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.
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.