This coming Tuesday, November 14, thousands of Jews will meet on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to march for Israel, an event which is expected to reach historic proportions. With the march planned for an afternoon start, many will have the opportunity to not only meet with other members of the American Jewish community earlier in the day, but also pray with them — an opportunity which has caught the attention of Nader Bolour of Englewood, who has planned a minyan right outside of the White House first thing in the morning.
The sunrise minyan will begin at 6:15am and will take place “as close to the White House as we can possibly get with security restrictions,” according to Bolour. Because the march on Washington also falls on Rosh Chodesh Kislev, the service will include hallel, which will be led by famous chassidish singer Beri Weber. Davening will be followed by divrei Torah and a breakfast, to give attendees chizuk before they head to the National Mall.
Bolour is a long-time believer in davening neitz, which entails waking up before sunrise and reaching the amidah right as dawn breaks. “About 18 years ago, I felt like I needed some inspiration in my Judaism,” Bolour shared. “My rabbi then told me to start davening neitz — no exceptions. And so, I just started doing it. And it really gave me a different energy in my life, one which was spiritual, positive and fulfilling.”
Bolour reiterated the many explanations as to why neitz is such a powerful experience. “As the Tosfot explains, the sunrise can be unpredictable, and davening neitz shows God that you are giving up your own set schedule for Him. In return, He protects you for the entire day.” Bolour contrasted this explanation with that of the Ari, who likens neitz to a method of control over your own destiny. “If you daven neitz, then you lead the day.”
Neitz became so important to Bolour that even after neitz minyanim were canceled at many synagogues during the pandemic, he decided to begin organizing the minyanim himself. “We thought it would be nice to get together at least once a month for Rosh Chodesh, and so two and a half years ago, we planned the first neitz celebration which was joined by 150 people,” he recalled. Since then, Bolour has been spearheading these monthly neitz minyanim at various locations, complete with singing and dancing, the most recent of which had a turnout of 250.
After the heart wrenching events of October 7, Bolour was inclined to organize a neitz gathering near the Gaza border for Israeli soldiers heading into battle and the surrounding supporters. But just as he began piecing the event together, Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Yeshivas Elimelech in Washington, D.C. gave him a call which would shift his focus.
“Rabbi Herzfeld shared with me that one of his students was putting together one of the largest marches on Washington in history,” Bolour explained. “After he urged me to do the neitz minyan in D.C., I called my rabbi to discuss the idea. My rabbi told me that this march is incredibly important, and that we owe so much gratitude to the American government for being true supporters of Israel during this time. Having an inspirational neitz with Jews from all backgrounds will be our opportunity to give a public thanks.”
Bolour added that davening neitz on this historic day will also enable those of us in America to do our part in supporting our brothers and sisters on the front lines in Israel. “We can all take this on; we can all show up a little earlier to open up the gates of shamayim and pray for the protection of Israel.”
Join the neitz minyan by the White House on Tuesday, November 14, beginning at 6:15AM. Join the WhatsApp chat for updates on location and security: https://chat.whatsapp.com/FSvJf4UiVkeHpnKpsbT4Lu