Wednesday, September 13, 2006

North of the border

This week's havurah media frenzy has made it all the way to Canada! The latest article is in the Canadian Jewish News and profiles Sarah Brodbar-Nemzer.

It has some framing problems ("Shomer Shabbat -- to an extent", "levels of observance"), but overall it gets the message across. Thanks Sarah!

“[One of] the two main principles of the havurah movement is that it is participatory, which means everyone, no matter who you are in your life, no matter what you do, you are equal in terms or participation. You have something to teach and you have something to learn,” she said, adding that at the summer institute, every teacher is a student and vice versa.

Classes, which range in topics from “Men, Women, and Sex in the Talmud,” to “Writing and Listening to Jewish Poetry,” are taught and attended by professors, carpenters, students and doctors.

“And these people are sitting next to you in a class. So, a renowned Torah scholar might be sitting next to you, learning interpretive dance,” Brodbar-Nemzer said with a laugh.

Another important NHC principle is that the havurot are egalitarian.

“Normally, egalitarian focuses on questions of gender. We also focus on issues of age. It was a community in which I grew up thinking of myself as an equal participant, and an equal leader. When I joined the board, I was in high school and people said to me, ‘Oh, are you the youth representative on the board?’ I wasn’t there as a token young person. I was there because I was smart and had things to say.”

There's one significant factual error:

With more than 150 havurot and minyanim in 34 states and provinces in North America listed on the NHC website, including Har Kodesh in Montreal, and Or Shalom in Vancouver, there are no listings for anything in Toronto.

That is not to say that there are no minyanim or havurot in Toronto, but none affiliated with NHC.

Actually, there are no minyanim or havurot anywhere that are formally affiliated with the NHC. The NHC doesn't have formal affiliation the way the synagogue movements do. The reason none are listed in Toronto is because no one has submitted any to the directory. If you know of one, email directory at havurah dot org, and it will be added!


  1. This really is some frenzy. Check out the fifth question of this week's Newsweek "Questions of Faith" quiz:

    The movement of smaller, independent Jewish prayer groups that became popular in the '70s was known as:
    a. Shalom
    b. Havurah
    c. Small Temple
    d. Minyan

    I don't remember ever seeing havurot mentioned in non-Jewish press before...

  2. One smaller, less important factual error. The Harry Potter workshop was led by RDL and meself. I'm JUST sayin. :-)

    But wow, I guess the word is getting out there, huh?

  3. I'd like to suggest that another error is in the listing of Canadian havurahs. Vancouver's Or Shalom is not a havurot or a minyan, but a full "pay your membership" Reconstructionist synagogue, with a paid rabbi, etc. For an article in the CJN, it's a shame that they didn't mention the havurahs that are working outside the "big three" cities, such as the big havurah in St John's, Newfoundland, the small ones on the Gulf Islands in BC, or anywhere in between.