picture of the hav serving as a link back to the home page "about the havurah" title text

...Community and Families...Social Action and Tzedakah...Classes...Membership...FAQ...

Founded in 1968, Havurat Shalom is an egalitarian Jewish community in Somerville, Massachusetts where women and men come to pray and learn; explore, celebrate and grapple with Jewish tradition; work for social justice; and discuss a variety of Jewish concerns. This page offers some more details about the workings of the Havurah and a Frequently Asked Questions List.

Community and Families

Havurat Shalom is a community where people celebrate with each other in good times and support each other in hard times. We have danced at Jewish weddings and commitment ceremonies, watched the naming of babies, and rejoiced over each other's accomplishments. We also have come together for Kaddish minyans, visited each other during illness, and helped each other in times of need.

The Havurah is a welcoming place for families of all kinds. We welcome singles, families of all configurations and interfaith families. We sometimes offer Shabbat childcare. There are children's play rooms on the second floor and a play structure in the back yard. Please see our services and events page for more information about this programming.

Social Action and Tzedakah

Havurat Shalom and its members have been involved with many kinds of social action over the years, including the sanctuary movement, helping homeless people, and the disability rights movement. Our Tzedakah Fund helps further the cause of tikkun olam (repairing the world) by making annual donations to various organizations.

Classes at the Havurah

Havurat Shalom periodically offers public classes on a wide variety of topics of interest to the community. Please see our calendar of events for a listing of our upcoming classes.

Havurah Membership

Havurat Shalom has two levels of membership, and we're actively looking for people to join at either level.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions we often get asked about the Havurah:

  1. Are you the same Havurat Shalom described in the Jewish Catalogs?

    Yes, that's us (or at least a very young us)!

  2. What movement (reform, reconstructionist, conservative, orthodox) are you affiliated with?

    Havurat Shalom is not affiliated with any of these movements. The Havurah tends to be hard to label.

  3. Who's your rabbi? Who's your cantor? Who leads your services?

    Services at Havurat Shalom are led by Havurah members. We have no clergy leadership positions.

  4. Do people live at the Havurah? Do you have to be a member to live at the Havurah?

    No, no one lives in the Havurah at this time. Both members and non-members have lived at the Havurah.

  5. Who runs the Havurah?

    Havurat Shalom members make decisions about the functioning of the community at monthly business meetings. The decisions made at the meetings are made using a consensus process (vs. other methods such as a 2/3 majority vote, etc.). Consensus decision-making means (at least theoretically) that we have a non-hierarchical power structure: every person's opinion is as important as everyone else's. We have a rotating co-ordinatorship to insure that multiple members lead the group during the course of the calendar year.

  6. Are Havurah retreats open to the public?

    Sorry, but we use retreats for community building among the members.

  7. What should I wear to services?

    We don't have a dress code at the Havurah. You should wear what feels comfortable and respectful to you. At the Havurah you will see people in jeans and you will see people in suits.

  8. Why do the prayers sound different from what I am used to?

    At the Havurah we want our prayers to reflect our values of egalitarianism. Therefore, we use both feminine and masculine language to refer G-d and to people. We also use a wider variety of names for G-d than are found in traditional texts. These are some of the changes found in the egalitarian siddur we've been working on for quite some time. Changes like this can be exciting and often disconcerting at first, but many of us have found that in time they feel natural.

  9. How do I buy High Holiday tickets?

    No need! Our High Holiday services are free and open to all. Please see our Holiday information for more details.

  10. If I want to send a donation to the Hav, where can I send it?

    We gratefully accept donations sent to our mailing address. Havurat Shalom is an IRS 501 (c)(3) charitable organization so your donations may be tax-deductible. You are also welcome to use Paypal or a credit card to send a donation:

    Thanks for your contribution.

last modified: 2016-08-22