Finding Community within Community: Join a Chavurah!

Keeping Connected January 2019

Dear Friends,

I am excited to be part of an effort in collaboration with our lay leadership to increase opportunities for engagement and community building within the framework of our congregation.  Some of these programs will be happening under the umbrella of the Membership Committee.  We have many ideas and hope some of them will resonate with you.  If you are inspired by another idea or have heard of a program at another synagogue that you think would resonate with our members, please let me know.  Sometimes it takes someone who is outside of a system to bring about exciting change.

Ironically, the first idea that I would like to share with you, is a re-invention of the chavurah initiative that we began many years ago.  A chavurah is a small group that is established in a congregation in order to create a sense of community.  In the larger setting of a synagogue, it is easy to feel disconnected or intimidating to join in.  Participating in a chavurah, where an individual, couple or family can establish connections, can be a meaningful and rewarding aspect of synagogue life.  In Hebrew, the word “chavurah” comes from the word “chaver”, friend.  As we have seen in the past, participating in a chavurah can provide the opportunity to develop life-long friendships with people who have similar interests, hobbies and concerns.  For many, a chavurah can become like an extended family in the larger congregational setting.

For those who wonder what a chavurah might do together, it is really a decision of the group itself.  Some chavurot may be comprised of young families who want to celebrate a monthly Shabbat together or the holidays.  They may want take a Shabbat hike or build a sukkah together. Some chavurot may be a group of young 20-30 year-olds who want to go see music and have a sushi Shabbat!  Another chavurah may be a group of members who love watching movies and going to the theater. One might be a group of people who want to go camping and bring Judaism into nature.  Or… Perhaps there is an interest in a kosher wine tasting chavurah.  Perhaps there is a group of members that wants to get together on a monthly basis to play Jewish music or any type of music!  A chavurah can also be as simple as a group of empty nesters who want to meet up at a monthly Shabbat service and then go out to dinner together.  Most importantly, a chavurah is an opportunity for friendship and support within our larger congregational setting.

In the weeks ahead a small group of members will be developing and sending out materials to further explain our program, as well information about how to sign up to be in a chavurah.  I hope that you will consider this enriching opportunity in the days ahead.

Rabbi Shoshana M. Perry