Blog Post by Ruth Schachter
Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks, falls this year on May 14-16. One of the three pilgrimage festivals in Judaism (the other two being Sukkot and Passover), it is associated with an ancient grain harvest and the bringing of offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem. The holiday also commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, the beginnings of the covenant between God and the Jewish people.
One custom associated with the holiday is the Tikkun Leil Shavuot, or all night study session. It originated among the Jewish mystics of the sixteenth century and has developed into a time of Jewish study, discussion, and reflection. When I lived in Jerusalem, there was a palpable excitement that surrounded Tikkun Leil Shavuot. At any hour of the night people - dressed in white - were walking the streets, heading to the next class on their schedule and, more often than not, going to the Old City in time for sunrise. I had classmates who created excel spreadsheets so they wouldn’t forget particular teachers’ or organizations’ sessions. A little bit nerdy? Perhaps, but some of my best memories of my time in Israel are of sitting out on my balcony, looking out on a darkened Jerusalem while eating cheesecake with friends and preparing ourselves for a holiday “night on the town.”
Shavuot is a time to ask questions and to explore ideas of Jewish religion, history, and identity. Rabbi and Professor David Hartman taught that the covenant between God and the Jewish people can be a truly empowering experience. The Jewish people were given tools to create an ordered world, to behave morally, and to question life around them. Shavuot is not a passive holiday; rather it is one where we can explore ideas and what it means to be Jewish in today’s world.
As 21st century young adults our identities are complicated and influenced by many sources. Everyone is invited to Next Dor (5062 Waterman) on May 14 at 6pm for a Shavuot dinner and discussion. We will have our own program and will then join various community celebrations. All are welcome regardless of background, belief, or practice.
Hope everyone has a happy and meaningful Shavuot!!!!
Blog Post by Rachel Lippmann
The idea of wandering is an oft-repeated theme in Judaism. After all, the ancient
Israelites were told that as they entered the Promised Land, they were to declare to G-
d, “My father was a wandering Aramean …” (Deut. 26:5). And late next month, Jews
around the world will begin the celebration of Sukkot.
Central to the holiday is the building of and dwelling in the sukkah – the temporary
structure meant to represent the huts that housed us in our 40-year wanderings in the
desert. “By deliberately giving up solid construction,” writes Rabbi Irving Greenberg
in his chapter on Sukkot in The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays, “Jews admit their
vulnerability and testify that the ultimate trust is in the divine shelter.”
We know it was difficult for the ancient Israelites to maintain their faith in G-d through
long years in the desert, and the Torah is filled with stories of those who lost that faith.
Think about, then, how hard it must be in modern times to live the life of that “wandering
Aramean,” with no permanent shelter, and when the protection of some divine being
seems so remote. That’s what children and families who use the services at Gateway 180
– the largest shelter for homeless families in Missouri – face every day.
For the past six months, Next Dor STL, through the Karen Solomon Young Adult Service
Initiative, has provided Gateway 180 with hundreds of hours of volunteer support –
everything from painting, cooking meals, sorting cans, playing with the children. But
time, while valuable, can only go so far. In order to fulfill its core mission of reversing
homelessness, G180 needs money.
And that’s where the Jewish community comes in. Gateway 180 is sponsoring its first-
ever “Reverse Walk to Reverse Homelessness.” The idea, according to Jenn Lyke,
the development director at G180, grew out of ideas to break the world record for the
number of people walking backward at the same time. We’ll be walking the right way -
it’s a first-time event, after all – but it will still provide important funding for the shelter
and its services.
Next Dor STL will have a team (https://gateway180.myetap.org/fundraiser/
at the walk, which
is Saturday, September 8, 2012. All of the details and registration are here (https://
, but these are the highlights. For a $50 donation, you get:
• A chance to walk on the field at Busch Stadium before the 6:15 game against the
• A ticket to the game
• A “Reverse Walk” t-shirt
Unable to make the walk but still interested in helping out? Part of your
will allow a child from the shelter to attend the
game – an experience many of them have probably never had.
And as if leading into 5773 by doing a mitzvah wasn’t enough:
• Everyone who registers with the Next Dor team will get a cookie from Grandma’s
Cookies in St. Charles.
• The person who raises/donates the most for the team will get a dozen Grandma’s
• The person who pushes us over our $500 minimum will get a loaf of homemade
banana bread (or a kosher baked treat of your choice).
Email Rachel at email@example.com
or Ruth at firstname.lastname@example.org
or clink on the links above.
There have been constant messages in the media saying that the Millennial generation (those of us born between 1980 and the early to late 1990s) care little about our community, and that we are more likely to spend time in front of a computer than interacting with our peers. In fact, these are both wrong statements. Among Jewish young adults, volunteerism and social interactions are strongly linked.
In June 2011, Repair the World published the results of the study conducted by the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University and Gerstein-Agne Strategic Communications. The report, titled “Volunteering +Values: A Repair the World Report of Jewish Young Adults,” was commissioned by Repair the World to learn more about volunteer service among young Jewish adults in the United States.
The study found that a majority of the nearly 1000 respondents had reported volunteer involvement in the 12 months prior to the study. Nearly 40% of these respondents volunteered on an irregular basis of less than once a month. 52% of respondents reported that in a typical week, they do not spend time volunteering. Even so, 29% of the respondents volunteer at least once a month, and 10% volunteer at least once a week. While Jewish young adults may not physically be out in their communities volunteering on a regular basis, most Jewish young adults are involved in “low-threshold activism,” which includes signing petitions, donating money, and buying goods that align with their political and social values. Being involved in our communities at times that are agreeable with our increasingly busy schedules is important, and it is more likely for Jewish young adults to be involved when the level of energy to be engaged is minimal and the activities can be easily incorporated into their regular schedule.
Because Jewish young adults are busy with jobs, social events, professional development, and families, the study reported that we prefer small local change in which we are able to see the results of our work through consistent low-threshold volunteering opportunities. Recurring events requiring just a small time commitment make it easy for young adults to fit volunteering into their busy schedules by offering a wide variety of activities at varying times. One hour of service for a few times a month at a easily accessible site is most appealing to Jewish young adults.
Importantly, projects that give Jewish young adults time to socialize with their peers while doing social justice are the most likely to recruit Jewish young adults. The research shows that those Jewish young adults who are not self-motivated to volunteer individually are most likely to get involved when their friends or families encourage them.
Luckily, Next Dor STL, in collaboration with JCRC and the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, will being offering easy-to-join volunteer opportunities specifically for Jewish young adults in St. Louis. The projects will be hosted at Gateway 180: Homelessness Reversed, a St. Louis homeless shelter. For more information, or to get involved, contact us at email@example.com
The following is adapted from an article entitled, "Cincinnati Native Uses Social Entrepreneurship to Create a Community"
by Elana Itzkowitz, Special to The Bimah
Jerusalem, Israel – As cyber-activism and Facebook revolutions sweep the Middle East, Jewish social and business entrepreneurs, technology whizzes, thinkers and artists from Hong Kong to Zagreb, Sao Paulo to San Francisco, and Melbourne to Beersheva, converged on Jerusalem for the ROI Global Summit of Young Jewish Innovators, to connect and create new tools and novel approaches to shape the Jewish world and beyond.
ROI Community is an international network of 600 social entrepreneurs and Jewish innovators in 40 countries on six continents who are creating innovative ways to connect to Jewish life. At the heart of the program is peer-to-peer training and collaborative project-building led by ROI’s network of members from around the world.
“The ROI Summit was very impressive,” said Next Dor St. Louis Program Director and ROI participant Yoni Sarason. “You see face-to-face people who are dealing with the same issues in their own communities. It is a great opportunity to learn from their experience. These partnerships are crucial and help make the pieces of the Jewish community puzzle fit together.”
Sarason was one of 150 ROIers at the summit this year. Sarason has been in St. Louis since 2003, when he began college at Washington University.
Since graduating from Wash U, Sarason founded the St. Louis Moishe House, HipHopInspires.us
and Next Dor STL. Sarason blogs extensively, running his own blog called TheStLouJew.com, and has spoken to small and large groups on Israel, the Middle East conflict, Jewish young adults in the USA, Judaism, social media and social entrepreneurship.
His most recent project, Next Dor, is a vibrant center of activity that builds community for young Jewish adults in St. Louis City, Missouri. “The concept behind Next Dor is creating a platform for community-building for young Jews,” says Sarason. “Next Dor functions as kind of a hospitality committee to young Jews moving to St. Louis. We get emails from people moving to St. Louis asking for help finding housing as well as connecting them to their peers.”
Next Dor engages young Jewish adults by providing coordination, networking and marketing support for individuals, groups and organizations who wish to connect to other young adults. Next Dor uses a space donated by Central Reform Congregation to host events that leverage the interests and talents of community members to provide engaging and diversified programs that often cost little or nothing to execute.
In the year since its inception, Next Dor has quickly grown to be one of the most dynamic organizations for young adults in St. Louis. More than 2000 visits have been made to Next Dor, connecting over 350 young adults. Sarason explains that “Next Dor enriches local Jewish experiences. For example, we sponsored a Tu Bishvat seder and connected with people who had no idea such tradition existed. We also hosted the first-ever Mimouna celebration in St. Louis. Additionally, we host visiting Israeli artists, activists and leverage each skill within our community and produce talent shows and the like.”
Sarason expressed how important attending summits like the ROI Young Innovators Summit is for social entrepreneurs like himself. “Next Dor by its nature is connected to innovative initiatives and fits naturally within the ROI Community. I see a lot of room for collaboration. For example, I’d like to screen in St. Louis fellow-ROIer Evan Kleinman’s Punk Jews documentary to expose alternative ways to connect Jewishly.”
What Sarason took away from his participation in ROI is a sense of social empowerment and inspiration. “The greatest challenge of social entrepreneurship” he explained, “is that if the idea is a good enough one to make money, why make it social/non-profit, and if it is important enough work, how to you find a way to generate enough revenue to support yourself.”
By providing a forum for young social entrepreneurs to come together and exchange ideas, ROI effectively “creates the social fabric in which there is no longer a dilemma” says Sarason. “ROI creates a community which socializes and normalizes the idea of being a part of something bigger, something that is worth putting aside immediate monetary concerns and stresses the importance of the greater cause.”
ROI Community not only provides networking opportunities for young Jewish innovators, but it also provides inspiration to continue their cause. Sarason explained that “knowing that I am now connected to a network of 600 young innovative, interesting, and creative individuals is truly powerful and helps me to push the boundaries of the community development work in which I have been engaged.”
ROI Community has played a key role in seeding and supporting other cutting-edge Jewish start-ups, including Moishe House, G-dcast, Jewcology, Omanoot.com, and Haggadot.com. ROI also offers an expansive Micro Grants program to help ROI members turn ideas into actual meaningful projects.
“These young Jewish social entrepreneurs are transforming the Jewish world through their vital initiatives and commitment to tikkun olam, repairing the world,” said Lynn Schusterman, the American Jewish philanthropist who, in 2005, created ROI Community as a partnership with Taglit-Birthright Israel. “As change agents within their own communities, in Israel and beyond, these 20- and 30-somethings are key to ensuring the vibrancy of Jewish life 3,000 years down the road.”
“ROI Community creates a space where connection and innovation happens,” said Justin Korda, ROI Community Executive Director. “Our ultimate goal is to link up dynamic, creative young Jews, enabling them to translate their ideas into initiatives that bring the joy of Jewish life to Jews around the world and impact the world around them. Ultimately, we envision a thousand-strong network of innovators engaging a million people in diverse forms of Jewish life.”
We are excited to welcome Eli Temkin to Next Dor as the new Program Manager. Eli has worked with St. Louis Hillel at Wash U, the Jewish Federation, and led a Birthright trip with Mayanot. He was in AEPi at Wash U, and studied Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology. Eli spent a year in Israel for Young Judaea's Year Course, and learned to curse fluently in Hebrew. He has followed Phish and some lesser known jam bands and is always down for a show or music festival. Upcoming Events
Friday, June 3rd: Pot-luck Dinner and Art Opening Bike Ride
with Next Dor - Bring a dish, and your bike and join us to a tour of some of St. Louis' best new art gallery openings. Everything is free, and if you don't feel like biking, you can meet us there. Check out the FB event for more info.
Sunday, June 5th: Community Gardening at Next Dor
- Stop by the house between 11:30 am and 2 pm and get your hands dirty. Or just run through our sprinkler. If you're lucky, you may even find some potluck leftovers.
Monday, June 6th: Torah on Tap with Rabbi Hyim Shafner: "Shavuot: Finding Water in the Desert"
-Rabbi Shafner will be back in the building to lead a discussion as only he can. Join us for hot knowledge and cold beer! Starts at 8 pm.
Tuesday, June 7th: Shavuot at Twilight Tuesday with Moishe House
- Join us in front of the History Museum at 6 pm where we will have a discussion group about Shavuot and different ways we can observe followed by a concert at 6:30.
Tuesday, June 7th: Shavuot Night of Torah Study
- It is traditional to stay up all night learning Torah the night of Shavuot. This year on Tuesday, June 7 at Bais Abe, members of the St. Louis Jewish community will join together in Torah study late into the night. A variety of classes by inspiring rabbis and teachers will be held from 11:00 p.m.- 2:00 a.m. Cheesecake and coffee will be served throughout the night.
Friday, June 10th: Funny T-Shirt Shabbat at Moishe House
- Throw on your most humorous t-shirt, bring drinks, desserts, or appetizers and come on over to Moishe House STL for an entertaining Shabbat dinner! Starts at 7:30.
Friday, June 17th: Third Fridays at Next Dor - You know the drill. Good food, good people. Come to the Next Dor house to celebrate Shabbat! More details to come...
Thursday, June 23rd: Thirsty Thursdays with Young Professionals Division at McGurk's
- Thirsty Thursdays are back for the summer! Please join YPD May-August as we travel around the world, and around St. Louis, to visit the trendiest happy hour spots and mingle with new and old friends. Free!
Wednesday, June 29th: Jazz at the Botanical Gardens with Moishe House - Moishe House is getting a group together to get outside and enjoy some Jazz. Starts at 7:30.
Now that summer has finally arrived, St. Louis is full of activities
(many free)--Twilight Tuesdays at the History Museum, Jazz at the Botanical Gardens on Wednesdays, etc. If you're ever looking for people to go with, post on our Facebook wall
Now that Eli's moved in, he'll be hanging around the Next Dor House quite a bit. Feel free to drop in for a while, say hi and get to know him! Mondays and Tuesdays during the summer Eli will plan to be at the house from 6 pm until 9 pm. Other than that, just give a call (314-632-6398
)--he should be around.
Got Passover Plans?
Passover starts Monday night, April 18th, do you need a place for Seder? Chabad is hosting young adult seders
both nights, Rabbi Shafner of Bais Abe is opening up his house
, and Central Reform is placing young adults with families
.. For some light reading, check out NEXT Dor's idea for a '5th Question
' on Birthright NEXT's webzine, Alef.
The Main Event(s)
Thursday, April 14 - Next Dor's Organic Garden kicks off and you can help. From 4 PM until it gets dark, help dig, plant, and make the garden bloom. If you have access to spades, wheelbarrows, or tillers, let Next Dor know: firstname.lastname@example.org
or RSVP here
Thursday, April 14 Young Adults at Bais Abe (YABA) in conjunction with Next Dor St. Louis and JGrads St. Louis presents the 2nd Annual Pre-Passover Wine Tasting
(back by popular demand)! FEATURING *A choice variety of kosher for Passover wines for your tasting pleasure *An assortment of cheeses and fruits to cleanse the palate (and because... we like cheese and fruit) 7:00pm - 10:00pm at Bais Abe 6910 Delmar Boulevard Saint Louis, MO
Saturday, April 16 · Moishe House is hosting a Shabbat Brunch
. Begin your Saturday the best way possible...with Moishe House STL for Shabbat brunch. Appetizers, drinks, and desserts are always welcome! 11:00am - 2:00pm at 915 Concordia Ln Clayton, MO
Sunday, April 24th, Moishe House is hosting a Rock-a-Thon to raise money alongside Mizzou's AEPi for charity. 1:00PM at 915 Concordia
Wednesday April 27th - YPD hosts Benyamin Cohen, the Atlanta-born son of an Orthodox rabbi, traveled around the Bible belt visiting various places of worship to find out why Christians seem so excited about Christianity. He wrote this humorous yet sincere account of how this transformative experience impacted his own spirituality and Jewish identity. 7 PM at Fallon's Bar and Grill in Olivette. Contact Lee’at Bachar at email@example.com
to RSVP or with questions.
Purim, a holiday which is often summed up as, "they tried to kill us, we survived, let's drink", combines a great story, fun rituals for enjoying said story, and encouragement to imbibe. . . What's not to love?
And Next Dor is helping you to get into the Purim holiday spirit with events both nights this weekend. On Friday night, we are teaming up with Bais Abe, a local Modern Orthodox Shul, to bring you Samosas and Hamantashen: A Pre-Purim Indian Shabbat, which is a chance to experience a musical Kabbalat Shabbat (Friday evening service) followed by an excellent (and kosher) meal from Gokul, a new Indian restaurant. Rabbi Hyim Shafner is former Chief Rabbi of India and will be doling out wisdom (as well as samosas). Check out more info here
and RSVP here
On Saturday night, the 2nd annual Pour-em Party Shul Crawl will give you an excuse to go to a temple (or 4). We'll have a bus ready to transport us to various synagogues to sample how each one parties on Purim. Details are here
, so pick a costume and join us!
The Jewish Light recently published an article about the different organizations in St. Louis' young adult scene. In discussing some of the challenges facing young adults, Moishe House CEO David Cygielman is quoted:
The need, he said, is growing as young Jews wait longer and longer to settle down, get married and have children.
"I think it's getting better but it depends on what perspective you are coming from," he said. "If you are sitting in a long-standing institution like a Federation or synagogue, it can still be a serious challenge. The question still is, ‘Where is the place for people who don't have their roots yet in that community?'"
Nor is it just one community that's at issue. The average young Jewish professional coming out of college is a part of the most mobile generation in history and is likely to have seven different jobs over the course of his or her life, Cygielman said. That means networking - on a national scale - is becoming vital.
"You might live in D.C. one day but you could be living in St. Louis or San Francisco the next," he said. "That's not a scary thing. That's OK."
The article touches on the work of Moishe House, Chabad, and dedicates quite a bit of space to Next Dor.
To read the full piece, click here
Thursday night, February 3rd, a diverse group of young adults came together at Next Dor for a 'Kabbalah poetry reading'. The readings, which were performed by Jaffa Aharonov, Sarah Barasch, Julia Gordon-Bramer, and Sarah Bernstein, ran the gamut from apocalyptic short stories to poems filled with biblical allusion.
Sarah Barasch, a native of St. Louis who has been 'reading and writing since preschool' said, " I think St. Louis can be a good environment for artists because people here are good at sharing. I mostly write poetry on personal themes, even if not about my personal life, then the personal lives of others. Some call this the confessional style. It is important to me that poetry sound good read out loud. I am influenced by the delta blues, hip hop, feminism, the Talmud, W.H. Auden and Cubism.
Nicky Rainey, a poet, and the event's organizer commented , "For me, hearing the writing of brilliant women aloud is powerful." She explained that, "poetry is an avenue to explore topics that are not always easy to talk about in a community setting."
Next Dor was created, in part, to provide a haven for artists and to help develop a Jewish cultural and arts scene for young adults in St. Louis. With events like these, that reality is one step closer.
In honor of Tu B'shvat, the new year for trees, Next Dor played host to a seder, combining elements of traditional Lurianic Tu B'shvat seders and more recent ecologically focused practices.
The event, which brought together 20 young adults, featured Jewish melodies and improvisations provided by Will Soll and Shlomo Ovadya, as well as many of the traditional 'Seven Species of Israel', including date, olive (oil), wheat (bread), and grapes.
The seder focused on the four levels of creation, symbolized by four cups of wine, and types of fruit. The text itself was compiled by Molly Zeff for Next Dor, and contains quotes from poets, sages, Rabbis, and philosophers, centered around the idea of the beauty of nature as the physical representation of the divine.
Additionally, as part of the work of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, participants helped Next Dor to purchase over 120 cans in support of the Jewish Food Pantry, operated by Jewish Family and Children's Services.