a note from the director
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I’m once again struck by the values that Judaism and the spirit of modern Thanksgiving share (separate from concerns about the Thanksgiving’s origin story). Gratitude can feel both so necessary and so trendy at the same time. And the concept of gratitude goes back to the earliest ethos of our Jewish ancestors.
Over the recent weeks, I’ve begun site visits to the Open Dor communities. One of my observations is that each of the three communities I’ve visited so far (Beloved, Open Temple and Jewish Studio Project) are bringing the Jewish value of gratitude into the fabric of their communities. Whether it’s naming our gratitude to more fully bring ourselves into the artistic process, or reflecting in chevruta partnerships during a Shabbat service, or mingling personal words with other’s musings in a Soul Journal, the Open Dor communities are experimenting with bringing this ancient Jewish value to life in personal and authentic ways.
I also want to share with you one of my favorite Thanksgiving poems with a Jewish lens:
A Prayer for the Thanksgiving Feast From Talking to God by Rabbi Naomi Levy
For the laughter of children, For my own life breath, For the abundance of food on this table, For the ones who prepared this sumptuous feast, For the roof over our heads, The clothes on our backs, For our health, And our wealth of blessings, For this opportunity to celebrate with family and friends, For the freedom to pray these words Without fear, In any language In any faith, In this great country, Whose landscape is as vast and beautiful as her inhabitants. Thank You, God, for giving us all these. Amen.
Rabbi Ana Bonnheim Director, Open Dor Project
The first few months of 5780 have been filled with excitement, joy, and much anticipation for new adventures on the horizon, as The Well nears the middle of our 5th programming year.
We WELLcomed 5780 with over 150 members of our community at Rosh Hashanah on the (Franklin Cider Mill) River, where we gathered together to participate in the ritual of tashlich and start the year on a sweet note with a Michigan favorite, cider and donuts.
Before we knew it, Sukkot was upon us and we were launching our newest professionally-designed, Jewish content-infused escape room! Shaken Not Stirred: A Sukkot-Inspired Escape Room taught participants about the ritual of ushpizin, where the spirits of our heroes visit our Sukkahs during the holiday. In our Escape Room Sukkah, six modern and historic Jewish luminaries had come to visit, and participants were motivated to escape the room in order to earn the title of Next Generation Luminary. As they worked their way through the room, they would meet our featured ushpizin one by one, who each taught the group an important fact about themselves, as well as about the holiday of Sukkot. Armed with this Jewish wisdom and history, the group could work together to solve a series of puzzles and eventually conquer the room!
Our original escape room, Escape From Egypt, launched in our Metro Detroit home in 2018, and then ran in four new communities this year. We're currently lining up folks who want to bring this unique and immersive experience to their own community for the upcoming Passover season, so if that sounds like you, reach out to Rabbi Dan Horwitz!
As of late, we're gearing up for our annual Build The Well fundraising campaign, a three-day crowdfunding campaign where the young adults of Metro Detroit and their families rally to Invest in Community. You can read about the successes of last year's campaign, written about in eJewish Philanthropy here, and follow along on The Well's Facebook for updates on this year's campaign, beginning December 15.
Last but certainly not least, The Well is so excited to be embarking on our first-ever trip to Israel, happening as we speak! In partnership with JDC Entwine, members of The Well's community are spending a week in Israel, having engaging and in-depth interactions with many of Israel's diverse communities, meeting with local leaders, and exploring the country on a deeper level.
We can't wait to share what the rest of our 5th year has in store, and hope to #MeetYouAtTheWell, physically or virtually, very soon!
Rabbi Dan Horwitz Founding Director, The Well