A havurah (pl. havurot) is a small group of individuals with common interests and the desire to meet together on a regular basis to share life experiences, holiday activities, or study. What a havurah does is entirely up to you. Your group can enjoy a Shabbat dinner together, have a Hanukkah party, or even go camping if you are so inclined. Some havurah activities involve children; some do not. The goal is to get together regularly to do something everyone enjoys.
“I was interested in being a part of a havurah because I was looking for ways to connect with more B’nai families.” –Lexi Bock Robbins
Lexi Bock Robbins has now been part of a havurah “friendship group” for about 4 years. She became involved with this already established group through friends; and figured it would be a great way for her family to make personal connections within a big synagogue. This successful havurah mixes up their events – some with kids, and some only with adults. They will all go out to dinner or simply choose to go to a B’nai event together. This particular group has created some fun signature events like:
While each group is different, some key ingredients for this group have been: 1) Setting a calendar 2) Having one or two people designated as organizers
“There is a lot of laughing….my kids get a lot out of these get togethers. They get to be with friends who they have known since nursery school and most who attend different schools, but don’t get to see on a regular basis.” –Dina Cohen Gruber
Dina Gruber’s havurah has been together for about 10 years. The havurah initially was started by the synagogue and over the years some of the families left B’nai and new families were invited to join. While Dina was not part of the initial havurah, she joined because she was looking for a way to socialize with other people who shared the same values and beliefs as her family. Dina was looking for opportunities to celebrate and/or observe the Jewish holidays as an alternate to being with her extended family. This group like many others have some activities that include the kids and some that are adult evenings. This group hosts a pajama Hanukkah/New Years brunch at someone’s home each year; and play a White Elephant game that gets very competitive! Dina and her husband Jay enjoy the chance to slow down and be with friends. A key ingredients to this group is that everyone truly likes and cares about one another.
“This is a group of friends that we can all count on during good times and bad. It is a “grounding” feeling to have our Havurah friends.” –Joanne Zuckerman
Joanne Zuckerman has been part of a havurah “friendship group” through B’nai Israel for 14 years. The group was arranged by Rabbi Safra when her children were quite young, to help create a smaller group of friends within the larger synagogue. This long standing group has evolved over the years as the children are now mostly grown. Some in this group have had losses over the years and the members have been there for each other with support. When at Shabbat services they often sit together. They celebrate simchas together. They have always had a mix of events with and without the kids.