As Jews, we are rediscovering our roots in intentional community. From our ancient nomadic wandering through the desert, to the shtetls of Eastern Europe, to today’s short term young adult programs like Adamah and Avodah, intentional community has been a core part of the Jewish experience. For the past several years, Hazon, Isabella Freedman, and the Pearlstone Center, with generous support from UJA-Federation of New York, have been thinking together about what it means to live in and create Jewish intentional communities, and have fostered thought leadership in the field through the annual Jewish Intentional Communities Conference.
Our goal is to create a space where we can all join together to help spark the next stage of our communal journey.
- To join the conversation on the Jewish Intentional Communities Listserve, email email@example.com.
One can easily argue that we are more connected with each other now than ever before. We can text with friends living abroad; we can trade goods with strangers across the country; we can read blog posts by people we will never meet who live lives we will never witness in person.
And yet, we are still constantly looking for ways to reconnect with our roots and with each other. Living in intentional community with others who share our values is one way people have been addressing this need for thousands of years.
Many questions remain, though. How do we make these communities diverse and inclusive? How do we center communities around Jewish living and learning in a secular world? What are the various models of urban and rural communities? What support exists for communities, and how do we find one another?
We hope that this initiative will help develop the conversation around these questions and others. Check back often to find updated information on our Jewish Intentional Communities Conference and Hakhel, our intentional community incubator.
Below is an interactive map of Jewish intentional communities, broadly defined, around the world. If you would like to add a community to the map, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to keep up with our Hakhel incubates and other Jewish intentional communities around the world? Be sure to follow our blog!
Do you have a story to tell? If you are interested in contributing to our Hazon blog, please contact email@example.com.
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November 26th, 2014
Over the next year, community leaders from Brooklyn to Berkeley will receive support to make their dreams a reality.
Hakhel, a partnership between Hazon and Nettiot, is the first-of-its-kind Jewish Intentional Communities incubator in North America. Derived from the Hebrew word for community, “Hakhel” means “assemble”, a term which alludes to the project’s two-fold aim of encouraging and developing young communities, and using these communities as a method for engaging young adults in Jewish life, learning and service. Finalists will receive guidance from two Israeli mentors, Aharon Ariel Lavi and James Grant-Rosenhead, financial assistance, a trip to Israel, and peer-to-peer networking opportunities within the cohort, thanks to support from UJA – Federation of New York.
In its first year, the incubator includes two urban communities within New York City, one networked community across the Eastern seaboard, and one community each in upstate New York, Colorado, and California. The leaders of these communities bring important skills and knowledge-sets to the project, from urban zoning to real estate finance to communal decision-making, and are eager to serve as models for other intentional communities to learn from in the future. Furthermore, each of these projects has a mission deeply rooted in Jewish traditions, from group learning to the communal celebration of Jewish holidays, and all of the projects will actively pursue social justice and conduct outreach beyond their immediate membership.
The project is integrally linked with Makom, the parallel movement of Mission-Driven Communities in Israel, where more than 200 communities have been established in the last three decades. This year’s cohort, plus some additional members of the movement outside of the cohort, will be traveling to Israel this March to learn from the Israeli experience, expand their horizons to new and different models of communities, and establish long-term, direct relationships between the American communities and their Israeli counterparts.
Lavi and Grant-Rosenhead, founder-members of intentional communities in Israel, are activists and leaders in the Makom movement. Together, they will assist the Hakhel projects in conducting feasibility studies, creating work plans, and honing their long-term vision of internal development and external outreach.
The six Hakhel incubatees are:
Sara Zebovitz, Zach Pekarsky, David Meyer, Jeremy Oziel, Morriah Kaplan, Tom Corcoran
We are a Jewish, social justice oriented group, hoping to create a network of communal Jewish life in America. We will be focused on our local communities by getting involved in neighborhood activities and taking action together with our neighbors. We host Shabbat dinners and share resources and thoughts on holidays with the Habonim Dror community, and hope to expand that. We see communal living and communal responsibility as essential to creating a world based on social justice and equality, and see our Jewish life as central to those values.
Alexander and Felice Holt
We vision creating an intergenerational co-housing community that observes Shabbat and lives by the Jewish calendar. Young families and elders come together to serve each other: elders help with children and families help the elders. Social justice is a core component of the community’s identity, in line with the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam. The community will come together on a regular basis and participate in group work that benefits underserved, at-risk populations. We vision the group either starting a non-profit devoted to this effort or partnering with other organizations already working to alleviate social injustice.
The Beis Community (Open Up Washington Heights)
Hart Levine and Lilly Losovsky
We are a group of passionate young professionals committed to building a community that is socially progressive and Orthodox. A hallmark of our activities has been a focus on intentional prayer, creativity in ritual, and Torah study as well as an openness and warmth that welcomes all Jews. We focus on inreach, outreach, and up-reach, encouraging those who are actively engaged in Jewish life to strengthen and support less involved Jews who are in search of their own faith and practice. Our goal is to use the incredible human capital in our community and our position in New York City to create an aspirational model for the Modern Orthodox communities of the future.
Sara Shalva, Adam Simon, Nancy Cohen, Jennifer Zwilling Rosenwasser, Lori Simon, Alex Boyar, Jon Rosenwasser, Benjamin Shalva, Jeff Wetzler, Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler
Our community grew out of a table of friends sitting at the Hkader Ohkel at Camp Yavneh in New Hampshire. As an emerging intentional community, we come together 6 – 8 times a year to celebrate Jewish life as families. Over some shabbatot or entire weekends or holidays we find inexpensive opportunities to gather to sing, hike, learn, discuss and live in community. At those times, when we manage to take the time and spare the expense to gather together at a family camp or small retreat, we realize how important it is for us to be with our chevra, especially on retreat: away from the business of usual life. There, we have the time to learn together and to take the time to reflect together on who we are and who we want to be.
Boulder Jewish Community Housing Initiative
The mission of the Boulder Jewish Community Housing Initiative (BJCHI) is to establish a Jewish Moshav (the “Moshav”) in Boulder, Colorado based on cooperative community, Jewish culture and religious practice, social justice, and sustainable environmental practices. The Moshav will be a denominationally unaffiliated, pluralistic, multi-generational community of households, united by a connection and commitment to Judaism, sustainability, and social justice, who have come together to live Jewish-inspired lives in community and in harmony with nature and Jewish and natural rhythms of the year. The Moshav will consist of two limited-equity cohousing communities – one senior and one intergenerational – totaling approximately 60 sustainably built housing units, 25 of which (40%) will be affordable to low- and moderate-income households.
Residents of Berkeley Moshav — who ideally would constitute a village diverse in age, family composition, economic circumstance, and Jewish observance — will engage together in Jewish ritual, study, and culture, creating a milieu in which daily Jewish life will be normal, rich, and fun. In short, Jewish life would strengthen community, and the community would nurture Jewish life. As a part of the surrounding community, we hope to engage neighbors in communal events, both those that share our traditions (such as a Sukkot meal) and those that simply create more community (such movie nights in our common house). The idea is both to develop the Jewish lives and identities of ourselves and our community and then to share these lives and identities as we engage the wider world.
Members include Roger Studley & Chai Levy, Asaf Shor & Hilla Abel, Bridget Wynne & Julia London, Chaim & Nell Mahgel-Friedman, Chasya-Uriel & Ahava Steinbauer, Daniel Barash & Mark Jacobs, Glenn Massarano, Harriet Schiffer, Jenny & Josh Kirsch, Judy Gussman, Michael & Rebecca Liskin, Shira & Yoav Potash, Tamar & Yossi Fendel, and Yari Mander.
“Hakhel” means “assemble” and is derived from the Hebrew word for “community.” This project, a partnership between Hazon and Nettiot with generous support from UJA-Federation of New York, is named “Hakhel” because it aims to support and establish Jewish Intentional Communities as a new method for engaging young adults in community and Jewish life, learning, and service. This project will draw in part on the learnings of the intentional communities movement within Israel (MAKOM) over the last two decades, and the learnings of the successful first year of Hakhel.
Communities and individuals from the five boroughs of NYC, Westchester, and Long Island are eligible to apply.
Applicants are highly encouraged to learn more about the program at an open house on Sunday, October 11 from 2 to 4 PM at Makom Hadash in New York City with Aharon Ariel Lavi, one of the two Israeli mentors of the project.
After a careful vetting process, up to three groups will be selected to be a part of the incubator, joining the six groups currently in the cohort. Successful applicants will demonstrate that their communities have a clear intentionality; have a core group or plan for building one; have a clear idea of what areas of support they are looking for; and have an outward-facing mission. If selected, your group / a representative from your group will:
• receive a modest stipend and ongoing professional mentoring,
• engage in a highly subsidized learning tour in Israel of intentional communities in early spring and
• attend the second Jewish Intentional Communities Conference from December 3-6, 2015 at the Pearlstone Center in Maryland (registration and travel covered). At least one member of your group will be required to attend.
In this first year you will be expected to:
• develop a detailed long-term work place,
• run a feasibility check, and
• execute some key preliminary steps in order to reach your goals with the support of a mentor and a steering committee.
To join the conversation on the Jewish Intentional Communities Listserve, email firstname.lastname@example.orgBeit Havurah: A unique experiment in creating an intentional extended Jewish communityFellowship for Intentional Community, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting cooperative culture
Communities Magazine, the Fellowship for Intentional Community’s quarterly publication, is the primary resource for information, stories, and ideas about intentional communities in North America
The following books may be found at your local bookseller, or through the Fellowship for Intentional Community Bookstore:
Collective Visioning by Linda Stout
Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities by Diana Leafe Christian
Creating Cohousing by Charles Durrett and Kathryn McCamant
Intentional Community: An Anthropological Perspective by Susan Love Brown, editor
A Manual for Group Facilitators by The Center for Conflict Resolution
With a Little Help from our Friends: Creating Community As We Grow Older by Beth Baker
Living Together with a Purpose, Rachel Benaim, Contact Magazine
Jewish Intentional Communities at a Tipping Point, Nigel Savage
Centers of Intention, NJ Jewish News
Intentional Community on the Urban Frontier, Jewish Boston
Why Community, Why Now?, Caitlin Fisch
Intentional Community on the Urban Frontier, Jewish Boston
Beyond the Kibbutz: A Jewish Farm Renaissance, Bay Area Bites
The Foodlums of Connecticut, The Jewish Daily Forward
A New Kibbutz Movement, Revisited, James Grant-Rosenhead
I want to thank Adam and all the staff members for an amazing experience. The conference was inspiring and well organized. Thank you for giving us a family feeling so far away from home.
The JICC was an amazing experience! I’d been thinking and feeling this pull to help form some kind of earth-mindful Jewish community for some time and felt very supported to know that there are others out there with similar visions.
I came to Isabella with an open mind and left with full and open heart.
We call the Jewish Intentional Communities Conference “your community of communities.”
There’s nothing else like it. Imagine being with over one hundred people of all ages and life stages, old friends and new, all actively working to build intentional communities around the world, from Israel to Virginia to Oregon.
The 2014 conference explored where we’ve been – biblical communities, 20th century kibbutzim and moshavin, the case study of Beit Chavura; where we are – examples of modern Israeli communities, Moishe House, Adamah and other young adult programs; and where we’re going – refining our joint visions for the future, gaining skills to enhance our capacity to build sustainable communities, and facilitated networking to identify common interests and visions.
These conferences are a partnership between Hazon, the Pearlstone Center, UJA-Federation of New York, and the Jewish Agency for Israel. We share a vision that over the next 3-10 years, new Jewish intentional communities will bloom across the country – from urban kibbutzim to rural moshavim, suburban co-ops, and more – and that these dynamic and vibrant new Jewish communities will become inspiring catalysts in an ongoing renaissance in American Jewish life.
Join us for the 3rd annual Jewish Intentional Communities Conference
We are excited to learn from and share with each other, vision together, and plant seeds for communities to come. Whether you’ve been a part of an intentional community, are a part of one now, want to start one, or just want to learn more, we welcome you to join the conversation!
This conference is a partnership between Pearlstone Center and Hazon. We share a vision that over the next 3-10 years, new Jewish intentional communities will bloom across the country – from urban kibbutzim to rural moshavim, suburban co-ops, and more – and that these dynamic and vibrant new Jewish communities will become inspiring catalysts in an ongoing renaissance in American Jewish life.