Introducing The Havurah Project 2020
Turning and Returning for a
Just & Joyful World
1 Elul (August 21) through Simchat-Torah (October 9)
The Midrash teaches, “After the destruction, our teachers gathered. They sent to the elders saying ‘Whoever has learned, let them come and teach. Whoever has not learned, let them come and learn. They gathered, and learned, and they took care of all their needs.” (Song of Songs Rabbah 2:5:3)
The Invitation
As one of the ways we’ll observe the High Holy Days this year, Shir Tikvah is supporting the formation of Havurot of 8-12 people who will gather for the season, beginning for those who choose in the Hebrew month of Elul (end of August.) 
This is an invitation to actively participate in our communal experiment of deepening through the High Holidays. We aim to weave together the new way we gather (Zoom) and the old (Havurot, learning groups) to feel real connection and learn together. Please complete this brief opt-in form to be added to a Havurah for learning between Elul (end of August) and Simchat Torah (beginning of October).

Please fill out this brief opt-in form before August 16!
What is a Havurah (pl. Havurot)?
The rabbinic project during our history’s greatest time of upheaval - learning what we don’t know, teaching what we know, and taking care of needs - has taken on renewed significance today, in the face of ongoing losses of social connections, of human lives, of the planet’s resources, and more. Our ancestors succeeded in transforming Jewish life by way of forming small groups for learning, known as Havurot. A Havurah (from the Hebrew root haver, meaning friend) is a group that gathers for learning, meals, holiday celebrations, and mutual support.
We hope that through Havurot, participants will delve more deeply and personally into the tool set of the tradition, find meaningful connections with one another, ask salient questions, and establish interpersonal foundations for deep healing and justice work in the year ahead. If we can accomplish all that, this process will also be joyful and nourishing at a soul level.
Once you’re in your Havurah, what will you learn?
The learning that will happen in your Havurah is not meant to be advanced Jewish text study. Rather, the process of studying the Jewish texts, reflecting on the suggested questions, and reflecting on your own questions is itself a spiritual process. We aim to create spaces for holy encounters, I-Thou experiences, which arise in the convergence of holy texts, the holy humans in the group, and God. Each module contains brief background readings, Jewish study texts, and suggested questions for reflection and discussion. 
The season’s learning is designed to run from the beginning of Elul (last week of August) through Simchat Torah (October 10) with eight modules for learning together. You may just want the appetizer: 4 sessions of Elul learning. You may just want the main course, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and/or dessert - Sukkot.

But it’s designed for your appetite (and availability) for gathering and learning. Each module stands alone, may be used at the time that works for your Havurah, and offers something important for the season. The learning modules will be on our website, accessible to everyone, to use as you see fit.
The High Holy Days Havurah Learning Modules:
Elul 1:
Love is the essence. Kavanot (Setting Intentions through our Prayers) for the season.
Elul 2:
Teshuvah (repentance; turning, returning): How can the teachings of the season support our cheshbon ha-nefesh (taking an account of the state of our souls) and our teshuvah (making reparations and returning to our highest selves)?
Elul 3:
Choose Life! What does it mean for all members of our society to be able to choose life? What does Teshuvah (turning from cruelty or indifference) look like when our lives are woven in the fabric of unjust systems? 
Elul 4:
Din V’Rachamim (Justice/Judgment & Mercy/Compassion): What are the real world implications of the Rosh Hashana image of a heavenly court in which perfect justice is weighed against compassion and forgiveness?
Rosh Hashanah:
Tashlich (a casting-away ritual by water.) Join the Shir Tikvah program or gather with your Havurah 
10 Days of Awe:
Kavod (human dignity) is said to be the heart of all justice activism. How does kavod manifest in the Al Chet (Yom Kippur confession)? What other values are prioritized by admitting our communal guilt?
Yom Kippur:
Al Chet (Yom Kippur confession) What is the communal confession and prayer that your Havurah needs to express, on behalf of the wider community?
Sukkot draws attention to housing fragility. Learn the texts over a Siyyum (closing celebration). 
Please take two minutes to indicate your Havurah preferences before August 16! 

We welcome your questions or comments as we move into the season of return and transformation! Please direct your Havurah and adult learning-related questions to Rabbi Rappaport

Looking forward to learning and growing with you this season,
Rabbi Debra Rappaport, Rabbi Arielle Lekach-Rosenberg, Rabbi Michael Adam Latz