Teen Founds Jump-n-Jive Minyan

Most Shabbat worshippers expect decorum. But Adat Ari El’s new Jump-n-Jive minyan is different. Its founder, Aaron Kaychuck, describes the monthly Saturday morning service as “upbeat neo-Chassidic egalitarian.” The service is unusual partly because it combines traditional Conservative liturgy with exuberant song and dance, set to the beat of an African hand-drum. It is also distinctive because Kaychuck, who leads the congregants in prayer, is 15 years old.

In creating Jump-n-Jive, Kaychuck was inspired by his summers at Camp Ramah, his teachers at Milken Community High School, and the Chassidic songs and stories of the late Shlomo Carlebach. Rabbi Jonathan Bernhard oversees the services, which attract both teens and adults. In Kaychuck’s terms the “raw energy” of the teens is nicely balanced by the adults’ mature seriousness. True, grownups tend to be inhibited at first, but “the more teenagers there are, the more the adults warm up.”