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.
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.
I went to Rosh H. for services and dinner. This is a welcoming community. The Rabbi made the service relevant to today's concerns without sounding overly preachy. There was a wonderful focus on making it personal, yet involving the community through participation.
This syn-Co-op offers an intelligent, hamish, post-modernist response to the never-ending negotations Jewish individuals make with the idea of community - particularly those based in the Northwest where nature is culture, is religion. Inclusive doesn't begin to describe Kavana's atmosphere - bring your needy, your neurotic, your not-sure, your really not-sure. The tent is big. And, if God is in the details, then Kavana is the Martha Stewartstein of minyans. People return emails and promptly. People do what they say they will do. Accountability may be the guiding precept of this group, but organizational tidiness (is that a word?) can't be far behind. Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum resists praise like its like plague, but one must credit her, her husband Noam Pianko (I hope I have his name correctly spelled) and founding partner Suzi LeVine for so bravely pursuing this paradigm. There's progressive and there's open and then there's inviting complete strangers into one's home on a weekly basis and serving them textual exegesis and marcona almonds. On a personal note, I think she is the first rabbi - especially one 31 weeks into pregnancy - to attend a film premiere of mine - me, a very new member who has yet to pay into the community coffer. I am exceedingly grateful to have found this group and hope that its model for integrity and intelligence, sustenance and sustainability will inspire others in ways we can't even begin to imagine.
I've been searching for a Jewish community to become involved with and until I was made aware of the Kavana Cooperative I simply did not connect in the way I was hoping to. After attending my first activity, Living Room Learning, I sensed this was what I was searching for. The people I've met so far are welcoming, friendly, span several generations, fun to be with, embrace diverse expressions of one's Judaism and are supportive of each individual's path in his/her own personal life journey. Having had been observant for many years and now am seeking to return to my heritage, and not sure where this will lead me, I feel safe and inspired by the energy and diverse activities at Kavana. I am also very grateful to have met a Jewish community who welcomes my non Jewish boyfriend.
I have enjoyed many activities with the Kavana Cooperative over the past three years including community (often Shabbat) dinners, cooking classes, and in 2009 weekly participation in the Kavana Tuv Ha'Aretz CSA. I'm finding the benefits of the CSA (community supported agriculture) go beyond buying local produce direct from a farm, an excellent end in itself. Through our CSA we have developed a personal relationship with our farmer, and enriched our community with weekly activities that raise our awareness of local and sustainable food practices, and are just plain fun!