Three years ago this August, six families, 12 adults and 14 children gathered together for our first Havurah, which is a group of people who get together regularly to celebrate Jewish life, socialize, learn and pray together. I got this idea from my sister who lives in a suburb of Chicago. When she and her family moved to the suburbs she wanted to stay in touch with her friends so she and a few others started a small Shabbat group. When I visited her, she brought me to a Shabbat dinner with so many families I couldn’t even count. So much for small! The group kept growing as more “city” people moved to the ‘burbs.
I had been looking for ways to bring “just a little more Jewishness” into my home. As soon as I got back from my trip, I started to plan my own group. It was really important to me to find a group of Jewish friends that my kids could connect with. And since I love being social, I thought a Havurah might be a great way to make some new friends and hopefully have some adult conversation while the kids run around and play (while NOT destroying the house…I can dream).
I started by emailing a few families who I had spoken with in passing over the years during pre-school pick up. We would always say, “Wouldn’t it be great if we formed a group for Shabbat to keep us all connected after our kids are done with school? ” Even though Minnesotans are known for having bad follow through despite the best intentions, aka “Minnesota Nice”, we really did want to get together and we set a date.
I had been looking for ways to bring “just a little more Jewishness” into my home. It was really important to me to find a group of Jewish friends that my kids could connect with.
Our first gathering was at my home. One of the families I didn’t even know, and a few families had not met each other until that night. But we all hit it off. The kids played, tore the house apart and proudly said the blessings that they learned in preschool and Hebrew school, while the adults chatted, got to know each other, and formed new friendships.
We decided that we would rotate houses each month, with the host providing the main meal and some sides while each family would bring something for the group to share (think Challah, appetizer, desserts). The idea was to keep it simple. We were not bringing out the fine china and no one is polishing the silver. We wanted this to be as low maintenance as possible. I always say, true friends can see you (or your house) at your worst and not judge you, and still want to come back. Thanks, guys.
Who would have thought that three years later, these people in the Havurah would become some of my closest friends? We have created wonderful, lasting relationships.
They have seen me go through the hardest moments in my adult life, stuck by me, offered me advice, support and a little humor along the way. This group holds a special place in my heart and a standing place at my dinner table.