My family has found a Jewish home at Kavana! My wife and I were looking for a community in which to raise our children that is more open-minded than a traditional congregation, and found in Kavana a place where Jews of all shapes and sizes are treated equally. We're thrilled with the emphasis on practicing Judiasm, as opposed to just watching professionals practice it at services. And, the net result has been that we live a much more Jewish life than we would have if it weren't for Kavana.
Kavana is a wonderful organization that provides opportunites for Jews from a wide variety of backgrounds to make their Judaism relevant and meaningful--whether through learning, prayer, social justice, or the outdoors. I particularly love the Rebbe's Tisch which is an opportunity to share music, Havdalah, food and drink, and Torah in a relaxed setting.
I have been participating in Kavana for almost three years. I regularly attend Shabbat davening and Living Room Learning, as well as High Holiday services. I find its DIY approach to Judaism engaging and fulfilling. Kavana has provided a supportive and open community for increasing my own Jewish knowledge and skills.
Last week, my 7 yr old son got angry with me. Why? because I didn't plan a family shabbat dinner and, instead, had the kids eat before bed. That night, just as I was putting my 4 year old daughter to bed, she started singing "Ma's Leg".."Ma's Leg" at the top of her lungs. I asked her what she thought that meant, and she correctly answered "Fork!". When Kavana was started, one of the outcomes we were targeting was that it engender not just a positive identity, but that special pixie dust that usually accompanies trips to Israel and summer camp. My children's exuberance - and my ability to also personally enjoy meaningful experiences - prove to me that we are on an amazing track towards success!
Kavana has made it possible for my husband and I to daven in a meaningful way for the last 2 years after 4 years of feeling we did not have a place to go. Because of Kavana, we are now thinking about participating in a Jewish community year round, and feel empowered to know that if we have children, there is a place we feel will help us instill the values and experiences we care about.
Kavana is the first Jewish community where I have felt truly welcomed. When attending large synagogues or community events, often only the people who know me would talk to me or welcome me, however at Kavana, not only do the staff always welcome me and check in with me periodically, but the entire community welcomes me. Even though I am not as active with Kavana as I would like to be, I always feel comfortable and a part of the community when I do attend something.
Having raised sons in Michigan, where we were active in our Temple, I found that only Jewish camp experience fostered the sense of Peoplehood and joy in being Jewish that is lasting. Kavana has been able to capture my grandchildren and all the many children of all ages in enthusiastically learning our traditions and the fun of actively being involved in preparing for and celebrating our holidays. Rabbi Rachel is the Peid Piper and both my 8 year old granddaughter and 6 year old grandson adore her.The concept of involving all the generations of each family in activities forges a bond that extends into each home. At age 80, having lived in many different parts of the country, I find Kavana to be unique.
I have been slow to fully participate in Kavana's variety of experience believing that only time would reveal whether this Jewish Community was truly different from others I have attempted to become a part of. And my patience has been rewarded. This is a community of bright and engaged people who want to explore religion, community, ethnicity, ethics, values and ideas. They provide forums and activities which allow for disccussion, exploration and fun. I feel very lucky.
For a while I felt that I was missing a part of my Jewish identity, as I did not feel connected with a particular synagogue, but I was too old to be a regular at Hillel. After finding Kavana, this is the type of place that strives to make everyone feel connected, takes into account that people come from different backgounds and life experiences, and works to weave it all into something that strives to give each member what they seek.
I suppose on some level I must have been searching for a Jewish community and organization to belong to, after being out of things for a while. However, I don't think I really knew it until I met the folks at Kavana. There's just something terribly contagious about the warmth, sincerity, humor, curiosity, intelligence, and..."kavana" that permeates the group, from Rabbi Rachel on downward (...upward? around?). "Multiple entry points to Jewish involvement" is a very nice phrase but the reality of it played out in a room full of eager participants with something to share is even better. Yasher Koach!