Kehilat Hadar was founded in 2001 out of a desire to create a vibrant, intensive, egalitarian prayer community that could draw people from across the denominational spectrum. As Kehilat Hadar succeeded and grew over the years, the time came to take the animating vision of the minyan and begin to expand it further, both to strengthen and encourage the creation of other communities like Kehilat Hadar and to develop this model of community in the realm of Jewish learning.
As a result, two of Kehilat Hadar's original founders—Rabbi Ethan Tucker and Rabbi Elie Kaunfer—along with Kehilat Hadar's former Scholar-in-Residence—Rabbi Shai Held—founded Mechon Hadar as a separate institution in June 2006. Mechon Hadar aims to revitalize prayer, study, and community life among young Jews in America, through two main divisions:
- Yeshivat Hadar: A full-time text study and social action program on the Upper West Side of Manhattan open to men and women.
- The Minyan Project: Education, consulting and networking for prayer communities.
Kehilat Hadar and Mechon Hadar are separate institutions—with separate funding and leadership structures—that nonetheless share the same guiding vision of an egalitarian community that can revitalize Jewish communal life. Despite Mechon Hadar's broader mission, it is a natural outgrowth of Kehilat Hadar's successes and continues to have a special relationship with the minyan. Mechon Hadar's work with other minyanim is heavily grounded in the Mechon's founders' experience with Kehilat Hadar, which functions in many ways as a flagship for the independent minyan scene. Yeshivat Hadar students participate in Kehilat Hadar programs, the Yeshiva enables Kehilat Hadar to offer a daily minyan in the community, and there is collaboration on learning projects. Through the shared vision and joint endeavors, the goal is to create a fuller Jewish community that can enrich all who come in contact with it.