113 College Avenue
Somerville MA 02144
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.
HistoryFounded in 1968, Havurat Shalom is an egalitarian Jewish community committed to creative, inclusive, spiritual Judaism, welcoming all people. The members of the community do not identify with one particular sect of Judaism. As the havurah operates without a rabbi, all services are created and led by members of the community, encouraging a deep level of involvement and commitment from congregants.
DescriptionHavurat Shalom has occupied the same three-story frame house between Davis Square and Powderhouse Circle since 1969, just a year after the group’s inception. The first floor, where the kitchen, dining room, and large common rooms are located, is wheelchair accessible. The house serves as the meeting space for the community and is home to some members of the community.
LeadershipThe havurah is run through specialized committees as well as community-wide meetings. All members are welcome at the monthly business meetings but are not required to attend. Decisions are made by a consensus of those who attend the meeting. Above all, the havurah strives to maintain a non-hierarchical structure, where all members have equal input.
Activities and ScheduleOn the first Saturday of each month the havurah holds a morning service and a dairy potluck brunch. Two Fridays later, an informal, vegetarian potluck dinner is held. Newcomers are always welcome. There is also a children’s shabbat service held on the first Saturday of every month, except during the summer. In addition to weekly prayer, the community hosts services for all holidays during the year. High Holiday services are open and free to the public, and do not require tickets. The havurah holds children’s services for the High Holidays. There are three retreats each year, two that are away retreats and one that takes place at the havurah. The Friday and Saturday of retreat weekends are the only time during the year that the havurah does not hold open shabbat services. All members, both past and present, are welcome on the retreats but are not required to attend. The retreats are a time for socializing, Jewish study, and community building.
PrayerbookHavurat Shalom has developed its own shabbat siddur, or prayerbook. Their prayerbook, entitled Siddur Birkat Shalom, seeks to rework traditional Jewish prayers. This siddur uses egalitarian language, most obviously evidenced by the usage of both male and female pronouns when referring to God. Original research, which has been used in part, was conducted by Jayme Herschkopf.
Date Center Founded
30 active members, with up to 150-200 attending High Holiday services