Jewish Intentional Communities Initiative

Creating a space where we can all join together to help spark the next stage of our communal journey

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.

 

To join the conversation on the Jewish Intentional Communities Listserv, email intentionalcommunities@hazon.org.
 

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 intentionalcommunities@hazon.org.

 

Follow our blog to keep up with our Hakhel incubates and other Jewish intentional communities around the world.

Have a story of your own? Email intentionalcommunities@hazon.org to contribute to our blog.

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Community leaders from Brooklyn to Berkeley received support to make their community-building dreams a reality.

Hakhel 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 received guidance from two expert mentors, Aharon Ariel Lavi and James Grant-Rosenhead, modest financial assistance, participation in Hazon’s Jewish Intentional Communities Tour in Israel, and peer-to-peer networking opportunities within the cohort, thanks to support from UJA – Federation of New York.

The 2016 cohort, plus some additional members of the movement outside of the cohort, travelled to Israel in 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 are founder-members of intentional communities in Israel and activists and leaders in the Jewish intentional communities movement. Together, they assist the Hakhel projects in conducting feasibility studies, creating work plans, and honing their long-term vision of internal development and external outreach.

The 4 New York-based Hakhel incubatees in the second cohort are:

Work at Home Mom & Pop

Gulienne Rollins-Rishon

WAHMP aims to create a communal space where Jewish parents of all denominations can come together, with young children in tow, to a shared office space, in order to pursue their creative or telecommuting endeavors. Our co-working environment, with on sight child engagement, will offer the standard amenities of a shared office environment, plus a kosher kitchen, private nursing space, and hours compatible with both parenting and Jewish lifestyles. Our space will provide not only office set-up and peer interaction for both adults and children, but also engaging networking opportunities, and workshops and lectures run by experts in Jewish spirituality, parenting, finance, and law. We also aim to provide an opportunity for our member artists to showcase and sell their work, and space for our members to collaborate on new projects.

Makom NY

Rabbi Debbi Bravo

Makom NY is a new kind of Jewish community on Long Island where all are welcome. They come from many backgrounds and are seeking Jewish learning, culture, connections and community. They are a community beyond any one movement where all people are personally welcomed and where social, denominational, faith and financial barriers do not exist.  They look to embrace meaningful worship that uses the transcendent power of music to enable connection and spirituality; intergenerational programming of holiday celebrations, social justice and Israel connection; immersive Jewish learning experiences for children that foster a lifelong love of Judaism, an understanding of the modern Hebrew language and preparation for B’nai Mitzvah; parallel adult and family learning experiences that allow families of all backgrounds to discover and create their own Jewish identities; and Jewish Life Cycle celebrations.

Haredi Tech Entrepreneurs

Ronnie Rendel

The ultimate dream of this community is a virtual “kibutz” of haredi heads of families engaged in building, investing, and marketing technology products. The community will take in new members recently completing or in their final years of yeshiva (or seminary), include training programs and guidance mentors directing new members in the right tech field and building the right skills. The ideal is for the community to also provide housing for its members, in return for participation in its program, much like a kibutz.The biggest hurdle for a young family today is housing cost, and elevating this pain is a big value for joining this community.

As members create and participate in products, which are owned by the community (which acts as a sort of a tech incubator and members sharing equity), they become mentors and later leaders of the community.

Beineinu

Rabbi Laurie Phillips & Daphna Mor

Beineinu is a New York City-based initiative dedicated to cultivating personal Jewish pathways that resonate with the unique needs of our modern world. They build community — between them — by offering meaningful experiences for all people of all ages. Whether you’ve long been a part of Jewish life, or are embarking on something utterly new, they invite you to join our gatherings and develop your own customized endeavor with them.

The concept behind Beineinu is the Havurah model: our leadership cultivates small communities formed from about 10 households, and implements a plan with each group. The group decides the content and the frequency of meetings, gathering throughout the year to explore and connect with Jewish learning and one another, developing and strengthening identity with relevance and meaning. Their first groups have come together in Brooklyn, Harlem, and on the Upper West Side.

The 6 New York-based and national groups from the first cohort are:

GariNYC

David Kay, David Meyer, Leya Robinson, Morriah Kaplan, Noah Finkelstein, Tom Corcoran, Sara Zebovitz, Sarah Lerman-Sinkoff

They are a Jewish, social justice oriented group, hoping to create a network of communal Jewish life in America. They will be focused on our local communities by getting involved in neighborhood activities and taking action together with our neighbors. They host Shabbat dinners and share resources and thoughts on holidays with the Habonim Dror community, and hope to expand that. They 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.

Kol Hai

Amy Hannes, David Nidorf, Doree Lipson, Emily Abramson, Simon Abramson, Felice Winograd Holt, Rebecca Stacy, Alan Rothman, Ayelet Singer

Kol Ḥai (“which means all life”) is an emerging, Jewish Renewal spiritual community in New York’s Hudson Valley. We gather for music-filled, joyful Shabbat and holiday services, as well as meals and other shared community experiences.  Our ecumenical, intergenerational community is comprised of a diversity of people including families, retirees, young farmers and NYC friends seeking shabbat in nature. We learn through chanting, prayer, ritual text study and immersive experiences in the region’s natural landscape.

The Beis Community

Hart Levine, Yael Levine, Rebecca Mintz, Nathaniel Moldoff, Aryeh Canter, Jordana Burstein

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.

Lev B’Lev

Sara Shalva, Adam Simon, Nancy Cohen, Jennifer Zwilling Rosenwasser, Lori Simon, Alex Boyar, Jon Rosenwasser, Benjamin Shalva, Jeff Wetzler, Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler

Their community grew out of a table of friends sitting at the Hkader Ohkel at Camp Yavneh in New Hampshire. As an emerging intentional community, they come together 6 – 8 times a year to celebrate Jewish life as families. Over some shabbatot or entire weekends or holidays they find inexpensive opportunities to gather to sing, hike, learn, discuss and live in community. At those times, when they manage to take the time and spare the expense to gather together at a family camp or small retreat, they realize how important it is for us to be with their chevra, especially on retreat: away from the business of usual life. There, they have the time to learn together and to take the time to reflect together on who they are and who they want to be.

Boulder Jewish Community Housing Initiative

Jeff Levy

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.

Berkeley Moshav

Roger Studley

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.

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News Coverage

  Articles   Organizations Books 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
 

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.
—Tzur Oren, Israel
 

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.
—Suzy Rosen, New York
 

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.

Previous conferences 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, and UJA-Federation of New York. 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.

2016 JICC program book

2015 JICC program book

2014 JICC program book

2013 JICC program book

 

The second Jewish Intentional Communities tour in Israel was held from Sunday, March 13 to Sunday, March 20, 2016.

  • The tour of Jewish Intentional Communities in Israel intended to strongly enhance the sense of Jewish peoplehood among its participants.
  • The participants’ evaluations of the program showed how truly life-changing it was for all of them. As one participant wrote, “My relationship to Israel is transformed — hands down transformed. The Jewish value of diversity, and the variety of experiences that exist inside the Jewish world and in this country, is remarkable to me. I really have a far deeper appreciation, respect, and want to be a bridge for communication to people who don’t know what really happens, on the ground, in Israeli society, day in and day out, with the pressures that people live with here. The commitment to a mission and vision of what they want to create is remarkable.”
  • People gained concrete community-building skills as well as a less tangible, but absolutely crucial, sense of hope and renewed engagement.
  • The trip was co-led by led by Aharon Ariel Lavi and James Grant-Rosenhead, the two mentors for the Hakhel incubator program and professionals in the field of community building.
  • If you are interested in attending, please email intentionalcommunities@hazon.org.