DCM Community Meeting 2010

May 26, 2010


After a review of the budget, we solicited topics of interest from meeting attendees.


Brainstormed topics:
process for self evaluation

evaluating value of lay leadership


more frequent services

emphasis on family programming

emphasis on family programming

fundraising campaign

articulating membership benefits

innovative programming

singles programming

improving adult education opportunities

maximizing efficiency/financial benefits for members

synagogue reciprocity

colonization of JCC preschool

articulating larger vision

DCM place within DC community

lyfecycle support

fifth shabbat

tzniut (modesty)

community service

broadening partnerships with other minyanim

inspiring volunteerism and broader participation

allocation of resources

family flight

rent a rabbi

extracurricular multi-generational programming

getting nonmembers involved

interfaith programming

community building events

greening initiatives

space for praver outside JCC/permanent space


From these topics, we selected the top four that garnered the most widespread interest for further exploration:


Discussion topics:
articulating vision

frequency of meeting




Below are the notes from each of the four breakout sessions.

Notes from “Adult Education Opportunities at DCM” Breakout Group


1.       General concern about quality of adult education opportunities: participants felt that there are many members of the DCM community with the ability to teach, but whose knowledge and skills haven’t been harnessed by the community.

a.       DCM might consider creating a network to help match up those interested in learning opportunities with peers. 

2.       Tension between creating an inclusive educational environment and offering challenging lectures and classes: some felt that teachers and speakers try so hard to ensure that everyone will understand a lecture that those with stronger text backgrounds feel less challenged or engaged.

3.       While DC Beit Midrash serves the needs of some of our community, other have not found it challenging or engaging in the past. Some in the group expressed a desire to create similarly consistent learning programs for those who are not interested in participating in DC Beit Midrash.

a.       One suggestion was to offer different levels of educational programming that target audiences with a certain level of background.

b.      Another suggestion was to consider offering a recurring lecture series, so that those with an interest in consistent learning might have an avenue to do that through the minyan.

                                                               i.      In order to gauge the appropriate level for something like this, we might send out a survey asking if people would be interested in a recurring course, and if so, what their level of background is.

4.       One participant saw an opportunity to engage leaders and scholars from the Greater DC-metro area and bring them into DC Minyan. 

5.       Type and format of learning opportunities: several participants expressed an interest in non-lunch-and-learn educational events.

a.       One proposal was for a longer dvar Torah after shul on a Shabbat morning that coincided with an extended Kiddush.

b.      Someone else suggested a brunch event, though consensus was that this type of event would likely have lower registration than Shabbat programs.\


Notes from "Vision" Breakout Group

- Should DCM have a broader goal/mission that goes beyond being a minyan? Group discussed models like Hadar, which started Machon Hadar, as a way to grow a broader movement. Does DCM want to be part of a broader movement? Or help start it's own?

- Does DCM need a long-term plan? Does it need a 5-year vision? Where is the minyan heading?

- Who does DCM cater to? Should it continue to serve its original niche -- young professionals recently graduated from college? Should it broaden to cater to young families? Should DCM shift to adapt to its membership, or should it be more conscious about picking a target niche.

- Are there ways that DCM can foster innovation? Ideas:
1. Create a fund that would award $200 grants to any programming ideas proposed to the SC. Even if this money is currently available, it should be made explicit, and with a clearer process for applying for the money, and clearer parameters.
2. Create an innovation competition, with a $5,000 for the best new idea for the DCM programming. Perhaps have parlor meetings tied to the competition.
3. Bring in someone from the outside (perhaps with an entrepreneurship background) to help brainstorm and foster innovation.

- How do we get people more involved? How do we get people to want to volunteer more, take more initiative, feel more ownership over the minyan? Ideas:
1. Offer more discrete, one-time tasks or projects, rather than long-term coordinator positions. Advertise these specific tasks in the announcements.
2. Divide up tasks that usually belong to one person.
3. Make more weekly tasks. (For example, people can sign up on a weekly basis to be greeters or help organize kiddush.)
4. Have the SC reach out to a broader group of people.



Notes from “Frequency of services/5th Shabbat” Breakout Group

- Issues: Should DCM meet more frequently? Specifically, should DCM offer services and/or other programming on "5th" Shabbatot when it currently does not meet?

- Many people in the group thought that some sort of 5th Shabbat programming would be a good idea.  Ideas included a seudah shlishit (including mincha and maariv), a group hike (possibly including davening), and a potluck picnic (possibly including davening).

- Others felt that a regular service on 5th Shabbatot would be preferable.

- A major concern with offering more regular services (on 5th Shabbatot and in general) is the effort and people-power it would take to put together the coordination.  We have a good but not limitless pool of daveners and leyners.  Some people suggested that there are daveners and leyners who wouldn't mind being asked more frequently than they are currently being asked.  Others mentioned that some frequent service participants would prefer being asked to participate less often.

- In the past, we have offered learners services on 5th Shabbatot - there may be interest in coordinating a learners service soon.

- No one said they wanted more frequent DCM services in general (apart from 5th Shabbatot).


Finance/fundraising notes:

The fundraising group was small, with only four participants.  The group determined that until the leadership of the MInyan chooses to take on an initiative that requires more funding, there is no need to fundraise.  When that does occur, the group thinks that efforts to raise money will be successful.