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2017 Auerbach Launch Grant

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When Rabbi Shelly Barnathan saw a gap in the Jewish community that needed to be filled, she knew what she had to do. Through conversations over coffee, Rabbi Barnathan wanted to discover the spiritual and community needs of a commonly-overlooked generation within the Jewish community: baby boomers, or empty nesters. In what she described as “holy conversations,” Rabbi Shelly asked questions like ‘What are the pressing questions of deep pertinent meaning for you in this phase of your life?” and “Tell me about your Jewish journey?”

Through these discussions, Rabbi Shelly developed Or Zarua, meaning “light is sown,” a co-constructed community between Barnathan and her participants. Most recently, Or Zarua hosted Shabbat dinners featuring music and storytelling, in which participants brought instruments and a shared interest in “looking for spaces to share their authentic selves,” as Barnathan puts it.

With the $20,000 from the Auerbach Launch Grant, Rabbi Shelly hopes to get the community off the ground in a tangible way, driving a sense of connection between participants and Jewish tradition. You can read more about Or Zarua here and here, and contact Rabbi Shelly at barnshel@gmail.com.

Where can Judaism meet our deepest yearning to make meaning in our lives and to pass that meaning on to future generations? Where is Judaism making meaning for us?

The Reconstructionist Network