minyan
This Saturday, Shabbat Zachor, 7 March
10am sharp, with a joyful Psukei d'Zimrah
Pot-luck dairy/veggie lunch to follow -- main courses especially appreciated

At the home of Deborah Hittleman Flank and Shalom Flank in Woodley Park (for directions, write to

Purim is coming! We get to partake of the four mitzvot of purim (a warm-up for the four cups of pesach, but that's another story):

  • Reading the Megillah
  • The Purim Seudah (a feast during the day)
  • Mishloach Manot (e.g., giving out hamentaschen)
  • Tzedakah (Matanot l'Evyonim or Gifts to the poor)

This year, there are some new opportunities to help fulfill those mitzvot:

Tikkun Leil Shabbat is having its first-ever Megillah reading on Monday night, starting 6:45pm at the Josephine Butler Parks Center (2437 15th St NW). More details at

Deborah is reprising her delicious JSC course from last year, hosting a hamentaschen baking on Sunday at 1pm, at her and Shalom's house. RSVP to

Finally, among the many, many deserving places for tzedakah: Purim is the only holiday that commemorates something that happened to us in a foreign land (without an exodus from that land). If you're looking for opportunities to help the poor help themselves in foreign lands,check out


Make sure you have Shalom & Deborah's annual Erev Shira on your calendar! Next Shabbos, March 14th, In honor of their joint birthday-week

5:30pm to ???
  • Seudah shlishit, with plenty of niggunim and chassidic stories
  • Into Havdalah, then we break out the guitars
  • And the copies of Rise Up Singing (bring your own if you have them)