Opting In: The Power of Choice

Thank you for choosing Kavana, and for choosing to make this Seattle Jewish community the richly-textured one that it is! Before the month of June is over, we will close out our programming year with so many great options for ways to engage in Jewish community on your own terms. Whether you join us for tomorrow night's Friday night service (the last one of the year, before we move into summer mode in parks!) or Saturday night's inter-community Tikkun Leil Shavuot, or a family education program or a singing circle or a social meet-up, know that we appreciate the fact that you have opted in, forging your own path for "personalized Judaism in a community context."

As we approach the end of our programming year, fiscal year, and academic year here at Kavana, we are brimming with gratitude for this community, and all of its partners and supporters! Over the coming few weeks, we will be saying thank you and celebrating the end of another successful year in a variety of ways.

Today, we want to especially thank the 359 of you who took the time to complete Kavana's survey. We are excited to dig into the data, slicing it in different directions as we mine it for interesting findings about who is in this community and what we value most. But already -- even at a quick glance -- there are key take-aways jumping off the page!

In one (new) question, we asked: "How important or not are the following aspects of Kavana to you?" Of the many options offered, two of the clear winners were "pluralistic attitude to Jewish practice and beliefs" and "multiple entry points to Jewish life" (each of which were deemed "very important" or "important" by a whopping 90% of respondents!).

Pluralism and multiple entry points speak to the CHOICE that Kavana provides, about how people choose to engage with their Jewish identity, community, and tradition. At Kavana, there is no one "right" belief or and no one-size-fits-all approach to Jewish practice; we value our community's diversity, and empower our partners and participants to be the drivers and the decision-makers when it comes to their own Jewish life.

This approach -- which has been a core feature of Kavana since our inception almost 13 years ago -- may feel like a function of our post-modern era, or a laissez-faire Pacific Northwest-y outlook. However, this notion of choice is core to traditional Judaism and is particularly associated with the holiday of Shavuot. Choice manifests in the biblical story of the Israelites standing at Mount Sinai and saying "na'aseh v'nishma" ("we will do and we will hear"... that is, we are actively opting in), and in many midrashim about the relationship between God and the Jewish people. Choice also features prominently in the Book of Ruth (which is also read on this holiday), when Naomi tries to send her daughter-in-law home to Moab, but Ruth clings to her, saying "Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Wherever you go I will go; where you stay I will stay; your people shall be my people and your God my God." In recent years, many people who have converted to Judaism have opted to refer to themselves as "Jews by choice." At Kavana, we recognize that in a sense, ALL members of the 21st century American Jewish community are Jews by choice.

So, thank you for choosing Kavana, and for choosing to make this Seattle Jewish community the richly-textured one that it is! Before the month of June is over, we will close out our programming year with so many great options for ways to engage in Jewish community on your own terms.  Whether you join us for tomorrow night's Friday night service (the last one of the year, before we move into summer mode in parks!) or Saturday night's inter-community Tikkun Leil Shavuot, or a family education program or a singing circle or a social meet-up, know that we appreciate the fact that you have opted in, forging your own path for "personalized Judaism in a community context."