Over the past decade, Sixth & I has redefined the 21st-century synagogue space through experimental approaches to programming and engagement that serve both the Jewish and greater Washington communities. Ten years ago, the historic synagogue-turned-AME Church on the corner of 6th and I Streets was a historic building in need of a purpose. Its purchase was based on an intuition that there was an unmet need in the community among young professional Jews who were no longer identifying in traditional ways. In just 10 years, Sixth & I has become the epicenter of Jewish life in Washington, DC, establishing itself as a place where contemporary Jewish experiences intersect with literature, live entertainment, and cutting-edge conversations.
With a multi-denominational and membership-free approach, Sixth & I invites Jews and their “Jewish-adjacent” friends in their twenties and thirties to explore their connection to Judaism in religious, cultural and social ways. Nearly every night, Sixth & I hosts programs spanning Jewish and cultural traditions, including Shabbat services, educational classes, illuminating dialogue groups, and re-imagined holiday celebrations. This offers young professionals a multitude of entry points to enhance or kick-start their contemporary Jewish experience. A wider audience is drawn to Sixth & I for our unparalleled line-up of author readings, concerts, and comedy shows. Annually, about 100,000 people participate in their programming.
In recent years, Sixth & I has increasingly been contacted by Jewish organizations, cultural centers, communities, and even churches, both in the U.S. and abroad, with the big questions and challenges facing so many faith-based and community-focused organizations. These institutions are eager to learn how to replicate facets of the Sixth & I model.
In response to the increasing number of requests for consulting, EJF Philanthropies sponsored the Inside Sixth & I conference, during which Sixth & I shared best practices with six organizations from around the country seeking to learn how to adapt elements of the Sixth & I operational and programmatic models to the needs of their own communities. EJF Philanthropies also provides general operating support for Sixth & I as well as support for other programs during the year.
Simone Friedman serves as Vice Chair of the the Sixth & I Board.