2020 Convening Recap


Shalom Friends, The Open Dor Project rabbis joined together for three days this month. We met at El Capitan Canyon, outside of Santa Barbara. Robin and Roger Himovitz, who envisioned and built El Cap, welcomed and hosted us with warmth and hospitality. Some of the rabbis also brought a staff member or lay leader from their communities to be part of the conversations.


(left to right) Rabbi Ana Bonnheim, Open Dor Project;  Rabbi Rami Schwarzer, The Den Collective;  Rabbi Adina Allen, Jewish Studio Project;  Rabbi Lori Shapiro, Open Temple;  Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg, Malkhut;  Rabbi Dan Horwitz, The Well


The convening was anchored by the Rabbi Simcha Bonim’s poignant 19th century Chassidic teaching of two texts that a person should keep with them at all times. In one pocket, the scroll would say, “For me, the world was created,” which is a quote from the Talmud. With this quote, we remind ourselves of our uniqueness and our individuality, of the beauty and authenticity within each one of us. And in the other pocket, we should keep the scroll, “I am dust and ashes,” a quote from Genesis. This line is a reminder of the need for humility, that we’re all just living creatures doing our best to make our way in the world, no better and no worse than each other. It’s not one or the other of these approaches we should strive for but a balance between the two.


(top row, left to right) Rabbi Adina Allen, Jewish Studio Project;  Rabbi Ana Bonnheim, Open Dor Project;  Rabbi Dan Horwitz, The Well (bottom row, left to right) Rabbi Rami Schwarzer, The Den Collective;  Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg, Malkhut;  Rabbi Lori Shapiro, Open Temple


These texts, when taken together, are especially relevant to clergy entrepreneurs, who must balance the audacity of their vision and their commitment to believing that they can build it with the humility of striving to create healthy communities based on mutual respect and deep relationship.


Aliza Shapiro & Rabbi Adina Allen, Jewish Studio Project


Rabbi Ana Bonnheim, Open Dor Project, leading session for rabbis, lay leaders, staff, and volunteers.


In the quiet setting of the canyon, sitting on picnic tables on sunny winter California days, this pioneering group crafted questions that have relevance both to their communities and beyond them:

  • When have you made a decision to go a non-traditional route in visioning and building your own community? What was surprising? What has gone as you expected?

  • What are the major elements of the ecosystem in which your community dwells?

  • Beyond just increasing the number of people served, what is something that you want to do that you can’t do for financial reasons?


Mary Tucker and Rabbi Lori Shapiro, Open Temple, Aliza Shapiro and Rabbi Adina Allen, Jewish Studio Project; Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg, Malkhut


Rabbi Rami Schwarzer, The Den Collective; Mary Tucker, Open Temple; Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg, Malkhut


What emerged from our conversations was the recognition that the practices of each community are different, while many of the principles remain the same. We thank these partners for the gifts of their rabbinates and the learnings from their communities, whose ground-setting ways will continue to teach the American Jewish landscape.


Warmly,



Rabbi Ana Bonnheim

Director, Open Dor Project


(top row) Rabbi Rami Schwarzer, The Den Collective; David Cygielman, Moishe House; Tova Katz, One8 Foundation; Jim Heeger; Aliza Shapiro, Jewish Studio Project; Mary Tucker, Open Temple; Rabbi Ana Bonnheim, Open Dor Project; Dr. Ari Kellman, Stamford University; George Roberts, The Well, Rabbi Dan Horwitz, The Well (bottom row) Rabbi Adina Allen, Jewish Studio Project; Rabbi Lori Shapiro, Open Temple; Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg, Malkhut; Ivy Berman, Open Dor Project

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