Every year, BJ members create havurot (small, self-organized groups based around shared interests or demographics) to enrich their connection to each other, to BJ, and to Judaism. More than 350 members have participated in these havurot, reflecting a core value in BJ’s Community Covenant: relationships and connections are the foundation of a community. If you’re interested in a havurah, please reach out to Shuli Passow.
We are currently inviting BJ members to propose ideas for this year’s havurot and to learn more about becoming a havurah leader. If you have an idea–or even an inkling of an idea!–for a havurah, please fill out this form by August 21.
If you want to learn more about this initiative and what it means to take a leadership role, read on!
What’s a Havurah?
A havurah can be pretty much anything you want it to be—it could even be something you’re already doing!
Want to gather with wine lovers? Host virtual Shabbat dinners? Study Jewish texts on Tuesday evenings? Sit on a bench schmoozing with other parents while your kids have fun at the playground?
Whatever the structure and content, all we ask is that havurot:
- Build and deepen relationships by meeting at least 6 times between November and June.
- Be intentional about fostering relationships and community among your members. (we’ve got resources to help you!)
- Have a leader (or co-leaders).
How will this work?
Once we launch registration, all BJ members will have a chance to sign up for a havurah of their choosing. We will finalize the havurot in October, and then havurah leaders will work with their members to schedule gatherings and start meeting! (Based on the number of participants who sign up for each havurah, the nature of the havurah, or other factors, we may need to consolidate or tweak havurot.)
What’s the role of the havurah leader?
A havurah leader does NOT have to host, cook, teach, or facilitate every aspect of the havurah’s activities! The leader’s job is to get the havurah off the ground, keep the wheels turning, and communicate outside of havurah meetings so people stay connected in between gatherings.
BJ will provide guidance to help you start your havurah and keep it going; pair you with a ritual guide or mentor, if you want one; and offer resources and workshops.
I know people do things differently when it comes to Jewish practice. How will the havurot handle this?
We ask that all havurot follow a few standard practices regarding Shabbat and kashrut observance, and will make these guidelines clear to everyone who joins a havurah.
Can a havurah include people who are not BJ members?
At this time, participation in a havurah is a benefit of BJ membership.
This sounds interesting but I’m not sure I’m ready to jump in. Is there someone I can talk to about this?
Absolutely. Rabbi Shuli Passow, BJ’s chief program and engagement officer, is here to answer your questions, talk through ideas, and explore what leading a havurah could look like for you.
I have an idea for a havurah! What do I do?
Fill out this form by August 21. After the High Holy Days, all BJ members will have a chance to sign up for a havurah of their choosing, and we will finalize the havurot in October. (Based on the number of participants who sign up for each havurah, the nature of the havurah, or other factors, we may need to consolidate or tweak havurot.)
Once registration is complete, it’s up to you to work with your havurah members to determine a schedule and location for gatherings and to organize activities. We will be checking in with all havurah leaders periodically to see how things are going, and of course you can reach out at any time if you have questions or need support.
We will hold an initial gathering for leaders on Tuesday, October 17, at 7:00 PM, addressing topics such as building relationships within your havurah, troubleshooting problems that may arise, and general best practices for havurot.