Microsoft word - favorite chavurah tips.doc

1. Pick a Representative.
Pick one or two people who will be the representatives of your Chavurah so theTemple or others know whom to contact for information. These people do nothave any more “power” than anyone else in your Chavurah, but are willing tocommit to the work of communications for the group. These roles should changefrom year to year so that everyone has the opportunity to serve asrepresentative.
2. Communicate.
Decide as a group how to best communicate with each other…phone, email orpostal mail.
3. Goals.
Decide what your general goals will be and what you want to do, based on acombination of social activities, Jewish issues, holiday celebrations, etc. Try andreach a consensus, which satisfies the majority of people.
4. Schedule.
Plan a monthly schedule at least 6 months in advance – a year of planning (atleast dates) is ideal! Include dates, who is responsible for hosting, location andprogram ideas if possible. Send out a copy of the schedule to each member.
5. Plan.
Each member agrees to coordinate and host an event. They are thenresponsible for reminders, as the time gets closer. Fulfill your commitment toeach other by doing your share.
6. Attend.
Attend regularly – make it a priority. Work together to make the gatheringssomething you look forward to.
*BE REALISTIC IN YOUR EXPECTATIONS and recognize the dynamics of yourown Chavurah. Some groups will become real extended families; others willdevelop some close friendships within the group but share a common bond witheveryone and enjoy a variety of experiences together. Others will be united intheir dedication to a common focus like community service or Judaic study.
Don’t compare yourselves but strive for the elements which make your Chavurahspecial to you…with the following exceptions: What everyone in each Chavurah should have in common is a desire tostrengthen your Jewish ties and those of your family, to enrich yourselfJewishly, to feel connected with other Temple members and to enjoy! Tikkun Olam: As Jews it is our responsibility to care for each other, ourcommunity, the greater community and the world.
Volunteer as a group for a Temple program: Chanukah, Purim, Passover,High Holy Days…host a Friday night Oneg.
As a group, make a commitment to volunteer for a service organization(Habitat for Humanity, Eastern Illinois Food Bank, Cancer Walk, etc.) Discussions: Chavurot are often frustrated by the futility of small talk. In aneffort to get people to reveal themselves a bit, and to encourage discussion ofpersonal values and experiences, these topics are sure to work. Try going roundthe room asking people to complete unfinished sentences. For example: • My most significant book, poem, play or person…• My most memorable Jewish moment…• If I won ten million dollars in the lottery I would…• A good Jew is one who…• I hope my children remember me as ….
• The Jewish Community’s most pressing problem is… Learning all year long…some ideas to get you started:Comparative religionsHow other Jews PracticeWhat Judaism says about…(any social issue)Discuss a book everyone agrees to readJewish history, customs, life cycle events…Invite clergy or someone of interest to speak to your group Other activities:As has already been stated – the sky’s the limit! • Camping• Picnics• Movies• Museums• Day Trips• Meals together• Bowling• Skating• Concerts• Political activities Shabbat: Have dinner together either at Temple or in homes.
Havdallah: Having a gathering on a Saturday evening? Start it with theHavdallah service. It’s a beautiful and simple service marking the end ofShabbat. You can get a copy of the service from the Temple.
High Holidays: Have dinner at someone’s home on Rosh Hashanah or breakthe Yom Kippur fast together. Attend services as a group.
Hanukkah: This is a wonderful time for a party – with or without children! It isalso the perfect time for discussion. Hanukkah always raises issues: explainingthe secular Christmas to a Jewish child, negotiating both Hanukkah andChristmas in an interfaith household, feelings of being outside the mainstreamculture, materialism…you get the idea! Tu B’ Shevat: The New Year of Trees falls in late January or early February. It’sa great time to plant…maybe as a group, rotate each year at a differentmember’s home and over the years, the Chavurah will enjoy seeing the tangibleevidence of its growth.
Purim: Join together in the mitzvot of giving Shalach Manot (gifts of food tofriends and neighbors). Prepare packages of treats together and then deliverthem yourselves. Volunteer at or attend the Temple megillah reading and PurimShpiel.
Passover: If some or all of your Chavurah have no other family in town, jointogether for first night Seder. Gathering any of the other nights or attending theTemple Community Seder together on the second night is also a great way toconnect. Share the responsibilities for cooking and parts of the Seder…have thekids do the story in a play.
Yom Ha’shoah: Holocaust Memorial Day can be observed by having a specialservice as a group or attending the Temple observance. Another idea iswatching an appropriate movie with discussion in someone’s home.
Shavuot: Attend services and join the community in celebrating the consecrationof the Confirmation class.
Hanukat Habayit (Dedication of the Home): When a member moves into anew home, have everyone bring both food and a special wish for the newhomeowners. Be together to hang a mezuzah and bless the new house.
Making a Donation: giving tzedakah or host an Oneg at the Temple on behalf ofthe Chavurah can be done to honor any special simcha or to memorialize a loss.
Times to make donations include: births, graduations, retirements, Bar/BatMitzvah, recovery from illness, deaths, yahrzeits, etc.
Shiva & Meal Preparations: Be there for each other during times of family loss.
Have the Chavurah assume responsibility for meals during Shiva and sit Shivawith the family.
Bar & Bat Mitzvah: When a member celebrates a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, have thewhole Chavurah in attendance on Friday night and host the Oneg.
1. Plan:Hold program planning meetings at a minimum of at least every 6months…planning for a year is great, though usually easier after the first year.
Divide up the responsibilities for this planning meeting: who is taking notes, whowill send out the final schedule to all members, refreshments, facilitating themeeting, etc.
Remind all members in advance to bring personal calendars to this meeting.
2. Brainstorm:Brainstorm possible programs. Consider a combination of social, educational,cultural, community service and religious events (check the ideas list in thisbooklet and add to it). Reach consensus on the balance between family andadult only activities. Clarify again some of your goals as a group.
3. Schedule:Schedule your dates. Some Chavurot find that a specific time in the month (e.g.
every 3rd weekend) works best for the most commitment. Other groups handpickdates per the groups calendars. Finding what works for your group is essentialfor best turn out…trial and error in the first couple planning sessions may benecessary for long term success.
Decide who will have responsibility for each program calendared. This can bedone alphabetically by last names, or by interest in a specific program. If somechange is needed, it is the responsibility of the individual in charge of that eventto switch dates with someone else or find a replacement host. Be sure to notifyeveryone of the change.
4. Food:Decide how you want to handle food: potluck each time, host providesrefreshments or others supply food when not hosting? When you send out the copy of the finalized schedule to each member of theChavurah, include an up-to-date roster and directions to each home or venue (ifneeded). You may also wish to include a list of members’ birthdays,anniversaries, etc.
Check in with the group on occasion. Are the programs meeting everyone’sneeds and desires for the Chavurah? Commit to participating regularly!! It really is the only way for the group to deepenthe bonds between members for long-term success. And have fun!


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