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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  or reach out to the individual havurah connectors directly by using the CBI Directory (for logged in ShulCloud users only) or by asking Amy Stein to be connected.

Current Havurot that are open to new members:

Creative WritingChaya Grossberg

People of all ages are invited to join writing exploration and sharing on a variety of topics including intergenerational Jewish themes. Meetings are held in person and are 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. Meetings are held at CBI every two weeks at 5:00 pm on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month.

The Found Tribe: A Jews of Color Havurah, Emet Marwell

Are you a Jew of Color (JOC) looking for a tight-knit community with others who truly understand both the challenges and joys of being a JOC? Join The Found Tribe, a havurah for self-identified JOCs to build community, find support, go on fun adventures, and just hang out. 

*A note on the name: Out of the 12 Tribes of Israel, 10 are considered lost. Many have theorized that specific pockets of Jewish communities (who often could be considered People of Color) around the world are descendants of one of the Lost Tribes. The name “The Found Tribe” evokes a sense of belonging and reclamation of JOC’s place in Jewish spaces. 

Healing Circle, 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. 

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.

HikingMarla Brodsky

Enjoy scenic, moderate hikes each month with a consistent group of people, all genders, ages 18 and up. Build community while exploring the trails around us. 

Jewish History and Life, Henny Lewin

This havurah is a peer-led study group and will 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. Weekly meetings are held on Zoom every Tuesday from 12:00 - 1:00 pm. 

Jews Read Palestinian Stories, Judi Wisch

Many of us grew up celebrating the 20th century miracle of Israel reborn as political state. Our hearts are breaking over the unimaginable violence and loss of life of Israelis and Palestinians this year. Might reading the personal narratives of Palestinians over this last century shed light on our understanding of the conflict? Might we be able to simultaneously hold the stories and pain of both peoples?   This monthly intergenerational gathering is an opportunity to come together with others who like to read and who are interested in better understanding the experience of Palestinians through their own voices. Participants will help select what is read, and may include books (fiction and non-fiction), short stories, and poetry. Meetings will be held on the third Sunday of each month from 4:00-6:00 pm. The first gathering is scheduled for February 18. If you are interested in learning more, please fill out this short Google form 

Judi Wisch is a veteran Jewish educator who lived in Israel between 1973-1983. During that time she received a BA from Hebrew University in Jewish History and Geography, and worked at Neve Shalom / Wahat al Salam facilitating conflict resolution workshops for Israeli and Palestinian high school students.  

Mah Jongg, Beverly Blatt

Monthly gatherings bring people together for playing, conversation, and learning. All levels are welcome including those new to the game who can learn from experienced players in the group. Meetings are held at CBI on the first Thursday evening of the month.

Mazel Tots, for Gan Keshet Families, Aaron Berkenwald

A Havurah for parents with young children in Gan Keshet to gather, “kvetch and kvell” about the ups and downs of parenthood.  Bagels and coffee included. Come share stories, exchange tips and create lasting friendships with other jewish parents in the community. 

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! 

Storytelling, Chaya Grossberg

Join this monthly group to craft and to share your stories.  The focus will be on storytelling as a performance art, not a support group vibe. Themes will vary and speakers can ask for positive and constructive feedback from the group, if desired. Participants will work with humor, emotional evocation, physical scenery, painting a picture, and different storytelling styles. The first meeting will be held on February 6 at 6:00 pm at the Lilly Library in Florence.

Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse  

In this Havurah we will meet to share our stories of our childhood sexual abuse in hopes that connecting in a group will help us heal collectively. We will read healing texts – prayers, poems and even sing songs. Group members can bring art, poems and songs that they created that are helping with their healing process. We will share our pain and be witnessed by others. We will end with a meditation. During our shares we will simply witness and listen and not respond to anything the person shared. We know that being heard and having space held for us is how we transform our isolating pain to an empowering connection. Our shares can be about what happened in childhood or anything else we are dealing with currently. For the sake of everyone in the room, our shares won’t contain graphic details. If our abusers are Jewish and give us complicated feelings regarding Judaism, we will work to disentangle the abuse from Judaism and find ways to heal with Jewish prayers. If our abusers are family members, we will find ways to create new family, and new loving relationships. We will do rituals to remove the abuse from our bodies. We will find ways to not be steered by these deep wounds anymore. We know that healing is possible, especially when we are together, especially when we share our pain and when we hold the pain of others. This will be a peer-led group. It is not therapy and will not be run by a therapist. We will meet the second Thursday of every month at 7:15pm starting on October 12 in classroom 2 at CBI. Email Amy Stein to be connected to the leader of this havurah or just show up. If you wish to remain anonymous you can email Amy with a different email or name. We won’t disclose any information that is shared in the meetings nor will we disclose who comes to the meetings. All genders welcome. 

UkuleleDonna 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. Gatherings 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. Meetings are held every two weeks at 6:00 pm on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month.

Women’s Niggunim Sound Healing, Nina Umai Spiro 

Join us for an open gathering on Thursday, June 6 at 6:00 pm on Abundance Farm  
We will focus on experiencing the power of our own voices as spiritual sound healing instruments while singing sacred niggunim together as living prayers. Each woman is invited to bring a niggun to sing in our circle and will be joined by all our voices in unison. The havurah will continue to meet on the first Thursday of each month. 

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

Am Yisrael Chai-vurah, Leah Finch

Caregivers Havurah, Naomi Tannen

Documentary Films, Ellen Pader

Genealogy, Paula Ressler

Jewish Cultural Artists, Rachel Leader

Ladyslipper Shtetl, Aaron Kagan

Life Legacy Writing, Judith Breier

Madrachim, Emmy Marks & Amelia Richmond-Cayen

Men’s Group, Owen Mitz

Rosh Chodesh, New Moon Rising, Sylvie Jensen

Shabbat Dinner, Bonnie Diamond and Dan Price

Veg Pod, Elly Alexander

Visual ArtistsJennifer Lotstein

Wounds into Wisdom, Leslie Leff

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, June 17 2024 11 Sivan 5784