B’nai Jeshurun consists of over 1,800 households, including young and old, men and women, longtime members and new. We come from many different places geographically, socially, economically, in terms of sexual orientation, and in Jewish background. Because we are nonaffiliated and welcome people from all streams of Judaism, our members are particularly diverse and open-minded. What unifies our community is a common interest in addressing the authentic questions of life in partnership with God and our fellow members.
Our tradition teaches us that the quest for meaning does not and cannot take place alone—it must be undertaken within a community. To have the power to change our lives and, through our lives, the world, that group must be more than just a collection of like-minded individuals. To be truly transformative, it must be a kehillah kedoshah, a sacred community.
Large Is Good
“A Jew does not believe alone; he or she believes with the community of Israel; and shares an insight of three thousand years of Jewish history. All generations are present in every generation. The community of Israel lives in every Jew. Every Jew, and the individual Jew, can survive only through intimate attachment to involvement in the community.”
Hundreds of people typically attend our Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat morning services each week. Walking into a space filled with this kind of energy—which only the coming together of so many people can generate—adds to the power of the spiritual and communal experience. The size of our congregation also means that there is a lot going on, providing our members with many opportunities to participate. We encourage and expect members to play an active role in the life of our congregation.
Intimacy Is Possible!
The vitality and strength of the larger community is balanced with intimacy and connection among members. B’nai Jeshurun is a “community of communities,” and we want people to find friends and smaller groups to participate in. Groups form naturally around life-cycle events, age groups, Jewish interests, recreational activities, learning, and social-justice concerns. There are many inroads to getting involved, making friends, and establishing meaningful connections.
Participation Is Key
A significant proportion of our members are involved in planning activities that strengthen our community, and that participatory spirit is one of BJ’s greatest attributes. Tze’irim (a group for members in their 20s and 30s) and Mekusharim (for those 55 and older), for example, often host events. Other BJ groups focus on support for those in need, for example Bikkur Holim (visiting the ill) and Hevra Kadisha (comforting mourners). Social Action/Social Justice groups work for change in our city, state, nation, and world. Family-oriented groups enrich BJ’s Hebrew School and extensive programming for young families. And a range of committees are devoted to organizing Jewish cultural experiences, kiddushim, social and educational programming, and retreats. Every member can find meaningful and fun ways to be involved at B’nai Jeshurun.