BJ is a big place, with a lot to do and a lot of people to meet (almost 4,000 members, if you’ve got some time!). While we love the sound of the whole congregation singing during services, we know that for some members it can be challenging to create a sense of community in such large spaces. And for those outside of the NYC area, that challenge seems to multiply with every mile of distance between us.

That’s why we’re working with BJ members to create havurot: small, self-organized groups based around shared interests or demographics. In these spaces, members can come together to build and deepen relationships, learn from one another, and create their own communities within BJ. In past years, more than 350 members have participated in this initiative, deeply enriching their connection to BJ and to Judaism.

Check out the list of havurot for this coming year below, and find your place at BJ! 

Please fill out this form to tell us which havurah you’d like to join. You must indicate your interest for havurot by Wednesday, November 9, 2022. Most havurot will begin meeting shortly afterwards, but some are starting earlier in November, so don’t delay in filling out the form!

Please note that because space is limited we may not be able to match everyone to their first choice. Participation in a havurah is a benefit of BJ membership.

Al Tashlikheinu/Do Not Cast Us Away As We Grow Old

This havurah will be a symmetric discussion among members of BJ who are in their 80s or older. We will focus on what we have learned in our 80s—in particular insights and experiences that friends, family, and fellow congregants decades younger than we are might wish to learn from us. Some of our gatherings will use that week’s Torah portion to help frame and guide our discussion.

  • Virtual
  • Meets monthly on Shabbat evenings, including Havdalah
  • Havurah leaders: Robert and Amy Pollack

Blessings in the Forest: A Havurah for Courageous Friendships

The purpose of this havurah is to begin to support BJ’s mission of a sanctuary for all via courageous friendships. The havurah will be structured to provide a safe place for BIPOC (led by a Créole Sephardic Jew) to begin sharing our ways of knowing and exploring our interconnectedness. If this sounds intriguing but the fuzziness of it feels a little scary, we invite you to jump into the unknown for a spiritual adventure of hope, joy, and prayer. In alignment with BJ’s mission of social justice, we will always be elevating our community’s most marginalized voices.

  • In person
  • Meets monthly (exact days and times TBD by the havurah)
  • Havurah leader: Meies Matz

BJ From East to West

Start your Shabbat morning with a walk through Central Park. Meet your neighbors to walk to shul together and enjoy the change of seasons and, as a bonus, you’ll be at services on time! Meet up at the Engineers’ Gate (5th Avenue and 90th Street) at 8:45 AM and start walking to BJ at 8:50 AM. This walk will be canceled for heavy rain or snow. First walks are November 5 and December 3. All ages welcome!

  • In person 
  • Meets monthly on Shabbat mornings
  • Havurah leader: Liz Greenstein

BJ in Brooklyn

This havurah invites Brooklyn members of BJ to gather for a monthly Friday night dinner, joining together with the sense of community and joy that connects us to BJ. Meals will either be potluck or catered (small fee).

  • In person
  • Meets monthly on Friday nights
  • Havurah leader: Lisa Safier

BJ in DC

Are you a BJ member living in the greater Washington area (including Virginia and Maryland), and looking to connect? Get to know other members in this region by joining the BJ in DC havurah. We will meet monthly to welcome Shabbat together.

  • Virtual
  • Meets on Friday nights
  • Havurah leader: Roger Kohn

BJ Walks-Sunday and BJ Walks-Weekdays

BJ Walks meets once a month at different subway-accessible locations around New York City to explore different neighborhoods. Participants should be able to walk 2+ miles at a moderate pace. The Sunday walks are primarily for those who work during the week and will move at a somewhat faster pace than the weekday explorations. The weekday walks will be able to visit locations closed on weekends. This is a participatory havurah—everyone will help research and/or lead at least one walk. 

  • In person
  • Meets monthly, either Sundays or weekdays
  • Havurah leader: Ilene Richman

Class of 2025

Do you have a child in the high school graduating class of 2025? Let’s strengthen the connections among ourselves and our children with a monthly Shabbat gathering. We’ll celebrate together with a Friday night dinner. 

  • In person
  • Meets bi-monthly on Friday nights
  • Havurah leader: Valerie Gerstein

Common Threads

In this havurah for grandparents, we’ll share our joys and experiences. There will be opportunities to celebrate Shabbat with grandchildren, including a meal and some of the blessings and songs. We will also find times to meet and share as adults.

  • In person
  • Meets monthly for Shabbat meals, and may meet some Jewish holidays
  • Havurah leaders: Jan Katz and Miriam and Larry Suchoff

Confronting the Hard Stuff

We come to shul seeking spiritual sustenance, yet sometimes find ourselves angry and resistant to the words of our sacred texts. Together we will explore some problematic Jewish texts and liturgy, and discuss possible responses to them. How do we react personally, and how might we respond as a BJ community, when some of the words of our prayers seem to conflict with important values? 

  • In person
  • Meets on Shabbat afternoons, starting in January, following BJ Community Kiddush
  • Havurah leaders: Martha Ackelsberg and Judith Plaskow

Downtown Havurah

Members of this havurah live in downtown Manhattan and gather together to stay connected to the BJ community despite the hurdle of living farther away from the synagogue. This havurah began before the pandemic and has shifted a number of times over the past three years to ensure health and safety for all. Depending on conditions, we will meet for Shabbat meals in person, or virtual gatherings.

  • Some gatherings in person, some on Zoom
  • Meets monthly
  • Havurah leader: Marcy Einhorn

Food, Friends, & Fun

This down-to-earth havurah will share good food and conversation, with Shabbat and spirituality as a backdrop. Dinners will be potluck, with everyone contributing something.

  • In person
  • Meets monthly on Friday nights
  • Havurah leader: Jane Moritz

Metro-Atlanta Havurah

For members who live in the greater Atlanta area, this havurah will bolster our connection to the BJ community. We will come together on Saturday afternoons and celebrate Shabbat together.

  • Some gatherings in person, some on Zoom
  • Meets monthly on Shabbat day
  • Havurah leaders: Robert and Mandi Griffin

Music Havurah

Amateur musicians and music lovers are invited to join us for this havurah, as a way to play the melodies we hold dear and get to know our fellow members who are also musicians. We look forward to opportunities to play together live as the pandemic conditions allow. Any talent level and all instruments and vocal abilities welcomed.

  • Virtual
  • Meets every two to three weeks
  • Havurah leader: Marcy Einhorn

Northwest Bronx Havurah

BJ members are in the Bronx! The Northwest Bronx Havurah is for BJ members who live in Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil, Kingsbridge, and surrounding areas. We’ll connect with others in our geographic region to celebrate Shabbat together.

  • Some gatherings in person, some on Zoom
  • Meets on Shabbat every other month
  • Havurah leaders: Les and Pamela Judd

Northeast Los Angeles Havurah

In this havurah, BJ members in the Los Angeles area will meet in intimate communal gatherings to foster social interaction, engage in Jewish learning/practice, honor life passages and personal milestones, and celebrate Jewish holidays. 

  • Some gatherings in person, some on Zoom
  • Meets monthly, exact day and time TBD
  • Havurah leaders: Robin Scherr and Richard Willson

Shabbat Dinner with Zemirot

Do you love to sing at your Shabbat table? This havurah will bring people together for a traditional Shabbat dinner with berakhot (blessings) and zemirot (Shabbat songs). If members are interested, we might also incorporate kosher wine tastings from Israel and other countries. 

  • In person
  • Meets monthly
  • Havurah leader: Lenore Weitzman

Shabbat Lunch in Philadelphia

If you live in the greater Philadelphia area and want to connect with other BJ members in the region, this is the havurah for you! We will meet monthly for a Shabbat potluck lunch, possibly around Rosh Hodesh, to forge and deepen relationships.

  • In person
  • Meets monthly on Shabbat afternoon
  • Havurah leader: Judy Gordon

Shabbat Study Group

This havurah will gather on Zoom one Shabbat afternoon a month to discuss Jewish texts, or perhaps the rabbi’s D’var Torah from that morning. We look forward to bringing together BJ members from all over the country to share Shabbat together, and to connect to this special community with learning and thoughtful conversation.

  • Virtual
  • Meets monthly on Shabbat afternoon
  • Havurah leader: Marie Sevy

Singing Shabbat Havurah

This havurah is a place to join our voices in song. All voices are invited! This will be a new iteration of the former BJ Sings havurah, and we will select songs from the former BJ Sings songbook as well as other sources. We will meet after Community Kiddush at BJ. First meeting November 5. 

  • In person
  • Meets monthly on Shabbat afternoon
  • Havurah leaders: Joni Brenner and Peggy Samuels

South Palm Beach County Snowbirds

Do you miss the local BJ community while you’re in Florida? In this havurah, seasonal residents of the Boca/Delray area will get together for singing, dinner, and conversation.

  • In person
  • Meets monthly on Friday evenings (possibly twice a month, depending on interest of the group)
  • Havurah leader: Carol Smokler

Thriving Solo

This havurah is for women approximately 60–80 years old who are on their own—those who are divorced, widowed, or never married, without kids or who do not want to burden their kids. We aim to assist each other through difficult times while also celebrating the good times, and want to make these years of our lives positive. While we have addressed issues such as wills, health care proxies, and adult family conflicts, we are primarily a social group. 

  • Virtual
  • Meets on the third Friday of the month from 5:00-6:00 PM
  • Havurah leader: Ellen Carni

Virtual Shabbat Dinner

If you want to celebrate Shabbat with other BJ members but aren’t ready to join others for meals indoors, join us to connect with others like you. This havurah will be split into clusters of three households who will each have dinner together on Zoom, to allow for intimacy and conversation.

  • Virtual
  • Meets on Friday nights, exact cadence and dates TBD
  • Havurah leaders: Suzana and Alan Caro