a note from the director
I hope you’ve all had a meaningful High Holy Day season. As we transition from living a few weeks more absorbed in Jewish time back to our regular routines, I want to share a wonderful book with you, Sarah Hurwitz’s Here All Along, which came out last month. Hurwitz, who was Michelle Obama’s head speechwriter and a longtime political speechwriter, reflects on the depth and enduring truths of Judaism as well as its relevance to life today. (This article (“Religion for Adults Means Embracing Complexity”) also offers a great introduction to her thinking.) Hurwitz shares her journey to discovering what she calls an adult understanding of Judaism.
Hurwitz’s work is a window into the type of work that the Open Dor Project’s spiritual leaders are doing every day: sharing Jewish wisdom and tradition, making it accessible and personal while not shying away from its complexity, nuance and depth. This month, we highlight Beloved, based in Brooklyn, which was founded to do just this.
Sincerely, Rabbi Ana Bonnheim Director, Open Dor Project
After an intense, beautiful summer in Jerusalem, Beloved is back and focusing this year in three core areas: families, prayer, and meditation (in addition to doing too much of everything else!!). In September, we launched Beloved Garden, our new family gathering program designed for parents and children to participate in parallel tracks in a fully engaged intellectual and sensory exploration of the joys of Jewish life. In terms of prayer, Brooklyn is full of Friday night and Saturday morning prayer options so we felt liberated to create a unique, experimental prayer experience that we are calling Prayer Play, in which we invite beloved musicians, poets, and davenners to co-create worship with me. Lastly, our weekly meditation community continues to grow and thrive in beautiful and surprising ways. This year we will deepen our practice with meditation teacher-led mini-retreats, workshops in the arts as a spiritual practice, and more.
The high holy days here at Beloved were truly magical this year, we really dug in for every holiday and each of our 16 holy day gatherings were spirited, full, and fun. Two highlights were Kol Nidrei - we packed the house to the brim and two of our incredibly talented beloveds led us through the full Kol Nidrei liturgy which shook the walls and our hearts (listen to their Kol Nidrei playlist here!) - and a sukkot concert featuring Deborah Sacks Mintz - she had us all on our feet singing niggunim under the stars!
Lastly, Beloved has begun convening 7 communities across the country in similar organizational stages with overlapping values to create a network that can support the growth and sustainability of a wider field. We are in conversation with two national funders about building this network and are excited about possible next steps.
I imagine you know how start-ups can be up and down and sometimes, you look in the mirror and wonder, is this a thing? For the past two months, Isaac and I have felt this intense energy and magic buzzing through the community and we are realizing, yes! It is a thing! Now onwards and upwards!
Rabbi Sara Luria Co-Founder and Executive Director, Beloved