In Havruta: Lessons in Learning, Shabbat, and Partnership
By Sarit Wishnevski and Allie Conn Kanter
It’s Wednesday. Are you thinking about the weekend yet? Project Zug and OneTable hope you are, and are introducing a new course to help you and your havruta, get there. Havruta, from the Hebrew word haver or “friend,” is an ancient methodology for learning Jewish text in which the text becomes a part of the learner, rather than the subject of the learning. Havruta is a process: pulling ideas apart, absorbing words, digesting meaning. Through this process, the two individuals gain a deeper understanding of the text by hearing another perspective, a common theme in creating organizational partnerships.
The story of this particular havruta, between Project Zug and OneTable, is a reflection on partnership and creation. Project Zug is an online havruta learning platform powered by Hadar that seeks to connect Jews globally through one-on-one high quality, self-guided learning. OneTable empowers young adults in their 20s and 30s to end their week with intention, and build an authentic and sustainable Shabbat dinner practice.
Over the past five years, Project Zug has created over 30 courses ranging widely in topic and subject, from traditional Jewish learning to the lyrics of Bob Dylan. As the breadth of courses has grown, so has its appeal to many different Jewish individuals and communities. Project Zug is always seeking to expand its reach, and sees OneTable as an incredible resource to access a network of people who are looking to add meaning to their busy lives.
Since launching in 2014, OneTable has seen tremendous growth. After spending the first few years building a thriving Shabbat dinner movement and creating the technology to sustain it, OneTable now has the opportunity to turn its attention towards enhancing educational resources. After seeing success and great interest in OneTable’s Shabbat Dinner Guide, OneTable and Project Zug have launched a 4-part course called “The Oldest New Way To Friday,” a text-based deep dive into weekly Shabbat dinner rituals, where they come from, and how we can create innovative practices to claim them as our own.
“Our pedagogic goal at OneTable is for Shabbat dinner to become an invitation, not only to a delicious meal, but to an opportunity to try on Jewish ritual, to make Jewish practice your own,” says Rabbi Jessica Minnen, OneTable’s Resident Rabbi and Director of Program. “Co-creating this course gave us an opportunity to marry our commitment to innovation with Project Zug’s commitment to text study, resulting in a course that gives potential hosts and guests the background they need to elevate ritual practices at their own Shabbat dinner tables.”
Jeremy Tabick, Content Manager for Project Zug, worked closely with Rabbi Minnen on the course creation, and expressed that “OneTable has a clear vision of what they wanted the havrutot to learn, and they offer a unique perspective on what it means to make Shabbat accessible to as many Jews as possible. Together we enjoyed translating OneTable’s vision into a format where the guiding questions and sources lead the havruta to the kinds of conversation that Rabbi Jess was hoping they would have.”
Our work in organizational havruta has created a product which is self-paced and self-guided. Each havruta pair who engages with it will build their own learnings from their discussions, which neither Project Zug or OneTable will be there to facilitate or direct. For some this means reinvigorating a weekly Shabbat practice and for others it’s a chance to learn about the beauty and meaning behind Friday night rituals. And for all learners, it can be a chance to learn about a new organization with an abundance of community and learning opportunities.
Together we have created a unique presentation of deeply rooted Jewish texts that are meant to inspire and teach. To learn more go to www.projectzug.org and check out “Shabbat Rituals: The Oldest New Way To Friday.”
Sarit Wishnevski is the Associate Director of Community Partnerships at OneTable.
Allie Conn Kanter is the Associate Director of Community Learning at Project Zug and Hadar.