A chavurah or havurah (חבורה Hebrew: "fellowship", plural chavurot) is a small group of like-minded Jews who assemble for the purposes of facilitating Shabbat and holiday prayer services, sharing communal experiences such as lifecycle events, and Jewish learning. Chavurot usually provide autonomous alternatives to established Jewish institutions and Jewish denominations. Most chavurot place an emphasis on egalitarianism in the broad sense (of which gender egalitarianism is one piece), depending on participation by the entire community rather than top-down direction by clergy.



The first havurah in America was formed in September of 1960 in Whittier, California. [1] However, most chavurot in America had their origins in the North American Jewish counter-cultural trends of the late 1960s and early 1970s. During this period, groups of young rabbis, academics, and political activists founded experimental chavurot for prayer and study, in reaction to what they perceived as an over-institutionalized and unspiritual North American Jewish establishment. Initially the main inspiration was the pietistic fellowships of the Pharisees and other ancient Jewish sects.

Also, initially some of these groups, like the Boston-area Havurat Shalom attempted to function as full-fledged rural communes after the model of their secular counterparts. Others formed as communities within the urban or suburban Jewish establishment. Although the leadership and ritual privileges were initially men-only, as in Orthodox Jewish practice, the "second wave" of American feminism soon led to the full integration of women in these communities.


Apart from some tentative articles in Response and other Jewish student magazines, the early chavurot attracted little attention in the wider North American Jewish community. Then, in 1973, Michael and Sharon Strassfeld released The Jewish Catalog: A Do-It-Yourself Kit. Patterned after the recently-published counter-culture Whole Earth Catalog, the book served both as a basic reference on Judaism and American Jewish life, as well as a playful compendium of Jewish crafts, recipes, meditational practices, and political action ideas, all aimed at disaffected young Jewish adults. The Jewish Catalog became one of the best-selling books in American Jewish history to that date and spawned two sequels. A much more widespread chavurah movement soon emerged, including self-governing chavurot within Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist synagogues.


Present-day chavurot include the original chavurot that have functioned continuously since the 1970s, such as Fabrangen and Havurat Shalom, as well as a resurgent wave in independent Jewish communities that have been established post-2000. Both generations of chavurot gather annually at the National Havurah Committee's Summer Institute and at its regional retreats.

Origin of term

The concept of a Chavurah has ancient roots. The Talmud (Tractate Pesachim) uses the term chavurah to identify the group of people registered for a single Passover sacrifice, and who held a Seder together, in the days of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Passover Seder is perhaps the prototypical group ritual (traditionally) held outside a synagogue involving the sharing of communal experiences, Jewish learning, and prayer.

Related Entries


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • chavurah — Seph.,Ashk. /khah vooh rddah /; Eng. /khah voo rah /, n., pl. chavuroth, chavurot Seph. / rddawt /; Ashk. / rddohs /, Eng. chavurahs. Hebrew. havurah. * * * …   Universalium

  • chavurah — Seph.,Ashk. /khah vooh rddah /; Eng. /khah voo rah /, n., pl. chavuroth, chavurot Seph. / rddawt /; Ashk. / rddohs /, Eng. chavurahs. Hebrew. havurah …   Useful english dictionary

  • Fabrangen Fiddlers — The Fabrangen Fiddlers are an American Jewish folk music band. Founded in 1971, the Washington, DC area group were the first music collective devoted to the rediscovery of Jewish folk music and the development of new Jewish liturgical folk… …   Wikipedia

  • Chavruta — For the Israeli Orthodox gays association, see Havruta (organization). Chavrutas (study partners) sit opposite each other or side by side in the beis medrash of Yeshiva Gedola of Carteret. Chavruta, also spelled chavrusa (Hebrew: חַבְרוּתָא‎,… …   Wikipedia

  • Torah study — is the study by Jewish people of the Torah, Hebrew Bible, Talmud, responsa, rabbinic literature and similar works, all of which are Judaism s religious texts. Ideally within Judaism it is done for the purpose of the mitzvah ( commandment ) of… …   Wikipedia

  • Tikkun Leil Shabbat — celebrates Purim Tikkun Leil Shabbat is an independent minyan or chavurah in Washington, DC, organized entirely by volunteer leadership and sponsored by Jews United For Justice, DC s local Jewish social justice organization. The name of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Brit milah — Halakhic texts relating to this article: Torah: Genesis 17:1 14 …   Wikipedia

  • Halakha — Part of a series on …   Wikipedia

  • Hasidic Judaism — Hasidic Jews praying in the synagogue on Yom Kippur, by Maurycy Gottlieb Part of a se …   Wikipedia

  • Jewish holiday — Candles lit on the eve of Shabbat and Jewish holidays For the Gregorian dates of Jewish Holidays, see Jewish holidays 2000 2050. Jewish holidays are days observed by Jews as holy or secular commemorations of important events in Jewish history. In …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.