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Topic: Hakhel Blog

Hakhel Spotlight: Israeli Community Barcelona

The Israeli Community Barcelona was established in October 2016 by a group of local Israelis who sought to join together in order to create a framework for social activities. The activities take place in Hebrew and revolve around Jewish holidays and Israeli culture. The opening event was a Hanukkah party, which brought together 120 Israelis to a celebration of light and joy. Later, events for adults were also held and most of the holidays were celebrated in a traditional but non-religious manner, with the participation and assistance of the entire community. In September 2017, the community education center was established – an Israeli cultural home for children ages 2-8. The children meet twice a month and learn about the holidays, Israeli songs and stories, movement, music, acting, and more. What connects all activity is the Hebrew language and Israeli culture. The children play in Hebrew and enrich their vocabulary, taste Israeli culture and are curious to continue exploring beyond the activity. At the same time, the holiday traditions continued to grow, bringing local Israelis closer to an exciting and colorful cultural celebration. In addition, a group was established to support women in the first month after birth, by bringing home-cooked […]

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Hakhel Israel Trip – Communities of Israel

Communities of Israel – Reflections from Hakhel’s Israel Tour by Sephirah Stacey Oshkello At the beginning of November, members of Living Tree Alliance traveled to Israel with 20 other leaders of Jewish intentional communities in North America as part of Hazon’s Hakhel Jewish Intentional Communities Incubator Program. In the seven glorious days of our seminar we visited about 11 mission-driven communities and 6 projects, across Israel (map here) to learn from their successes and challenges. Through this journey, it has become evident that Living Tree Alliance is part of a growing movement of Jewish organizations around the world that are inspired to Redefine Community, Rejuvenate Land, and Revitalize Culture. This movement is about re-connecting people to the ancient teachings and traditions of Judaism that allows for a more meaningful life embedded in community filled with a deepening of relationships, creative expression, and connection. This movement provides innovative antidotes to modern society’s isolated individualism. With your incredible support through the years, and the collaboration of many local and international organizations, Living Tree Alliance has grown from a concept in 2010 to serving as a leader in this movement at home and abroad. Building meaningful, intentional Jewish community, connected to the land, […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: Hashomer Hatzair USA

Hello from Hashomer Hatzair USA! We are a socialist zionist youth movement that has a sleepaway camp in the summer and year-round activities for our kenim (branches). We are excited to be here as first time members in the Hakhel community! We use experiential and collaborative education as a tool to further social justice and peace. Over the past year or so, we have begun a process for building a life movement for our bogrim (movement members that are college-aged and older). People have started thinking about what it would really look like to live their lives communally and actualize their ideals. As a result we have organized and run a handful of seminars around the topics of economics and allyship, and have built a framework to continue the learning process. This new chapter of our movement holds strong roots and is making steady progress. We are looking forward to having a special seminar in Israel to help us learn from communities successful in hagshama (self-realization), and to learn more about our relationship to Israel-Palestine. Additionally, a hub of bogrimot will be starting to live communally next year, and will host cultural gatherings and learning events. It is exciting to […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: Kehila Ivrit Amsterdam

Kehila was established by Israelis living in the Netherlands who teamed up to create a joint framework for cultural, social, and educational activities in the Hebrew language. Kehila is based on its members’ active participation and involvement in the spirit of pluralism and cooperation. Indeed, in the context of intentional communities, this is very obvious to expect people to give a hand and carry out all community needs and ventures, but, still this community is revolutionary for many of the members. Fans of community life see the power of devotion so clearly. Volunteering, co-creating is so basic. And yet, there are so many people out there who fear this level of intimacy, who rarely dare to step in a social circle. It is mainly fear which holds people back from attaching, not ideology. And there you go, a group of Israeli parents who can’t stand aloneness any more and feel the need of warmth and tribal power as part of their parenthood. They live the ultimate urban life Amsterdam has to offer, they are not used to being part of anything. For many of them, this step was confronting and scary. Once you feel how much love and warmth melt […]

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Hakhel Israel trip – Day 1

Monday, November 5, 2018 By Gil Landau, Kfar B’ir, Washington DC Monday morning, we stood on a mountaintop overlooking the Kineret and the place where the earliest Kibbutzim were established. After hearing our guide James tell his moving personal story of coming to Israel and building an intentional community, we discussed each group’s goals, dreams for the future, and three questions we needed to answer during this trip to move our communities forward. Our community, KfarDC, an urban co-housing community to be built in downtown DC, discussed our goal of reducing loneliness caused by modern society, our dreams of creating a model for Jewish co-housing in America, and the need to learn about how to recruit serious volunteer and financing housing in a high-cost urban environment. We then went down the mountain and heard from Muki Tzur, a pioneer of the kibbutz movement. Muki explained that the core principle for building just communities is to balance freedom and equality. All theory aside, Muki stressed that we need to stop discussing and start building. This was a lesson that was reinforced when we visited the Hadar neighborhood of Haifa and the young intentional communities there. We met with Shai Felbnik, who […]

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Hakhel Israel trip – Day 2

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 By Elie Benhiyoun Divorced with three kids and nowhere to go, Sara made the trek north to Afula. When she arrived, the first thing she did was get on a bike, find whatever odds and ends she could get her hands on and sell them at the shuk, the local market. She did this every day for a few years until she was finally able to have a stall of her own. Today, 35 years later, this impossibly slight woman with an indomitable spirit told us her story, some of us with tears in our eyes. The Afula Market, or “shuk” in Hebrew, was the heartbeat of this small northern town only a few decades ago. It was utterly vanquished by the neighboring department stores and has since become a hive of underworld activity. Thankfully, Sivan, an Afula local artist, didn’t see it that way. These dilapidated walls were the ideal canvas for art and the opportunity to empower creative teenagers in Afula. It now boasts a dazzling display of murals, making the shuk burst with life. We had the privilege to speak with Sivan and her friends Gili and Mor on our first stop after […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: The Kehilla in South Korea

Hakehillah is a Jewish cultural community focused on welcoming and including all who wish to celebrate Jewish tradition, religion, and culture. There aren’t many Jews in South Korea, and we want to make everyone feel like they have a family here, whether they’re a “good Jew” or “bad Jew.” We’re family. Using photos of Korea taken by our members from throughout the year, we’ve produced a calendar which includes both Korean and Jewish holidays from September 2018 to October 2019, or in other words the Jewish year 5779. If you would be interested in supporting our community in a small way, the calendar can be ordered here. The suggested donation is $35, and it can be shipped to most countries. The calendars were designed by Sarah Gavin of www.coffeecatskimchi.com who is also a core Kehilla member.   Hakehillah is a Hakhel community. Learn more about Hakhel – the first-of-its-kind Jewish Intentional Communities Incubator

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Hakhel Spotlight: Urban Moshav Boston

On our Hakhel tour of intentional communities last month, our small group bonded quickly. With representatives from Baltimore, Boston, New York, Philadelphia – as well as Mexico, Ukraine, and Russia – we easily bridged our linguistic and cultural differences (everyone speaks some English and everyone enjoys good food). At Degania, the first kibbutz, founded in 1909, we had the opportunity to speak with Muki Tzur, one of the foremost leaders and historians of the kibbutz movement. Now in his 80s, Muki spoke with a deeply grounded knowledge and wisdom about what it means for Degania to now be entering its 6th generation. He also explained how the “poison of nostalgia” freezes the past into a false ideal, and he drew the distinction between testament and heritage: testament is an approach to the past that says “this is the way things were and must be, therefore I will tell you what to do”, while heritage says “I trust you to look at our shared past, and decide what to keep and adapt for your future.” The gifts history has to offer are insights into how people of the past thought about the future; across time, people are always thinking about the […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: November Newsletter Message

Dear friends, “There were shots in a synagogue in Pittsburgh,” my hosts in New York informed me last Saturday night when I returned from a wonderful Shabbat with UWS Jews, a community of young Jews in New York, who are part of the 2018 cohort of Hakhel. “There are 11 dead, an anti-Semitic murderer.” In the second before the shock hit me, I still had time to think about the blessing of Shabbat that cuts us off from the world for a moment and enables us to gather as a community, and even to postpone such bitter news for a few more hours. On Monday, I was supposed to continue to Canada for meetings with other communities, but I quickly concluded that it would not make sense to continue with the schedule as if nothing had happened: I canceled the meetings, organized what I needed and arrived in Pittsburgh after a six hours drive from New York. “You may have gotten used to such things in Israel,” Dafna told me, “but you just live in a constant sense of anxiety.” I met Dafna after I arrived at Pittsburgh’s JCC. All attempts to contact acquaintances and colleagues in Pittsburgh in advance […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: Bible Raps

Bible Raps joined Hakhel in the summer of 2018, and looks to fuse the two rarely overlapping worlds of Hip Hop and Torah. Here is how they do it… Rappers and Rabbis: An Unreasonable Obsession With The Word By Matt Bar I know there is some obvious concern to be raised when bringing hip hop into sophisticated adult Torah study. I mean, the one is lewd, misogynistic, full of killers and concubines and the other is hip hop. Ba-dum-bum-CHING! Over the past 18 months, Bible Raps has been facilitating retreats, podcasts, and curriculum that bring together a diverse group of rappers (street-wise lyricists who have honed their craft rap-battling on subway trains) and rabbis (book-wise teachers who have cut their teeth dueling it out in the Beit Midrash). Bible Raps has been serving as the anvil upon which these two word-loving communities let their lyrical hammers loose against the yellow-hot steel of Torah. And boy have the sparks been flying! Our podcasts and events are turning out razor-sharp-edged analysis amid steam-explosions of laughter. The hammer blows coming out of the Bible Raps Smithy have been hitting some powerfully deep frequencies. The rumblings are already being felt throughout the Jewish Adult Education […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: MoEd

MoEd is… The place you should have been going after school when you were a kid. It just wasn’t around, so you couldn’t… A fun-loving kids’ community, where kids come to meet and play and talk – and learn (without realizing it)! A Hebrew-speaking Jewish afterschool, where every participant defines their space, their role, and what they want to learn. We do our best to give the kids a set of tools, a bag of skills… and a world of questions. They have to connect the dots, draw the lines, and come up with their very own definition and identity. We are a community of kids, backed by a community of families. We come together in the evening to make shakshuka from a recipe written in Hebrew, or watch The Band’s Visit and have a long discussion about the meaning of ‘center’ versus ‘periphery’ and everything in between. Members contribute their skills and knowledge to a growing, engaged community that learns about the Dead Sea Scrolls from a parent who is a professor, or about second-language acquisition from another parent who is a language specialist. MoEd is located in Chevy Chase, Maryland and serves the greater DC area. We have […]

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The Silence After Love: The Gift of Space in the Month of Cheshvan

By Mira Neshama Niculescu On Elul our anticipation grows, as we hear the shofar blow every morning in the synagogues, as we hurry to examine our deeds, as we call each other to say “I’m sorry”, and “I love you.” Then comes the two days where we celebrate the birthday of the world. As the month of Tishri triumphally starts, the doors of the sky open, we crown the source of life as king of the world, and we dip apples in honey, wishing each other a year of “goodness” and of “sweetness.” Just about ten days later, we all dress in white, rehearsing our death while calling for our rebirth, on the day of atonement, yom ha kippurim. When the night comes after that long journey throughout which we’re prayed to be inscribed in the book of life, we’re barely still drinking our warm tea after the fast, that it’s time to start planting the first pole of the booth we are getting ready to inhabit for seven days, resting under the palms through which we see the stars, feeling both our vulnerability and our gratitude towards the source of life whose natural bounty is everywhere around us. Sukkot, […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: FED, Harlem

FED – an intentional community based in Harlem, NYC – feeds you with delicious food, inspirational art and ideas, and the creative energy of others you find here. For the first time, this year FED will be offering services and meals for the Jewish High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. There is a universal need for spiritual experiences, for a sense of community and belonging. FED offers a platform for creativity and dialogue where those from a variety of backgrounds feel welcome and included. It so happens that creativity with the tradition and how it can inspire reflection, help us find and realize a sense of purpose, and be our best selves is to me what Judaism – and FED – is all about. For Rosh Hashanah on September 9-11, Hadar Cohen will lead us in interactive services incorporating sound and movement, and two delicious dinners will mark the start of the Jewish New Year. For Yom Kippur, we are hosting a service on September 18 at 7pm called Kol Nidre, perhaps the most dramatic, significant and powerful service in the Jewish calendar, which launches the Day of Atonement. In a participatory music theatre take on the Jewish ritual, […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: Sadeh, UK

This past July at Sadeh, we organised our first summer camp.  Rooted in Jewish values Sadeh cultivates community, grows food, and sows the seeds of change.  Sadeh, which means field, is the first UK Jewish farm and environmental community of our generation. Our summer camp was a week long day camp for children ages 5 – 10 and we had a great mix of children from our Jewish community and our local community. This was one of the first events both specifically for children and to encourage local people to come to our site. It was a massive success and we are already planning next year’s event! Three practical tips we learnt from this event that I want to share: – We definitely needed all 4 staff for 15 – 20 children. – Don’t be afraid of doing morning Jewish songs with non – Jewish participants. Everyone loved it! – We planned every second of the week but a lot of the time at least some of the children just wanted to play on the obstacle course or colour in by themselves which we let them do. Free play is so amazing and otherwise they might as well be in […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: Shana Tova from Hakhel!

Dear friends, Shana tova, Happy New Year! Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot are upon us again. It is the month of the year the Jews all over the world most look to their communities for meaning, connection and personal acceptance. Much has been written about the Jewish Holidays being like an ascending spiral: although the Holidays repeat year after year, those celebrating them ascend rather than return around the circle as they find deeper and more personal connections to the festivals each time they come by. The same can be said of many of the communities which have grown through Hakhel – as the only Jewish Intentional Communities incubator. We map out growth of communities which may run the same programming year after year- communal prayers, Rosh Hashanah dinner, a picnic at sukkot, but it is a great honour to see that through those activities, communities deeper their internal connections to each other, find more meaning in their interpersonal relationships, and give of just a bit more of themselves into the collective spirit with every year that goes by. Benedict Allen, the jungle explorer famed for crossing the Amazon basin by foot, describes his philosophy saying, “exploration isn’t about […]

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