A New Form of Kavana

When I get no response to the ideas I present, I try to remember that even Abraham Lincoln received no response after the Gettysburg Address, and thought that he had failed miserably. Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum, left, and Kavana co-founder Suzan LeVine Likewise, a new innovative project called The Kavana Cooperative (kavana is the Hebrew word for intention) is based on a concept that was initially met with “a deafening silence” when first put forth 25 years ago, as reported in JT News. The Kavana Cooperative is an alternative Jewish community (alternative to synagogue, that is) that grows organically, based on a food cooperative model (and we thank Becca Boggs for calling it to our attention).

It is led by Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum and was influenced by Rabbi Anson Laytner who wrote an article about combating the passivity of synagogue life. Listen to what some of the new members of the coop expressed—of particular interest to those of us trying to create a barrier-free community that is welcoming, particularly of interfaith families:

“Others weren’t Jewish, but wanted to join their spouses in understanding their desire to lead a Jewish life.”

“Tatiana Becker, who a month ago returned from a Birthright Israel trip in conjunction with the Livnot U’Lehibanot community-service organization, said she feared her return to Seattle would be a letdown from the challenging discussions and learning she engaged in while in Israel….Becker did not grow up with a Jewish background, though her father is Jewish. When she was married earlier this year, she said her husband, Michael Gregory’s Judaism was ‘one of the things that’s sparked my interest in my roots.’”

With examples like the Kavana Cooperative, a place where people from so many different backgrounds call home, there is good reason to be optimistic about the health and future of the North American Jewish community.

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