1. What does the name "Mission Minyan" mean?
A minyan is a group of Jews who get together for prayer, or as we like to say, davening. This group meets in the Mission. There you have it.

2. So, what is your mission?
The Mission Minyan is a vibrant, lay-led, non-denominational Jewish community centered in San Francisco's Mission District. We gather for spirited, aesthetically compelling, liturgically complete davening, as well as study and social events. Our practice is guided by traditional halacha and the values of gender equity and respect for variations in personal observance. We are a highly participatory, queer-inclusive community that strives to make as many people as possible feel welcome. The community grows through word-of-mouth, and everything we do is led by volunteers. We are committed to local tzedakah and ecological awareness. Our community is built on friendships, humor, good food, singing, and learning together.

3. Does the Minyan have membership?
Not in the traditional sense (we charge you money, you come to shul, your kids go to Sunday School.) We consider that all our participants are members - who not only fill seats on Shabbat, but also contribute hospitality, money and singing voices when those things are needed. Everyone is welcome.

4. Who comes to the Mission Minyan?
All kinds of people. Women, men, gay folks, straight folks, Orthodox Jews, Reform Jews, yeshiva bachurs, babies, rabbis, the perplexed…

5. What are your services like?
We meet for Shabbat every Friday night – at 6:30 in the winter and 7:00 in the summer. We are committed to try to make matches between folks looking for home hospitality and those with extra seats at their meals every Friday.

On Friday nights we meet at the Women's Building on 18th street, a space which we rent from a non profit organization. We start on time. Our seating is mostly mixed but includes other options; it reflects our ongoing endeavor to allow Jews from a wide spectrum of backgrounds to daven together. More seating details are here.

Friday nights are in two parts: Kabbalat Shabbat is a series of psalms sung to beautiful melodies, which change from time to time depending on who is leading the service. This is followed by maariv, which is the more formal evening service. It contains some call and response prayer, liturgy that is sung, and a silent prayer called the amidah.

Most of the service is conducted in Hebrew. We have a siddur (prayerbook) that contains Hebrew, transliterated Hebrew, and English words. You can follow along however you feel most comfortable, and page numbers are called out from time to time in case you get lost.

After davening (prayer) we have a kiddush and some light snacks.

Saturday morning services are more traditional. There are options for those preferring either single-sex seating, or mixed seating. The different parts of the service (Psukei d'zimrah, shacharit, the Torah service) are led by volunteers, and many different members of the community read from the Torah. If you'd like to participate as a leader, contact gabbais@missionminyan.org, and if you have questions about logistics, lunch and so on, contact shabbosAM@missionminyan.org.

6. What other events do you hold?
We hold periodic classes in people's homes. These usually involve some text study and discussion, and plenty of food and drinking. Contact the learning committee if you want to host or present, and watch the calendar for upcoming events!

On holidays, we often hold special events, for instance, megillah readings, sukkah gatherings, festival seudot (meals), and fundraising events like hamantaschen baking and house parties.

7. Who are these people leading services? Who gets to have an aliyah?
Volunteers like you. You can get in touch with the gabbais (ritual coordinators) and ask to get involved at gabbais@missionminyan.org.

8. I am not familiar with all the melodies the Minyan uses. How can I learn them?
On Friday nights, the nusach (musical theme) varies, but leaders often pick Shlomo Carlebach melodies, so that might be a good place to start. You can find many of his CDs at large record stores or online.

There are a number of great online resources where you can listen to MP3s of classic and contemporary Shabbat music. We have a set of musical resources where you can learn some of these tunes, check it out here.

9. Are the Minyan Orthodox or Conservative or Reform or what?
The Mission Minyan is not affiliated with a denomination, and our community is made of members who grew up in different movements, and who frequent a wide variety of different shuls in their free time.

We strive to be a pluralistic community where Jews of all stripes and backgrounds can feel comfortable. We hold the standards for kashrut and liturgy high to accommodate strictly observant members of the community, and we also incorporate many of the egalitarian practices of contemporary Jewish communities. Every decision that we make comes from a studied look at halacha (law) as well as an enthusiasm for considered innovation. We have found that while not everyone feels 100% accommodated all the time, all of us feel respected and included in the community.

10. Are you queer-friendly?
Yes. Very. The LGBT community is a visible, welcome and involved part of the Minyan.

11. Are you egalitarian?
Yes and no. Our community is comprised largely of feminists who believe in women's full equality in society and in Judaism. We try as much as possible to demonstrate that through our events insofar as we believe halacha allows.

Men and women share responsibilities in leading services, leyning Torah and so forth, within certain guidelines. In our community, women lead certain parts of services, like Kaballat Shabbat, Saturday morning Torah services and P'sukei D'zimrah. Men lead maariv, shacharit and mincha. If a women is reading Torah, a woman is given the accompanying aliyah, and if a man is reading, a man gets the aliyah.

Perhaps the chief innovation that you will notice is our definition of minyan. A minyan has traditionally meant a group of 10 men. The Mission Minyan has innovated upon that term to define the quorum for prayer needed in our community as 10 men and 10 women.

12. Are you kosher?
Food served at Mission Minyan events is hechsher kosher, prepared in kosher kitchens and is not cooked or carried on Shabbat. Meals that are served in individual homes vary depending on personal observance. You will find that people are very open about their personal practice.

13. How does the Minyan support itself?
Great question! Members of the community (this means you) make donations which enable us to rent space, purchase food, print siddurs and host our website.

All donations are welcome. The Minyan is a 501(c)3 and donations are tax deductible.

A popular amount is $110 – which is what it costs us to rent a room in the Women's Building for davening. If you get together with 3 friends, that's only $36 apiece!

If you'd like to make a donation, you can do so online by clicking here, or (better! No processing fees to us!) you can mail checks made out to the Mission Minyan to
Mission Minyan
2261 Market Street #447A
San Francisco, CA 94114

14. Is there a rabbi I can talk to?
There are a number of rabbis who are part of the Mission Minyan community, but none of them work for us in a rabbinical capacity.

15. I need some assistance or counseling, is there someone I can talk to?
The MM Chesed Committee is available to help serve the needs of community members who are sick, grieving, interested in spiritual/pastoral/religious counseling, in need of a special minyan, or simply going through a tough time. We also maintain a modest fund for emergency cash assistance for expenses related to urgent mental and/or physical health challenges or bereavement. Please contact chesed@missionminyan.org.

When the Chesed Committee, a lay community of spirited volunteer leaders, does not feel equipped to meet the needs of a community member, confidential referrals to Jewish Family Service and the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center can be made. These organizations provide intensive, longer-term social service, mental health and pastoral counseling and care.

16. What prayerbook do you use?
We have published our own siddur that includes the complete Friday night liturgy. On Saturday morning, we use the Birnbaum siddur. You are welcome to bring your own if you prefer.

17. I don't know anyone and it seems like everyone is in a tight community. How can I meet people?
Most of the people you see at the Mission Minyan didn't know each other a year ago. Community starts with showing up.

That said, we can help you ease your way in. Let us know ahead of time that you're coming and you'd like to join someone for a Shabbat dinner. The Shabbat table is a wonderful way to make new friendships in a more intimate setting than a huge Friday night service.

Join the Minyan mailing list and you will receive announcements roughly twice per month, including contact information about meal matching.

18. How can I join the mailing list?
Easy, just sign up here. It's a low volume, announcement-only list. You will receive 2 or 3 emails a month reminding the community about upcoming events, and you can get off the list anytime you like.

19. I have spots at my dinner table and would like to invite some minyan attendees. How do I do that?
Awesome. We love that. Send an email right now – don't wait – to our esteemed meal-matchers at mealwrangling@missionminyan.org.

20. I want the Mission Minyan to co-sponsor my event. What should I do?
In general, the Minyan does not co-sponsor events. Feel free to drop a note to the communications committee at sisterhood@missionminyan.org so that we can be in touch with you about your ideas.

21. I want to let Minyan community know about my own events. How can I get the word out to people?
There are a lot of great events taking place in the Jewish community of San Francisco, many of them planned by folks in the minyan! We've started a new resource called JensList (named for moderator Jen Naylor.) This is a way for everyone to let each other know about events that are not officially sponsored by the Mission Minyan.
To sign up for JensList, go here - once you sign up, you can send in your items to be announced and start hearing about others!

22. How is the minyan run? Who makes decisions about all this stuff?
The Mission Minyan is run by a group of committed volunteers who go by the name "machers." They form several committees, which are listed on the Contacts page.

If you're interested in getting more involved, make yourself known to one of these committees and we'll get you on board.

23. I have a question that wasn't answered here. Who can I ask?
The minyan's rotating administrative committee - a group of 5 volunteers who run logistics for the minyan - will be happy to try to help you out. Drop them a note at themack@missionminyan.org.