Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us about Building Vibrant Jewish Communities

Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us about Building Vibrant Jewish Communities


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Why have thousands of young Jews, otherwise unengaged with formal Jewish life, started more than sixty innovative prayer communities across the United States? What crucial insights can these grassroots communities provide for all of us?

Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, one of the leaders of this revolutionary phenomenon, offers refreshingly new analyses of the age-old question of how to build strong Jewish community. He explores the independent minyan movement and the lessons it has to teach about prayer, community organizing and volunteer leadership, and its implications for contemporary struggles in American Judaism.

Along with describing the growth of independent minyanim across the country, he examines:

The roles of liturgy, space, music and youth in this new approach to prayer

Lessons to be learned from the concept of immersive, intensive Jewish learning in an egalitarian context

Jewish values in which we must invest to achieve a vibrant, robust American Jewish landscape for the twenty-first century

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781580234122
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 02/01/2010
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, named one of the top fifty Jewish leaders by The Forward , and one of Newsweek 's top fifty rabbis, is cofounder and executive director of Mechon Hadar (www.mechonhadar.org), an institute that empowers Jews to build vibrant Jewish communities. Mechon Hadar has launched the first full-time egalitarian yeshiva program in North America, Yeshivat Hadar (www.yeshivathadar.org), where Rabbi Kaunfer teaches Talmud. A Dorot Fellow and Wexner Graduate Fellow, Rabbi Kaunfer cofounded Kehilat Hadar (www.kehilathadar.org), an independent minyan in Manhattan committed to spirited traditional prayer, study and social action. He was selected as an inaugural Avi Chai Fellow, known as "The Jewish Genius Award."

Prof. Jonathan D. Sarna is the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and director of its Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. He is author of American Judaism: A History , winner of the National Jewish Book Award, among other books.

Table of Contents

Foreword Jonathan D. Sarna ix

Introduction: My Journey to Empowered Judaism 1

1 Kehilat Hadar: A Model of Empowered Judaism 15

2 Independent Minyanim Nationwide: Significance and Impact 61

3 The Diverse Landscape of Independent Minyanim: Voices from the Field 85

4 Engaged Davening: How Empowered Jews Pray 111

5 Yeshivat Hadar: Fostering a Generation of Empowered Jews 129

6 Empowerment and Meaning: A New Frame for Jewish Life 143

7 Pathways Forward: The Real Crisis in American Judaism 157

Appendix: An Empowered Judaism Approach to Understanding Prayer 163

Acknowledgments 177

Notes 183

Glossary 185

Suggestions for Further Reading 193

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