Are there ways you want to gather? Take part in the Havurah Initiative, a new experiment in Jewish gathering from CBI!

What is a “havurah“?

(חבורה Hebrew: “fellowship”, plural havurot)

noun

  1. A small group of like-minded Jews who assemble for the purposes of facilitating Shabbat and holiday prayers and rituals, sharing communal experiences such as lifecycle events, or Jewish learning.
  2. An experiment in Jewish gathering where individuals and families join together around a shared interest, commitment or identity
  3. A non-hierarchical, peer-led community that helps participants live joyful, meaningful Jewish lives

The Story

Throughout Jewish history, Jews have formed intentional communities called “havurot.”  While the word “havurot” has meant different things to different people over time and today, it generally connotes a relatively small group of people who see themselves as connected and committed to each other in some meaningful way.  Members of havurot often gather together to celebrate Shabbat, holidays, and key moments in the Jewish life cycle.

In the zeitgeist (spirit or mood of the time) of 1960’s America, a Havurah movement emerged that served as a counter cultural phenomenon in relation to the organized Jewish community of their day. Going against the grain of organized Synagogue communities, havurot were typically organized without formal hierarchy, honoring all people as lay leaders and having no central Rabbi. They created communities around shared values and sought to live and explore their Jewish lives together.

“Havurah: An Experiment in Jewish Gathering” is a new initiative hosted by Congregation B’nai Israel which will provide support to individuals and families who are interested in gathering and building community with others. We want to support you in developing homegrown, peer-led, Jewish gatherings.  The goal of this initiative is to provide a platform for people to fill in gaps they experience in current Jewish programming and offerings. There are many ways for us to gather with others to find meaning at the intersection of our Jewish identities – as parents, young adults, spiritual seekers,  members of the queer community, etc. Each of our havurot will be organized around different themes, such as:

  • Young Adults
  • Jewish Mindfulness and Meditation
  • Rosh Chodesh (New Moon Ritual)
  • Interfaith/Blended Families
  • Young Families
  • LGBT Folks
  • (Your Havurah right here!)

Interested in joining a Havurah?

Havurot will be developed and available to join over the course of the spring to summer 2018 season. Updates will be posted here and on CBI’s Facebook page. You can also sign up for the Havurah Initiative newsletter mailing list. See the Contact Us & Stay Updated section of this page for more details.

Want to lead a havurah?

We are currently looking for potential “Havurot Coordinators.”  Each havurah will have a coordinator who will serve as a lead organizer.  While the havurot are intended to be non-hierarchical and peer-led, the coordinator will play a critical role in helping to recruit, market and administer the group.  Coordinators will be paid a $1000 stipend for their work. Rolling deadline for applying, one year commitment to the project.

Havurah Coordinator Job Description & Application

(Note: This application is to both propose an idea that you have for a havurah theme, and to apply to be a havurah coordinator. If you have an idea, but don’t have the interest in leadership, please still be in touch with Molly Bajgot, CBI Havurah Organizer, at havurah@cbinorthampton.org. If you are interested in both leading and proposing an idea, please continue below.)

Responsibilities:

  1. Offer a vision of how you would like to see the community gather, and commit to seeing that plan out for at least 1 year from the creation of the havurah

  2. Form timelines and outreach plans for gathering community around your proposed idea

  3. Do outreach to potential havurah members and cultivate relationships with others in the community group, and support others to build relationships in the group

  4. Set a calendar of programs for the havurah, at a minimum of one program per month

  5. Ensure that all havurah gatherings are well organized and facilitated.

  6. Help promote leadership development among fellow havurah participants.

  7. Meet with area havurah coordinators and organizers as scheduled (monthly or bi-monthly)

  8. Be reliable in staying in contact with the Havurah Organizer (Molly Bajgot) and other havurah leaders in the community via email and in person communication in between events and meetings.

  9. This position requires a strong task manager. You will be in charge of the event planning, as well as organizing people to come together. Strong candidates will have excellent oral and written communication skills, task management, and interpersonal skills.

What’s in it for you?

  1. Leadership development, Jewish enrichment and support from the Havurah Organizer, Molly Bajgot, who is available to support you in setting and meeting your goals on the above responsibilities and with CBI rabbis

  2. Compensation: a stipend of $1000 over the course of the year to use at your discretion.

  3. Additional programming money to spend on food, bringing in speakers, your own leadership and professional development, hosting programs or retreats, etc.

  4. The chance to shape the face of our Jewish community in the Pioneer Valley and build a community that is dear to you!

What’s in it for CBI?

  1. We get the chance to get to know you better, your leadership, and to work with you to better meet the needs of our community.

  2. The chance to offer more entry points into communal Jewish activity

  3. Creating a more vibrant, sustainable Jewish community!

To Apply:

If you feel like you resonate with what is written above, and that you are up for the responsibilities identified, please submit your vision to us by filling out the full application, available here:

Click to download application (PDF)

Contact Havurah Organizer, Molly Bajgot at havurah@cbinorthampton.org to submit your application.

Contact Us & Stay Updated

E-Mail: Molly Bajgot, havurah@cbinorthampton.org

Havurah Mailing List: Sign up here!

Facebook: Congregation B’nai Israel of Northampton