a note from the director
This summer, the Open Dor Project is celebrating success and marking growth and change. I’m writing to introduce myself, as together we build on Rabbi George’s thoughtful work in building the Open Dor Project.
The Open Dor Project celebrates Jewish creativity – of rabbis embracing the unknown to pursue a deeply held vision and of communities experimenting and experiencing meaningful Jewish living. Jacob ben-Sheshet Gerondi, a 13th century Kabbalist, wrote that it is a mitzvah for every person to innovate in Torah according to his or her capacity. I love this concept, because it reminds us that Judaism and Jews are constantly growing and evolving, each of us architects and engineers of our Jewish lives.
The Open Dor Project embraces this mindset in supporting innovation in communities around the country. In this newsletter each month, we will elevate the creative and inspiring work of Open Dor rabbis and communities.
B’shutafut, in partnership,
Rabbi Ana Bonnheim Director, Open Dor Project
The newsletter periodically spotlights Open Dor-funded communities to share more information about their work and growth. This edition highlights the Jewish Studio Project, a urban art studio and spiritual Jewish community, based in Berkeley, CA.
Hope you are all well. It’s been a really exciting Summer for us at the Studio and we’re grateful to get to share some of this with you.
In July, Rachel Brodie, who some of you know, joined the JSP team as Senior Educator. Hiring Rachel feels like a really big step for our team - she comes to us with incredible experience and a huge fan club. Rachel is working most closely with Adina on program design and facilitation and is expanding our capacity to lead programs both in the Bay Area and across the country. For example, Rachel has taken over leadership of Creative Commentary, our bi-weekly parsha study and reflective writing program.
In May, we launched our inaugural Creative Facilitator Training (CFT) with eleven Fellows from New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Seattle and the Bay Area - all of whom are alumni of our Studio Immersive program. We designed this five-month training program to both deepen their personal practice with the Jewish Studio Process and begin to build skills to lead it in their home communities and organizations. The CFT began with a three-month dive into “Home Practice” where Fellows were given resources and prompts to deepen their personal creative practice and have virtual chevrutah sessions to strengthen their confidence with text. In late July, they all came to Berkeley for their onsite week. It was such a thrill to all be together and to see them becoming a spiritual learning community - supporting one another in the ways they wanted to grow in relation to our process, collaborating and giving feedback. The CFT will conclude at the end of September with a Practicum - each Fellow will facilitate a program in the JSP method for their home community. It’s really cool to see a network forming of folks that are deeply committed to this work and who will continue to learn together as an ongoing community. As an organization, we are learning how to do this as we move ahead in real time. For example, we’re currently working on designing the post-CFT plan for how we will continue to support and invest in our Fellows on an ongoing basis.
Also this Summer, we found out that JSP was selected for Project Accelerate, a two year professional development fellowship and capacity building program for nonprofits entering a new stage of growth and development. This is important validation of our work to date and is also putting new challenges in front of us related to infrastructure, fundraising, etc.
In addition to these exciting milestones, we recently opened up applications for our Fall 2019 Studio Immersive, are preparing to lead the Berkeley Community High Holy Day Services for the fourth year and are gearing up for our Fall professional development and community calendar.
Wishing everyone well as we enter this time of reflection and transition ahead of the New Year.
Team JSP Rabbi Adina Allen, Co-Founder and Creative Director Jeff Kasowitz, Co-Founder and Executive Director