Fringes: a feminist, non-zionist havurah was founded in Philadelphia in the winter of 2007 by Elliott batTzedek, Karen Escovitz, and Hannah Schwarzschild. The members of Fringes come from all kinds of backgrounds, from growing up Orthodox or Conserva-dox through completely not-religious to no formal Jewish background to not Jewish. We are mainly, but not entirely, women, heavily lesbian and queer-identified. We range in age from late-20’s through early 70’s, and come to Fringes from all across the Delaware Valley. After praying together for 9 years, we’ve developed many of our own prayers, rituals, and ways of reading and singing, which you can read about under the tab
Fringes takes our name from the tzitzit, or knotted cords on the corners of the tallit; while these threads are the fringes of the garment, they are responsible a turning a schmata into a prayer shawl. Those of us who founded the group are on the fringes of Judaism in many different ways, and we came together to make our experiences as outsiders the heart of this community.
The three co-founders, and many of the members, are also Jewish activists for justice in Palestine/Israel and for Palestinian human and civil rights. This put us at odds with our synagogue and the other choices for service communities. While U.S. Jewish spiritual practice has only been Zionist for a couple of generations, calling the Zionist worldview into question is a strong taboo. We needed a prayer community in which our range of opinions was welcome, and our questions could be explored rather than silenced. And so, like thousands and thousands of Jews before us, we set out to create the community we needed.