Fringes: a feminist, non-zionist havurah was founded in Philadelphia in the winter of 2007. We are co-led by Elliott batTzedek and Karen Escovitz; other members sometimes share leadership of the service or of torah discussions.
We meet the 2nd Saturday of every month in Northwest Philadelphia. Pre-COVID, our usual prayer space is the Social Hall of the Germantown Friends Meeting House. The Quakers took us in after our own synagogue kicked us out, and we’ll always be gratefu. Since April of 2020 we’ve been meeting online.
We are a feminist havurah, which means we pay close attention to gender and power. We are not a “women’s havurah;” our members fall across gender identities, and our commitment is to reinventing prayer, not only changing grammar or referring to god as “she.” We are a non-zionist havurah, which means that we locate the sacred here, where we live. We believe that all people are chosen and all land is holy.
We were founded, in part, from a question posed by feminist theologian Rachel Adler, “If we don’t mean the words we use when we pray, what are we doing?” To meet this challenge, we created services follow the structure of the regular Shabbat morning service, but the words we pray are new. Much of our liturgy comes from contemporary poetry, mainly by astounding women writers. We have a talented song leader, so music is a vital element in our services. Both the poems and the songs define how we worship: “prayers that sing and songs that pray.”