How Do You “Do Jewish?”

By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
The heart of our vibrant Jewish community is relationships. Those connections are priceless, regardless of scale – from our bonds of love and kinship with Israel and the wider Jewish world to the micro-communities that spring up from holiday celebrations and neighborhood get-togethers.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle is dedicated to fostering relationships – the bridges over which we communicate, touch each other’s lives, and work together for a better world. With the support of our generous donors, we are bringing people enjoyable opportunities to create connections and build community.

Today, I want to highlight Reset & Refresh, a six-part learning experience that gave participating couples a welcoming, reflective space for self-discovery, rejuvenation, and connecting with each other to explore Jewish life together.

Reset & Refresh was carefully conceived and planned for couples who were not selected for our initial Honeymoon Israel cohort, which will be traveling to Israel in just over a month. As we expected, we received far more applicants for Honeymoon Israel than we had places for, so it was critically important to give couples who were not selected for the initial cohort an opportunity to create a micro-community through an enriching, thoughtful experience.

Reset & Refresh was the first such Jewish engagement experience that we have offered and I’m pleased to report that we received an enthusiastic response from the participating couples. From learning why we gather, to exploring how new Jewish families build Jewish lives, to delving into the meaning of Shabbat, to enjoying artisanal challah baking, Reset & Refresh was a fulfilling exploration into new and traditional byways of Jewish life that gave the couples a compass to guide their own Jewish journeys.

We are looking at ways to build on this positive experience and to expand Reset & Refresh into a new model of Jewish engagement. We are excited about working with community partners, as we did with the Stroum Jewish Community Center for one of the Reset & Refresh experiences.

What we learned from Reset & Refresh is that there is a strong desire for experiences that help people looking for Jewish connections to create intimate micro-communities where they can “do Jewish” in whatever ways match their values, passions, and interests. Through such engaging experiences, relationships are created and take root – enlivening community life and extending a welcoming hand to all who want to be a part of it.

Even though the formal program has concluded, the group is getting together again on May 14 to attend the “Lasting Love: Secrets of Happy Couples” lecture with Dr. John Gottman at Temple De Hirsch Sinai. We look forward to experiencing how the group continues connecting with Jewish life around the region and further develops their new micro-community.

We are excited to take the momentum from this first pilot series and replicate its success for future cohorts.