Meet Y’Dodim Chavurah (Good Friends)

By Susan Weiner
Let me introduce you to my chavurah – Y’ Dodim. Our chavurah began almost three decades ago. Seven of the 10 couples who now comprise Y’Dodim have been together for 25 of those years! We meet once a month on a Saturday to discuss Jewish topics. This year our focus is on Jewish symbols such as the hamsa and mogen david.

But we also do more than monthly chavurah discussions. We share happy and sad times, including weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, baby and bridal showers, break-the-fasts, passover seders, Chanukah parties, and funerals. We have a yearly Chavurah retreat that has taken us to Las Vegas, Julian, Los Angeles, Mataguay, Borrego Springs, and many other places.

Y’Dodim has seen our children grow up and get married and some of us are even grandparents. Whatever we have become over the many years we can certainly say that Y’Dodim Chavurah has made a group of strangers into a family.

Before there was Facebook, there was a Chavurah

By Randy Savarese
No doubt about it…social networking is front and center in today’s world and, across the generations, many of us are happily using Facebook and Twitter as part of our daily routine. But, social networking began long before we had computers and mobile phones.

We are so fortunate at Beth Israel to have one of the oldest and most successful social networking tools available to us in the form of our chavurah program. The word “chavurah” comes from the Hebrew “chaver” meaning friendship or fellowship. Chavurah members often become more like extended family as they share experiences and create memories with fellow congregants who gather to share Jewish life.

Ten years ago, I moved to La Jolla and joined Beth Israel as part of a new chapter in my life. I knew that a sense of belonging to a small group would provide me with a more intimate connection to my new synagogue, allow me to engage with others in a meaningful way, and aid in the transition to my new surroundings. I filled out a Chavurah application and was fortunate enough to be placed fairly quickly (it can take time for the right match to be made). Belonging to a chavurah did everything I had hoped and so much more—the wonderful experiences and lasting friendships that have developed over these past ten years are truly priceless.

If you are currently not a member of a chavurah, I encourage you to consider applying online. The chavurah experience is a powerful and positive way to enhance your affiliation with Beth Israel on a very personal level.

Shabbat Chavurah

One Saturday every month members of the “Shabbat Chavurah” gather together to eat, learn, and share friendships that span a decade and beyond.

“Shabbat Chavurah” is in quotation marks because the name is unofficial. If you ask members what we call ourselves or when we became a chavurah, the answers are imprecise. What is certain is that each gathering brings together a thoughtful group that loves good conversation and learning about all things Jewish. Whether it is a discussion of Israeli politics, or an exploration of Jewish responses to life’s most fundamental struggles, our group shares opinions that cover a wide spectrum. Wediscuss, debate, joke, laugh and at times cry together. Mostly, though, we enjoy each other’s company and usually leave a bit wiser than when we arrived.

Especially endearing for our group are celebrations we share for simchas and the support we provide for each other at times of sorrow. We have been there for each other for B’nai Mitzvah, family weddings, birthdays, and to remember loved ones who have died. We have a second family embodied by our brothers and sisters of the Shabbat Chavurah.

As with any family we sometimes disagree as we discuss and debate politics and religion. In the end, though, we leave enriched because of the shared learning and mutual respect that mark these spirited exchanges. Our extended chavurah family is a delightfully special extension of our larger Beth Israel community, special friendships for which we are grateful.

by Irv Kass