Havurah Initiative

What is the Havurah Initiative?

Havurah: An Experiment in Jewish Gathering” is an initiative funded by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, and hosted by the JCA, which provides support to individuals and families who are interested in gathering and building Jewish community with others. We want to support you in developing 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.

The History

Throughout Jewish history, Jews have formed intentional communities called “havurot.”  While the word “havurot” has meant different things to different people over time and today, it generally connotes a relatively small group of people who see themselves as connected and committed to each other in some meaningful way.  Members of havurot often gather together to celebrate Shabbat, holidays, and key moments in the Jewish life cycle.

In the zeitgeist (spirit or mood of the time) of 1960’s America, a Havurah movement emerged that served as a counter cultural phenomenon in relation to the organized Jewish community of their day. Going against the grain of organized synagogue communities, havurot were typically organized without formal hierarchy, honoring all people as lay leaders and having no central rabbi. They created communities around shared values and sought to live and explore their Jewish lives together.

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, members of the queer community, etc. Each of our havurot will be organized around different themes, such as: Young Adults, Jewish Mindfulness and Meditation, Rosh Chodesh (New Moon Ritual), Interfaith/Blended Families, Young Families, LGBT Folks.

What is a Havurah?

A havurah is an intimate community where deep, caring, supportive relationships are fostered between the members of the group as they share and explore a Jewish focus of their own choosing. The group sets its own agenda, is peer-led, and meets on an ongoing basis.

A havurah must:

  • Have a minimum of seven people
  • Meet nine times a year or more
  • Have a Jewish focus
  • Share leadership among its members
  • Have a connector whose role is to serve as the liaison to the JCA havurah coordinator.

Role of the Connector

  • Gather people together on a shared Jewish interest to form a havurah
  • Serve as the liaison to the JCA
  • Establish regular contact with the JCA Havurah Initiative staff
  • Attend HI hosted gatherings with other Connectors
  • Submit reports to the JCA havurah coordinator by the due date regarding the status of the havurah


If you have an idea for a havurah theme (even if you don’t want to take on a leadership role), please complete the application form by clicking on the button below.