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What is a Reconstructionist Jew?

Reconstructionist Jews espouse a progressive, contemporary approach to Jewish life which integrates a deep respect for traditional, communal Jewish practices with the intellectual and political impulses of democracy and pluralism. A Reconstructionist Jew is strongly committed to tradition and to the search for contemporary meaning. Reconstructionists encourage all Jews to reclaim our shared heritage and to participate in the building of Jewish community and in shaping what Judaism will be in the future.

When are services?

We have a minyan every Wednesday from 8:30 to 9:00 am. It’s a time to recognize the holiness of creation or say Kaddish for a loved one and still get to work early. On Rosh Chodesh, we start at 8:15 am.

Havurah's service schedule on Friday nights varies, so it’s best to check our online calendar. Our Dorot Service begins at 6:00 pm, while our big monthly Kabbalat Shabbat – a joyful, hour-long songfest – gets underway at 7:30 pm, preceded by a 6:30 pm dinner (by reservation). Saturday morning services begin at 10:00 am, and we have several models throughout the year. We also have occasional Friday night services without dinner, usually focused on a particular theme.

How much singing is there? How much Hebrew is there?

Music is a very important part of life at Havurah. When it comes to Hebrew, we often move back and forth between the time-honored language of prayer and English. We find that people often discover a level of comfort with the ancient rhythms of Hebrew, coming to embrace a poetic idiom that works less well in translation. In many cases, the major prayers and songs are transliterated. We are constantly augmenting our repertoire with new contemporary music.

How long has the Havurah community been around? What’s the history?

In 1978 several families got together to discuss how we could instill Judaism in our lives in a participatory group. Eventually we started having services and study groups. In 1979 we hired Rabbi Alan Berg as a part-time rabbi. We came from various Jewish backgrounds, but our overall intention was to include women and men equally in every aspect of religious life, to incorporate a lot of singing, to encourage everyone to participate, and to provide a way for members to be intimately involved in the Jewish education of their children. We determined very early on to honor and fully include the members of households who are not Jewish but wish to be active in our communal life.

Rabbi Roy Furman was our second rabbi, and he served for about five years. During these early years, Havurah was a Reform congregation. We met in members’ homes and at the Unitarian Fellowship on Oleson Road before moving to the MJCC to hold services and Shabbat School.

In 1987, we hired Rabbi Joey Wolf, and at his suggestion a few years later, we began to explore our affinities with the Reconstructionist movement. Our identification with social change movements, our respect for diversity, and our commitment to welcoming a rich and open conversation about Jewish life sealed the deal.

In 1998, after a concerted effort to discover an urban location and renovate two warehouses, we moved into our building. The move was the culmination of an enthusiastic fundraising effort that embraced the full membership and expanded our program possibilities.

In 2000, we hired our Educational Director, Deborah Eisenbach-Budner, whose oversight of adult and family learning has enriched us. We also have our own cemetery, as founding members of Havurah Shalom deemed it to be one of the hallmarks of a fully functioning Jewish congregation.

After 30 years as Havurah's spiritual leader, Rabbi Joey retired in April 2017. In August 2017, we welcomed Rabbi Benjamin Barnett as our rabbi. Now, using a new, more intentional approach to leadership and collaborative team work, we look forward to growing as a community committed to diversity, equity, education, social activism, spiritual growth, and community engagement.

How many members are there?

We have more than 400 households.

Is there childcare?

Yes, most of the time childcare is offered. Check with the office to make sure it’s scheduled for the service or event you plan to attend. Call 503-248-4662 during the week between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. (The office closes at 3:00 pm on Fridays.)

Are there children’s services?

Havurah offers several programs/services aimed at children and their families. Check our online calendar to see what services are coming up!

Tot Shabbat (Saturday mornings from 10:30 am to 11:30 am) is for families with kids ages 0-5. Parents and children celebrate Shabbat with singing, blessings, and storytelling, led by Deborah Eisenbach-Budner or community leaders.

Dorot services (Friday evenings from 6:00 to 7:30 pm) are for families with kids of all ages, and for people of all ages. Led by Havurah members, these song-filled, informal services are welcoming to children but not necessarily focused on them. A potluck dinner follows the service.

What’s involved in bar/bat mitzvah preparation? How long do you have to be a member to become a bar/bat mitzvah?

Because we feel it is important for children to come of age in a community to which they and their parents are connected, Havurah requires families to be members of the congregation for at least three years before having a bar/bat mitzvah for a son or daughter. For most families, preparation for bar/bat mitzvah includes participation in our Shabbat School and Hebrew classes, followed by private tutorials for a year before the bar/bat mitzvah service. If you are interested in this process, contact the office to get a copy of our bar/bat mitzvah handbook. It contains all the details you’ll need to get started. We also have a mentor program, in which Havurah members team with families to guide them through the process. For specific questions, contact our B’nai Mitzvah Committee via email, or call 503-248-4662.

What kind of youth education is offered?

Shabbat School is for children from kindergarten through 6th grade. It’s a participatory, parent co-op-style program. Classes are divided according to grade, with about 10-20 students in each class. Parents teach their child’s class one quarter per year (four classes) as part of a team. There’s lots of support and information to help parents plan the lessons (curriculum goals, activities, lesson plans from prior years, games, and books), and every teaching team meets with Deborah as part of the planning process. No one should be intimidated by teaching – there is no such thing as not knowing enough! What better way to learn (or remind oneself) than to teach our kids? Participating in Shabbat School is a great community-builder because people get to know other families very well. Classes meet roughly twice a month on Saturday afternoons from 3:00 to 4:45 pm. At 4:45 pm, children and parents come together in the sanctuary for a song-filled community Havdalah service.

Hebrew classes are available starting in third grade. The classes meet before Shabbat School, from 1:45 – 2:45 pm.

Havurah Middle School is a two-year cycle for 7th and 8th graders meeting together (unlike the separate grades in Shabbat School), which focuses on Jewish culture and hands-on learning. It meets on 10-12 Wednesday evenings during the school year, starting with dinner with the high school students. Then the Middle School students split off for programming taught by parents and by Middle School educator. There are additional times for social gatherings or tikkun olam (social action) projects.

Havurah High School is a mixed age group of 9th-12th graders. It meets approximately 24 Wednesday evenings during the school year. Classes begin with a communal dinner, followed by stimulating and provocative exploration of topics concerning high school students, navigated with a Jewish compass. The group meets additionally for social and/or tikkun olam gatherings. Our middle school educator teaches most classes, with some taught by various congregants.

What kinds of adult learning are there?

We offer many opportunities for adult learning, from Jewish history, music, Jewish parenting, interfaith parenting, learning to read Hebrew, book discussions, Talmud study, end-of-life Issues, and death and mourning in Jewish community.

What types of social groups are there?

At Havurah, we have several social groups: An Alter Rockers group of young-at-heart retirees and near-retirees, who meet for movies, Trivia night, happy hours, theater productions and more; a new group being formed for people ages 45-60 interested in Jewish-focused social activities; a book discussion group; and Mah Jongg players. Please visit our Facebook page and our Facebook group page, where members socialize, share stories, and organize events.

How much are dues?

Information about congregational dues can be found here on our website.

How do we govern?

You can learn more about the new structure of Havurah's Steering Committee here.


Wed, October 27 2021 21 Cheshvan 5782