Yoni Levinger, Torah on Tap leader
Community is a feeling. It is the sense that you belong to something. It is the sense that you belong to something bigger than yourself.
The Jewish Federation is looking critically into how we intentionally work with partner organizations and leaders to create more opportunities for “community.”
Through Federation’s NextGen Initiative, one of the ways we are creating community is by asking young professionals to show us the Jewish community they want to see. We ask them what they are passionate about, and if they would be interested in meeting others with similar passions. The one catch – they have to lead it.
We are calling this platform “ThirdSpace” – a space outside of home and work where you feel welcome and a sense of belonging. The concept is that by creating this affinity-based group people will create deeper connections due to similar interests and heritage. Federation is currently piloting this concept through a couple of “spaces.”
Torah on Tap, led by Yoni Levinger, meets up to six times a year to socialize and to take a deep dive into Jewish text. The events typically feature a “rabbi and beer” pairing. If you haven’t been to a Torah on Tap, the atmosphere could best be compared to walking into an episode of Cheers. As you enter the room, you instantly feel welcomed as a part of the group. Yoni has created an opportunity for young professionals to both socialize and dive into intellectual conversations about lessons from the Torah.
At Torah on Tap, Yoni invited the new rabbi from Tifereth Israel, Rabbi Josh Dorsch, to lead a conversation about “Jews and Brews: Beer, What is it Good For?” Participants not only got a chance to meet and hear from Rabbi Dorsch, but also had the unique opportunity to share their various interpretations of Jewish tradition around beer. If you would like to learn more, check out Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 107a, Shulchan Aroch, Oraach Chayim, 272:9, Mishnah Brurah 272:30 and Yoreh Deah 1:15.
The best part of building community is creating a platform for people to express and share their passions with others. While some may wish to start a cooking group, book club, or hiking group, Yoni has created a new community driven by his passion for Jewish learning. Over the next year, we plan to launch several other Thirdspace groups, and we look forward to hearing from more young professionals.
Got a great idea for Thirdspace? We want to hear about it! CLICK HERE to get in touch and learn more.
Darren Schwartz, Chief Program Officer