In the January 24, 2019 Jewish Journal, it was reported that “mirroring a national trend” the [Havurah] movement has mostly “fizzled out. Various North Shore rabbis mentioned that while they were aware of private havurot in their congregations, they do not know of any current, independently organized ones.” Well, as your scribe Linda Greenstein reported in October 19, 2017, in an article titled, “Andover congregation renews focus on change for the good” – I guess we have evidence, to quote Mark Twain that “rumors of our death have been greatly exaggerated!” As the oldest organized Jewish congregation based in Andover, Massachusetts, we began in the 1960s and have since reached out to cover the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire. We also became the first area Jewish community to officially join Welcoming Faiths, as an open and welcoming place to pray.
As a vibrant reconstructionist community, Havurat Shalom, one of two identically named havurot in the northeast corner of Massachusetts, we have been able to take the essential elements of the original havurot movement, and add some structure and sustainability features that give our community a permanence, while preserving the dedication to the values of friendship, communal observance, learning, being open and welcoming to all, social justice and action. With a vibrant sisterhood, parent-run Hebrew school with professional teachers, tzedakah committee, social justice committee, bar and bat mitzvah tutoring, shabbat and holiday services, we have a congregation with co-op values – led by a partnership between a loving and brilliant rabbi [Karen Landy] and a board of directors. True to the origins of the havurot movement we move forward and ever-changing, reflecting the needs and wishes of our community.
So, to those North Shore rabbis who do not know of us – we welcome you to come and share in the beauty of our community observances. You are certainly welcome to attend our open High Holy Day services too, and we don’t charge for tickets!
Ben Kellman, President
David Hastings, Chazzan