Q: What is Masa Seattle?
A: In the 1960's, many Jews were looking to create intimate communities that were less formal and more spiritual. This is when the "chavurah movement" was born. The word "chaver" means "friend" in Hebrew, so these "chavurot"(plural of chavurah) were a kind of "Jewish friendship circle." Classic chavurot are volunteer-led and neighborhood based. Jewish participants gather in peoples' homes for learning, holiday celebrations, Shabbat dinners, prayer and social gatherings. We like to think of Masa Seattle as "Chavurah 2.0": a chavurah for the 21st century. Just like the chavurot of the 1960's, we meet in different neighborhoods all around the Puget Sound, in peoples' homes, coffee shops, breweries, parks, etc., but also online. Our intimate gatherings are informal and steeped in Jewish spirituality and tradition. Unlike classic chavurot, we have an organizational structure, financial resources from members and donors, and rabbinic leadership. While we "journey" around the sound for smaller Shabbat experiences and learning opportunities, we come together as a larger community throughout the year for Jewish holidays and immersive learning.
Q: Is Masa Seattle a Synagogue?
A: Not exactly. Masa Seattle is a community of people, led by a rabbi, who are committed to building Jewish life in a creative, outside-the-box way that addresses the "new normal" we find ourselves in today. It is less about place and more about people. We gather in person, but also online, in casual, low-barrier settings, where people who come from all walks of life can connect to something deeper--be that God, our Torah and sacred traditions, or our community.
Q: Are you Jews for Jesus?
A: NO! We are Jews for Judaism. Full stop.
Q: Is Masa Seattle Reform, Conservative or Orthodox?
A: None of the above. We believe that Judaism and Jewish living cannot be categorized. Everyone's Jewish Journey is unique and we embrace that uniqueness as integral to the beautiful and diverse fabric of our community.
Q: Does Masa Seattle have members?
A: Yes, we have members who are committed to not only supporting the community financially, but also willing to volunteer their time and talents to this collaborative re-vitalization of Jewish life. We are very serious about those who are on this journey with us and we require all members to enter into a brit, or covenant, that guides our behavior towards one another. We accept anyone, regardless of gender, age, lifestyle, sexual orientation or viewpoint, but like the title of the bestselling book by Robert Sutton, we have a very strict "No Asshole Rule."
Q: Why should I join Masa Seattle?
A: If you love being and/or doing Jewish, but haven't found a community that inspires you, challenges you, embraces you, or empowers you, then Masa Seattle is ready to journey with you. As a member of our new Jewish community, you can be on the ground floor to co-create the next iteration of Jewish living.
Q: Where can I find a Masa Seattle Event?
A: We have local events all around the Puget Sound. We also offer online classes and gatherings on a weekly basis. Throughout the year, we have immersive travel opportunities in Washington State and across the globe. Regardless of where you live, Masa Seattle has something for you. For a full schedule and to register for an event and receive location details or login info, see our CALENDAR.
Q: What if I don't live in Seattle?
A: We have weekly online content that is both live and recorded and can be accessed anywhere. If you don't live in the Puget Sound, we encourage you to attend online classes or gatherings and then build personal connections with other attendees through one of our immersive travel experiences.
Q: Does Masa Seattle have a building?
A: No, and that's the way we like it! By not having a physical brick and mortar location, we can be more flexible with where we offer programs and celebrations. Gone are the days when Jews lived together in one single neighborhood. We are different from most synagogues by acknowledging that religious institutions can feel foreign and intimidating for some. We love to meet and bring sacredness into non-traditional spaces, like coffee shops, parks, community centers, beaches...you know, the places where you like to spend your free time. Also, by focusing on people and programming, rather than property, we can operate without the additional expenses that drain most religious communities and their members of valuable financial resources. Masa Seattle will never ask you to contribute to a building fund. Now that's a bonus!
Q: What can I expect when I come to an event or log on for a virtual gathering or class?
A: Friendly people who are excited about being and/or doing Jewish with you. You can expect a friendly face to greet you, our rabbi to take time to get to know you, and natural ways to interact with others. If you come alone, our goal is to ensure that you leave with at least one new friend.