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What is the Havurah Initiative?

Havurah: An Experiment in Jewish Gathering” is an initiative hosted by Congregation B’nai Israel that supports the development of 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 by providing the structure and support for gathering and forming mini-communities that foster deep, caring, supportive relationships. 

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, outdoor enthusiasts, bakers, and more. Each of our havurot are organized around different themes of their own choosing and meet on an ongoing basis. We welcome your ideas for starting new groups based on your interests.

Our havurot have a minimum of 7 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 who coordinates the logistics of the group and is responsible for reporting. This initiative is funded by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation which provides a stipend to connectors for the first two years and program funds to all 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:

Veg Pod Havurah, Elly Alexander,

Adults interested in learning more about plant-based eating are invited to join this havurah. The meals we share will be vegan, but the group is open to anyone interested in learning about compassionate cooking especially for Jewish holiday celebrations. This group is for veg-oriented people who want to connect for fun and friendship, enjoy delicious vegan food, share recipes, and discuss topics related to compassionate eating and taking care of the earth. We will gather monthly on Sunday evenings. Next gathering: January 8, in person.

Hilltown Havurah, Marla Brodsky,

All hilltown adults and friends are invited to join a monthly outdoor gathering on Saturday evenings for havdalah, bonfire, discussion, food and drinks.

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, 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.

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. As conversations about Israeli politics can get heated since people have varying and diverse viewpoints about this topic, we want to make sure people are aware that everyone's views are welcome and no harassment or derisive comments will be allowed. 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. The next gathering will be held on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 1 pm on Zoom. We will continue discussing the American Jews' role in Israel. All are welcome. Attendance at the last meeting is not a requirement for this next discussion.

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. This havurah will meet in person on Thursday, February 2 at 6:30 pm.

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! 

New Havurot in the works: (Connectors needed*):

Jewish Holiday Celebration Havurah

This new havurah welcomes people of all ages to gather for Jewish holidays and/or Shabbat. Gatherings will be outdoors in the summer, spring, and fall, and will likely be on Zoom in the winter as a Covid precaution. Havurah members share leadership and this group invites the richness of varied Jewish knowledge among its members. This Havurah is projected to be multigenerational, everyone from babies to elders included, LGBTQ inclusive and to hopefully focus on sharing of holidays in unique ways that meet the needs of the members.

Family Havdalah Havurah

Potluck havdalah gatherings with other families one Saturday per month.

* Connectors manage communication, planning, and reporting, and receive a stipend of $1,000 per year for the first two years. Please contact Amy Stein to learn more. 

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

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

Start a New Havurah

Want to start your own Havurah or have ideas for new groups?

We are currently accepting applications for new Havurot.  Each Havurah needs to have a "Havurah connector" who serves as a lead organizer.  While the Havurot are intended to be non-hierarchical and peer-led, the coordinator plays a critical role in helping to recruit, market and administer the group.  The coordinators are paid a $1000 stipend for their work. Rolling deadline for applying, one year commitment to the project.

To learn more and to apply to start a Havurah, click here



Tue, February 7 2023 16 Shevat 5783