Dvir Kahana, director general of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs (right). Credit: Matty Stern/U.S.Embassy Tel Aviv

 

The Jewish Intentional Communities Incubator Hakhel has added 27 new communities based in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium, Norway, and Australia. Within the United States, new communities have joined from Massachusetts, Colorado, Nevada, California, New York, and Georgia.

Hakhel is at the forefront of fostering Jewish continuity by forging intentional communities, given that community is the second most important factor in Jewish identity, after the family.

A Jewish Intentional Community is one built of individuals who live in close proximity to each other; share a sense of purpose around what it means to be in a community; have a long-term vision for the community they seek to create; are rooted in Jewish life, to whatever extent they are comfortable; and meet together on a regular basis with the intention of reaching a wider group of people and having an impact in the world at large.

The new communities have all undergone a thorough application and vetting process, including both written statements and interviews with Hakhel’s staff and its partner in the endeavor, Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.

The U.S.-based entities chosen for this cohort include Zamor in Newton Centre, MA; Career Up Now Boston in Boston, MA; Hessed VeEmet in Denver, CO; LVJW in Las Vegas, NV; Young Men of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, NV; Aishlit Los Angeles in Los Angeles, CA; Career Up Now Community in Los Angeles, CA; Career Up Now Los Angeles in Los Angeles, CA; Mamash in San Diego, CA; Career Up Now Palo Alto in San Francisco, CA; Career Up Now San Francisco in San Francisco, CA; East Bay – Hakehila in Berkley, CA; New City Minyan in New City, NY; JewSalsa NYC in New York, NY; Shimshonim in Brooklyn, NY; and Cookbook Chaburah in Sandy Springs, GA.

These communities will receive professional support from Hakhel over the next three years to develop their community based on their specific needs, such as increasing participation, fundraising, branding, programming, education, or any other aspect of their growth. They’ll continue to work with Hakhel’s staff to develop sustainable models for ongoing growth, helping to ensure the continuation of the connection to Jewish identity and services for their members.

According to a recent survey commissioned by Hakhel and conducted by the well-regarded Do-Et Institute in Israel, disengagement with traditional Jewish communal organizations like synagogues and community centers is far worse than previously documented. Hakhel sees it as its mission to help create Jewish communities that meet the needs of millennials.

“The plethora of these new communities joining the Hakhel network shows that our formula for engaging millennials is working and taking root for Jews throughout the world. We are encouraged by the geographic diversity of the intentional communities joining our program,” said Hakhel founder and general director Aharon Ariel Lavi. “This is another sign that millennials are looking for a different solution when it comes to their religious experience. If we are innovative in our approach it can have a meaningful impact for generations.”

“The State of Israel understands its obligation to help diaspora communities grow in their connection to Judaism and our homeland. We support the work of Hakhel and its programming with intentional communities around the world because we have seen the wonderful results of more engaged Jews, particularly millennials, as a result of that great work,” said Dvir Kahana, director general of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Hakhel’s key partner.

Founded in 2014, Hakhel is the first and largest global incubator for Jewish intentional communities. Its mission is to spark and support new expressions of Jewish life in the Diaspora by nurturing the growth of intentional communities with mentorship, seed funding, and network building. Hakhel operates in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, which works to strengthen Jewish life in the Diaspora and connection to Israel.

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