Fringes’ Founding Statement

New Feminist Havurah Begins on February 10, 2007

Announcing the creation of Fringes, a new havurah. Created from our
yearning for a different kind of spiritual practice, based in the deep questions Feminists have raised about Jewish practice and meaning, and from our desire for the intentionality of a havurah community, Fringes will meet monthly for Shabbat morning services, beginning on the second Saturday in February. We will meet in Germantown; exact location and start time TBA.

Fringes takes our name from the tzitzit on our tallitot/prayer shawls.  Far more than just trim, it is the fringes that define the tallit, that make fabric into a sacred garment. Fringes dangle on the edges, are sometimes stepped on, yet are necessary to define the boundaries of community, and are brought together at the Sh’ma as an act of love and courage—that which is outermost speaks the heart of the innermost.

Fringes Havurah welcomes participation by all people who seek a spiritual practice that includes our values and guidelines as listed below. 

Why a new havurah?

While the initial organizers are members of Mishkan Shalom, we have also discovered a shared craving for a spiritual practice that meets our needs as Feminists and our desire for a more intimate davenning community. We’ve decided to start meeting and building an experience together, leaving open the question of what relationship the group might have with any organized Jewish community in the future. We all believe that Jewish meaning and practice are determined by communal consent and practice, not granted by an institution. Most urgently, we are creating a havurah to embody a Judaism that responds to Rachel Adler’s call: “Our task is to work together so that, when we pray, none of us is dead, and none of us is silent.” And we know this group will be one that honors the wisdom of voices that have been silenced or marginalized.

What are the values we share?

While we’re still shaping options about how a service will go, we know we want these elements and values to be central:

* serving the needs of adult spirituality

* great music, singing as prayer, strong musical leadership

* space for deep Torah discussions (in text study, probably not a formal Torah service)

* feminist liturgy—beyond egalitarian to a search for new words and images that capture the wealth and diversity of all our lives

*a Jewish spiritual practice that is inclusive of, or even weighted toward, perspectives and language that are not God-centered

* shacharit structure—in form and deep structure, a Jewish morning service, interpreted to serve our communal needs

* liturgy lab—space and time to try new words and rituals

* emphasis on building experiential Judaism—moving beyond just saying the words quickly in order to uncover, recover, and invent meaningful ritual elements

* looking to the richness of the many different Jewish traditions for new ideas (rather than to Buddhism, new age practices, etc.)

* anti-war, pro-peace and pro-justice orientation—this includes calling into question, revising, or abandoning prayers that invoke a god of war who slaughters enemies, or metaphors built on war or violence

* non-Zionist—a vision of Judaism that embraces our lives here and now, as Jews building a meaningful life through our own acts of study, discussion, and creativity

If this speaks to you, and you have interest in being part of it,  please reply to this email and let us know. We will put together an announcement list to keep people informed. If you think you would be interested in helping to create services, or parts of services, please tell us that too.

As mentioned above, we expect the first meeting to be February 10th, time and location TBA.  At the end of the first meeting, we will discuss calendar issues and settle on a regular monthly schedule.  We will also discuss some of the details of making this work and invite people to participate in different ways.  As this gets started, we will take responsibility for putting the services together, but we are quite interested in having others share in the creativity and responsibility of that work if and when it is possible.

Karen Escovitz (Otter)
Elliott batTzedek
Hannah Schwartzschild

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