The story of those who share with us the vision of kehilot (communities, in Hebrew) is a story of women and men who live far away from their homeland, at places to which they were led by the circumstances of their lives, and where they established a home and a family.
Driven by a sense of mission and responsibility, they demonstrate remarkable leadership skills, create and innovate, contribute and volunteer, and nurture together their common identity and culture.
It is also a story of longing and belonging, of parenthood and continuity; and, in a way, this is the story of the Jewish people – of those who maintained their Jewish identity through thousands of years of history owing to the existence of KEHILOT.
Engaging secular Jewish communities in the Diaspora
We support and advise local leaders and activists who wish to establish communal frameworks for secular Jews living in their regions, and we assist them in the development and implementation of plans enhancing community resilience. We do that through training workshops and seminars, and by providing personal and professional guidance, using our network of connections and partnerships.
We began our operations in early 2012, and you may visit the website of Kehila in Amsterdam (www.kehila.nl) to get a glimpse of what we have achieved there. These days we work with communities in several cities across Europe, and we are always ready to reach new horizons.
Our operations are carried out by a team of experts with significant experience in the relevant fields, including social entrepreneurship, community leadership, planning and budgeting, education and Hebrew learning, and management of social and cultural programs.
Machon Kehilot is an independent non-profit organization, which is neither funded by public authorities, nor is supported by any political or religious groups. Our activities are made possible with the generous support of our donors and sponsors, who share our vision and see the importance of engaging new Jewish communities in the Diaspora. Our projects and operations have been funded to date by the Pincus Fund for Jewish Education, by JDC and the JDC Europe Community Initiative Fund, by the World Zionist Organization, and by the New York based Hazon organization, in the framework of project Hakhel, which is carried out in cooperation with Israel's Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.
Secular Jewish communities will be formed in many cities around the world
New Jewish communities will be established in many cities around the world, and each of them will provide a framework for social, cultural and educational activities in a secular, pluralistic and democratic spirit.
The new communities will be a place where children and adults alike can learn Jewish traditions and values in their own way, where secular Jewish identity and culture can be developed and cherished, and where a sense of belonging, social connection and mutual support can be found.
The new communities' target audience consists of secular Jews who wish to preserve and nurture their Jewish identity, as well as to transmit such identity to their children; but who are not interested in doing so through the existing local Jewish communities, which they experience as unappealing, irrelevant to their lives, overly focused on religious practices, and excluding non-Jewish partners.
Through these new secular Jewish communities, it would be possible to carry out activities and projects that will promote, among other things, the following objectives:
- Creating Jewish life among those who presently do not belong to any community or organization
- Observance of Jewish customs and life-cycle rituals in a secular, up-to-date and innovative way
- Cultivating a humanistic Jewish identity based on the values of "Tikkun Adam and Tikkun Olam"
- Strengthening the young generation's connection to the Jewish people, to Israel and to Zionism
- Establishment of a supplementary education framework (e.g. a Sunday school)
- Connecting to the world of Jewish values and content through learning and doing
- Supporting members on life-cycle events and creating a viable system of mutual support
- Encouraging Jewish cultural life, in a secular style and inspired by Israeli culture
The Israeli-European Diaspora - a survey about Israelis living in Europe
ejewishphilanthropy.com - A Fresh Look at Israelis in Europe
ejewishphilanthropy.com - Home Away From Home: Amsterdam's Kehila is Educating Children and Connecting Adults
jeducationworld.com - Nurturing elements of Israeli and Jewish Identity among Second Generation Diaspora Israelis
The Pincus Fund - Jewish education for Israelis abroad