We’re living in an historic moment of the American Jewish story, as we seek ways to sustain and grow Jewish life within the dizzying array of choices and opportunities today’s world presents to us. We live not only in the marketplace of ideas, but also the marketplace of identities. Fluidity and diversity animate our society now shaped by consent, and no longer by descent.

To ensure the ongoing relevance and robustness of Jewish tradition and Jewish peoplehood, BJ, with its long history of courageous and creative Jewish vision, is offering the Jewish Home Project as a response to this challenge.

By expanding the sacred energy of our communal sanctuary into our mikdashei me’at, the sanctuaries of our homes, the Jewish Home Project will deepen and enrich the Jewish life of individuals, couples and families of all backgrounds, and strengthen the Jewish identity of our BJ members in their daily, lived experiences. Facilitating a pluralistic, intimate, personal, meaning-filled, empowering and transformative approach to Jewish life, The Jewish Home Project will forge pathways for Judaism to be embraced and celebrated within the many and varied spaces we and our families inhabit, both within the Jewish world and beyond.

The Jewish Home Project is not only an expression of Jewish innovation and creativity; it’s an expression of Jewish responsibility. And most importantly, unlike other communal responses to this historic moment, the Jewish Home Project isn’t an expression of fear, vulnerability, or despair about the Jewish future. It’s an expression of hope, trust, love and joy in the Jewish future we’re building together.

 

What Will the Jewish Home Project Look Like?

Find out about the initiatives we plan to unfold in the coming year, some of which are already underway:

Create an online living library of written and digital Jewish resources to which BJ families can turn for information and inspiration about building their Jewish homes. An evolving multimedia encyclopedia filled with curated articles, films, TED talks, interviews, recipes, how-to videos and more, as well as contributions and reflections by BJ members about their own Jewish homes, will be at the fingertips of BJ families seeking to make informed choices to enrich and deepen their Jewish lives. Build an ever-expanding bookcase of virtual Torah in every BJ home.

Bring more Jewish life to our homes by offering creative and engaging classes, ritual workshops and experiential programs exploring a variety of approaches to Shabbat and holiday observances, Kashrut, tzedek and justice work, spirituality, Israel engagement and other aspects of Jewish home life. Programs will encourage people to make informed, authentic commitments that are compatible with their Jewish beliefs and values. Using traditional ingredients, we’ll share new recipes for home-based Jewish celebrations, milestones and activities, extending the spirituality of our communal sanctuary into our mikdashei me’at, the sanctuaries of our homes.

Walk BJ couples down the aisle through a newly redesigned pre-wedding series. Lead them to their huppah with enhanced spiritual and practical preparation for building a Jewish home, cultivating lifelong relationship skills, embodying the values of a Jewish marriage, and, for multifaith/multiheritage couples, facing the unique challenges and opportunities of bringing their lives together. Provide newly married couples with their first Shabbat meal, and facilitate Shabbat invitations from other BJ families when they return from their honeymoons!

Embark on a groundbreaking initiative to welcome multifaith/multiheritage couples and families into BJ. Support them as they build their Jewish homes and develop an inclusive language in which to tell and live their Jewish stories. Guide their creation of shared and individual spiritual space. Educate our community to be most welcoming of an increasingly diverse membership, and open avenues to greater engagement of people in our community from other religious and cultural backgrounds.

Pave new pathways for those seeking to join the Jewish people. Enhance and enrich the conversion experience through a mentoring program, the creation of conversion cohorts, community-wide “tastes of Judaism” events, and targeted, smaller versions of an “Introduction to Judaism” class such as one for parents of Hebrew school students featuring a curriculum that mirrors their children’s and focuses on parts of Judaism most relevant to home and family.

Create opportunities for smaller supportive groups to be born, nurturing a sense of belonging for our members. Cultivate more intimate bonds and strengthen our fellowship with one another, sharing our blessings and challenges around building a Jewish home. Invite members over for tea or a glass of wine and some guided conversation about contemporary Jewish identity and community or a thought-provoking film.  

Ensure that everyone at BJ sees themselves reflected in the diverse mosaic of faces that is the portrait of our community. Help us tell all our stories, through videos and print materials that will include the voices and faces of LGBTQ members, people of color, people with disabilities, single-parent families, multifaith/multiheritage families, blended families, and others who comprise our wondrous community of manifold reflections.

 

Upcoming Programs

Demystifying Mikvah with the Jewish Home Project

Sunday, March 24 | 10:30AM | West Side Mikvah, 236 West 74th Street
Traditionally associated with weddings, conversions, and niddah rituals, the mikvah can often feel removed from everyday Jewish practice and conversation. Those who have ventured into its sacred waters, however, know the power that this ritual space can hold. Curious about Jewish ritual immersion, or looking to deepen your understanding about this sacred ritual space? Do you consider the mikvah as a way to commemorate an important life-cycle event, but are you not sure what questions to ask or where to start?  This is the tour for you! Join the Jewish Home Project and Rabbinic Fellow Margo Hughes-Robinson for a mid-morning tour of the West Side Mikvah with ImmerseNYC and a discussion on the potential of mikvah practice for spiritual meaning.

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Next Stop...Kids

Thursdays, March 28; April 4, 11 | 7:00-8:30PM | Community House

Thinking about having children? Not sure if having a child is the next step for you? Expecting a child soon? Exploring parenthood through adoption, single parenting, or surrogacy? Join us for a three-part series as we explore a different element of parenthood in each expert-led session.

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Finding Your Haggadah

Sunday, March 31 | 10:30AM | Middle Room

Are you getting ready to lead a Pesah seder and need help choosing a haggadah? Not sure what a haggadah is or how to find the right one for your seder? Perhaps you already have a haggadah you usually use, and are looking to add meaning through supplementary readings and reflections. Join Rabbi Adina Lewittes after morning minyan for a pre-Pesah breakfast where we will compare different haggadot and explore creative ways to enjoy a text that will guide and inspire you and your seder guests.

Contact Sarah with any questions.

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From Generation to Generation: A Grandparenting Series

Mondays, April 1-15 | 7:30PM | Community House
Among the blessings and burdens of multi-generational families are questions about how each generation will assume responsibility for the past, present, and future. The continuous unpacking and repacking of bundles of family memories, values, commitments, and traditions that each carries with them—that each has inherited and each seeks to bequeath—brings great hope, but often great anxiety. For grandparents, this is often an invitation for deep reflection about the legacy they wish to leave their descendants, and the boundaries that bring both closeness and respect to family life.
Join BJ’s Jewish Home Project for one, or all, of the three sessions to explore these themes with other grandparents, practitioners, and teachers in settings filled with learning, sharing, and support.

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The Insights of Rav Soloveitchik on the Haggadah

Thursday, April 11 | 7:00-8:30PM | Community House Room 411

Prepare for Pesah by joining Rabbi Adina Lewittes to study some of Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik (the Rav)’s commentary on the Haggadah, which will enhance your seder table discussions and enrich your Jewish learning. 

Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik, known simply as the Rav, is one of modern Judaism’s most important thinkers. He was the leading talmudist and philosopher who guided modern Orthodoxy’s relationship with the realities, promises, and problems of the 20th century. Beloved teachers of such important leaders as Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, Rabbi David Hartman, and so many others, the Rav combined rigorous talmudic analysis with deep philosophical exploration in his teachings about Jewish religious life and the universal human experience.

Registration is encouraged, but not required.

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ReGroup Shabbat Dinner

Friday, April 12 | Following the Kabbalat Shabbat Service | Frankel Hall

Join us for a hametz-filled Shabbat dinner, at which you’ll learn how to create a Shabbat meal in your own home. Hametz is the leavened food and grain products we don’t eat on Pesah, such as challah, pasta, cookies, and more. 

ReGroup is a program open to people who want to create a Jewish home that have been through an intensive course of Jewish learning, as well as multi-faith, multi-heritage, and multicultural families, and people who are currently in, or have completed, the conversion process.

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Next Stop...Marriage

Tuesdays, April 30; May 7, 14 | 7:00-8:30PM | Chapel

Couples are invited to join us for a three-part pre-marriage series to help you prepare for your wedding and beyond. Explore a different element of marriage in each expert-led session.

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ReGroup

Thursday, May 16 | 7:00PM | Chapel

Are you seeking a Jewish home for your spiritual search? Wondering about what role Judaism can play in your multi-faith or multi-heritage family? Maybe you’ve completed an intensive course of Jewish learning, and are searching for a community in which to continue your journey. Want to connect with other people going through, or who have recently finished, the conversion process? ReGroup is the place for you. We’ll share our experiences of building our Jewish identities and explore different ways of bringing Judaism and Jewish living into our lives.

To learn more, or to R.S.V.P., email Sarah.