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What is the Havurah Initiative?

The havurah initiative at CBI supports the development of homegrown, peer-led, Jewish micro-communities that foster deep interpersonal connection among members.  

There are many ways for us to build community and to find meaning at the intersection of our Jewish identities – as parents, young adults, spiritual seekers, outdoor enthusiasts, bakers, and more. The havurah intiative is a platform that supports opportunities to share Shabbat, to learn together, to share stories, to explore interests, and to incorporate Jewish ritual into our lives. Havurot are open to CBI members as well as non-members. 

Havurot have 7-15 members, meet 9 times per year or more, have a Jewish focus, and share leadership among its members. These are intended to be small groups of committed members who meet regularly. Each Havurah has a connector or co-connectors who cultivate the vision of the havurah, manage communication and scheduling, and report back to the CBI havurah coordinator. 

Funding by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation provides stipends to connectors for the first two years and program funds to havurot for the first five years. 

Want to learn more about the Havurah Initiative? 
Read more at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and watch a short video.

Join a Havurah

Interested in joining a Havurah?

Fill out this Interest Form  

Current Havurot that are open to new members. 
For more information, reach out directly to the people listed below.

Jewish History and Life Havurah, Henny Lewin, hennylewin@yahoo

This havurah will meet on Zoom every Tuesday from 12:00 - 1:00 pm starting September 26. This study group grew out of a long-standing Tanach text-study with Rabbi David. This past semester the group was peer-led and collectively studied The Book of Revolutions, by Rabbi Ed Feld. The group decided to continue as a peer-led study group and begin by reading The Story of the Jews, by Simon Schama, a comprehensive analysis and overarching view of Jewish history. There will be opportunities to pursue some of the topics in greater depth and textually study excerpts from famous commentators. Henny Lewin, a national award winning Jewish educator, will serve as the facilitator. This study group is open to people of all backgrounds who do not have to belong to any synagogue or even be Jewish, as long as they are interested in Jewish learning.

A new havurah aimed at helping children harmed by antisemitic conduct in schools, Myles Jacobson, 413-531-2175

At a middle school in Belchertown, fifty students performed Nazi salutes and talked up the value of death camps.  This behavior took place repeatedly over a two-month period.  An initial complaint to the school was ignored.  Parents of the Jewish children in the school asked to remain anonymous because the children were afraid of retribution. This story was reported in The Hampshire Gazette on April 23, 2023. Antisemitic conduct is happening in schools.  It is on the rise around the country, across the state and here in Hampshire County.
Links to learn more: 2022 Antisemitism in Schools Survey, ADL report, Southern Poverty Law Center Report

Unfortunately, as yet, although there is a lot of concern, there appears to be no organized effort to help ameliorate the harm to students caused by antisemitic conduct.
The purpose of this havurah is to form a working group with the following, related objectives: 1. To  demystify and pay close attention to our own reactions to antisemitism;   2. To learn about the nature of the harm suffered by Jewish school children and their families as a result of antisemitic conduct;  3. To determine what kind of assistance, if any, might be effective in ameliorating that harm; and 4. To provide or help arrange for assistance to the school children and their families harmed by antisemitic conduct.   To start with, meetings will be scheduled once a month, in person (if feasible), and with occasional Zoom meetings to accommodate guest speakers. The group is open to 15 members. 

Traveling Song Havurah, Mare Berger

Do you love to sing? Do you believe that music has the power to heal?  
Join this new havurah and sing together once or twice per month on weekend afternoons in Cooley Dickinson Hospital, the Cancer Connection, and shelters. Sing for the sick, for the dying, for those receiving chemo and radiation treatments, with the families of loved ones who are sick, and for the staff who care for the sick.  No singing experience is necessary; songs will be super easy/accessible and can be learned in the moment. We will follow appropriate Covid protocols and will only sing in areas with non-infectious people. While Covid is on the rise, we will wear masks. 

Ukulele Havurah, Donna Sarro,

Fans of the ukulele unite! Whether you are an experienced player or are brand new to this instrument and want to learn, this havurah is for you. Monthly gatherings are planned for Wednesday evenings from 6:00-8:00 and will include playing, learning, singing, and exploring music ranging from Jewish music and klezmer to all kinds of secular music that members of the group want to play together. Some instruments will be available to borrow.Contact  to learn more.

Exploring Aging Havurah, Alice Szlosek, 

A new havurah for people 65+ to discuss the joys and challenges of aging and to support each other as we age. Discussion themes will be selected by members of the group and may include: aging alone or in relationships; fear of disability and/or losing independence; end of life considerations; finding purpose, meaning, joy at this stage of life; changing identities; investigating Jewish wisdom on aging. This group meets monthly on Tuesdays 3:00-5:00 pm in members’ homes. 

The Creative Writing Havurah, Chaya Grossberg,

People of all ages are invited to join monthly writing exploration and sharing on a variety of topics including intergenerational Jewish themes. Meetings will be screen-free; bring your notebooks and pens instead of computers. The connector has extensive experience leading writing groups and will guide the group towards a shared leadership model to allow everyone to lead writing prompts and discussions. The first meeting will be held on Monday, June 26 from 5:00-6:30pm. All meetings will be held in person. This is a screen-free havurah, no computers or Zoom.

Visual Artists Havurah, Jennifer Lotstein,

This group welcomes 10-12 artists to share work and support each other, to discuss spiritual growth through art, to study Jewish artists, and to take field trips to galleries and museums. This group will meet monthly on the last Thursday of the month 6:30-8:30, beginning September 28.

Hilltown Havurah, Marla Brodsky,

Join a monthly outdoor gathering of Jewish Hilltown adults on Saturday evenings for havdalah, bonfire, discussion, food and drinks.

*There has also been interest in a family-centered Hilltowns Havurah. If you would like to discuss the possibility of becoming a connector for this group, please reach out to Amy Stein,

Caregivers Havurah, Naomi Tannen,

A group of people who take care of loved ones who are ill or differently abled to connect through the challenges and sweetness of being a caregiver. 1-2 openings available. 

Hearing Our Voices, Knowing Our Stories (Women in Jewish Texts), Tiertza -Leah Schwartz,

Interested in learning about the stories of women in Jewish texts? Wondering what their relevance is to us today? Join for a monthly discussion of Jewish women in text. We'll read, learn, and explore the stories of these powerful ancestors. We meet monthly on the second Tuesday of the month from 5:15-6:45 mostly on Zoom and occasionally in person.

Healing Circle Havurah, Bonnie Diamond,

The Healing Circle Havurah is a spiritual support group for people living with illness. It is based on the belief that illness can deepen our spiritual journeys, and provide an opportunity to connect more deeply with ourselves, with the sacred, and with those that we care about. The group fosters ways to listen to our inner wisdom and provides a safe space to cultivate kindness, patience and love. Monthly meetings are held on Sundays at 4:00, in person at CBI. 

Mah Jongg Havurah, Beverly Blatt,

The Mah Jongg havurah  brings players together for playing, conversation, and learning, including exploring the history of Jewish women playing Mah Jongg. All levels are welcome including those new to the game who can learn from experienced players in the group. 

The Ohel Minyan, Sara Farber,

The mission of the Ohel Minyan Havurah is to nurture and sustain a halakhically traditional, egalitarian, multi-generational Jewish community in Northampton, MA. We are a community built around our love of communal prayer and a desire to help one another through life stages, challenges, losses, and celebrations. We meet daily for morning minyan in the backyards of the minyan coordinators. Everyone is welcome. Sign up here to let us know you will be coming to minyan. Visit our website for details. Join us for the monthly Rosh Hodesh Minyan at CBI also! 

Israeli Politics and Culture, Rivka Cooper,

This havurah engages its members in discussions about the politics and culture of Israel using articles from sources such as Haaretz, The Times of Israel, etc. to find interesting pieces about topics facing modern Israelis. We also discuss how these issues affect American Jews. This havurah is committed to being a safe place for everyone to share their opinions. Each month a different member will choose an article and prepare several questions for the havurah discussion.

List of CBI havurot that have reached capacity and are currently closed:

Shabbat Dinner Havurah, Bonnie Diamond and Dan Price

South Street Neighborhood Havurah, Amy Meltzer

Family Havdalah and Holiday Havurah, Sara Schieffelin

Ladyslipper Shtetl, Aaron Kagan

Life Legacy Writing, Judith Breier

Men’s Group Havurah, Owen Mitz

The Shoah (Holocaust) Community Education Havurah, Alan Berkenwald

Veg Pod Havurah, Elly Alexander

Havurah hosted at the Jewish Community of Amherst and open to the CBI community:

The Music Lovers’ Havurah, Rivka Cooper,

This havurah will bring together music lovers to learn about music with which they are not yet familiar, and have the opportunity to share music pieces/songs which they love. During each meeting, a member will choose a song or piece/movement of their choice, we will listen to it several times (time permitting), and the havurah will discuss various aspects of the music: its history, artist/songwriter(s), meaning, and genre. At the end of each meeting, one member will share a Jewish song: klezmer, traditional, or anything in between so we can increase our knowledge of Jewish music, as well.

The Modern Great Jewish Thinkers Havurah reads and discusses works which focus on Jewish philosophy, culture, faith, and other aspects of Jewish thought. Each month, a different member of the havurah chooses a short work by a modern Jewish thinker, and prepares several questions for the group to ponder. We meet either in-person or via Zoom, depending on the wishes of the havurah members. For more information, please contact Rivka Cooper at

Want to Start a New Havurah?

We are currently accepting applications for new havurot.  Each havurah must have a connector who serves as a lead organizer.  While havurot are intended to be non-hierarchical and peer-led, the connector plays a critical role in managing communication and scheduling for the group, cultivating the vision of the havurah, filing reports, and attending check-in meetings with CBI's havurah coordinator.  Connectors are paid a  stipend of $1,000 per year for the first two years for their work getting the group up and running. Rolling deadline for applying, one year commitment to the project.

Please answer the questions on this application and email it to Amy Stein, 
Reach out to Amy with questions anytime.


Mon, September 25 2023 10 Tishrei 5784