This past weekend, at Synagogue 3000's conference in Tenafly, NJ, four representatives of Next Dor STL presented, informed, and educated about the project's background, methods, and impact.
The conference itself presented research by Steven Cohen, who demonstrated by way of a participant survey, the efficacy of each Next Dor site to create relationships that led to increased participation, identification, and integration into the Jewish community.
The four St. Louis representatives, Aliza Haber, Ariel Lyons-Warren, David Elias, and Yoni Sarason, were exposed to some of the top Rabbis, professionals, researchers, and consultants in the Jewish communal world. But the group weren't merely passive participants.
All four used the opportunity to explain the impact of the project on St. Louis, both at the grassroots and structural level. These explanations took the form both of formal presentations, as well as open space discussions (of both the project itself and some potential outgrowths).
The Synagogue 3000 conference provided an uncommon opportunity for young adults in the community to represent themselves and their efforts on the national scene, and helped put St. Louis on the map to a group that often glosses over the Midwest.
On Thursday August 19th, a group of young adults spanning Jewish, Muslim (Shia and Sunni), Mormon, and Christ Scientist faiths gathered at Next Dor for a night of conversation and dialogue.
The event, planned by the Anti-Defamation League, in conjunction with the Interfaith Partnership and Faith Beyond Walls, took the form of 'Speed Dating' in which the young adults spent a few minutes getting to know someone of a different faith before moving to someone else. During each conversation, the young adults were asked to describe how they perceive and practice their faith.
"It is always wonderful being around people who want to learn, and who are willing to step out of their comfort zone in order to do it," explained Karen Aroesty, Regional Director for the ADL. "Last Thursday, it was even more wonderful that so many different questions were raised, and answered, in such a positive, relaxed setting. It was a very good place to be."
"The Interfaith event at Next Dor was the perfect forum to not only share the differences in our faith, but to more importantly recognize our commonalities," said Hammad Haider, one of the participants. "I truly felt welcomed, like I was a part of a loving Interfaith family."
Next Dor kicked off what promises to be an exciting summer with a huge week of activities - all at the Next Dor STL house in the Central West End! Things kicked off with a 4th of July BBQ, organized by Jacob Albert and David Elias that attracted about 50 Jewish young adults. David grilled up some delicious burgers and hot dogs while guests brought side dishes, pot luck style. Many of those in attendance were new to Next Dor and the BBQ proved a great way for them to connect peers in the Jewish community.
The week continued with yoga classes on Tuesday, July 6th at 8 and Wednesday, July 7th at 6:45. The yoga classes consisted of flowing movements and breath designed to bring strength, relaxation and joy. Attracting between 5 and 15 young adults, these free sessions do not require an RSVP and are a great way to do something for your health and wellbeing in a comfortable environment.
On Thursday, July 8th a classic Kabbalah meditation at the Next Dor STL house , which included a discussion of classic kabbalah meditations and concepts from Sefer Yetzirah, Zohar, Chassidic Masters and the works of the Arizal. The intimate group was guided through classical Jewish meditations that give Jewish mystical and spiritual experiences. These classical Jewish meditation practices can be taken home and practiced by participants on a regular basis to infinitely enhance their Jewish spiritual life.
Moving from mysticism to music, on Sunday, July 11th, Next Dor STL held a guitar lesson/jam session that gave a free guitar lesson to any Jewish young adults with a guitar and a desire to learn. Participants were broken up into 2 groups, led by Joel Miller and Jeremy Lieb. Thanks to the great turnout, a follow up lesson will be planned for later in the summer.
Upcoming, check out yoga classes on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Ladies Night In on Thursday. Check out Next Dor STL on facebook and the website for information on upcoming events. Next Dor is powered by you, so if you have any ideas for events and programs at the house, email us at Info [at] nextdorstl.org. Even when there aren't specific events, Next Dor is open for you to hang out and meet people. Just contact us and let us know when you want to drop by.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:Kimmi LevinsonNext Dor STL314firstname.lastname@example.org Local Social Entrepreneur Selected as PresenTense Global Fellow St. Louis, MO (May 2010) – Yoni Sarason, the Program Director of Next Dor STL, has been invited to spend 6 weeks this summer living in Jerusalem as a PresenTense Fellow. Since opening its doors in November of 2009, Next Dor STL has connected hundreds of young Jewish adults in St. Louis. Each year, PresenTense selects a handful of social entrepreuers working on a variety of social ventures that seek to solve problems facing the Jewish People and the World to participate in the program. Sarason connected with Ariel Beery, the co-founder of PresenTense at the Birthright Israel NEXT National Conference in New Orleans in March of this year. They immediately recognized the connection between the work that Next Dor STL has been doing in the St. Louis community and the work that PresentTense does on a global scale. After the conference, Beery invited Sarason to connect with Aharon Horowitz, his business partner, who encouraged Sarason to apply for the fellowship, believing that he could bring his knowledge to the table to help other projects. “I'm honored to have been selected for this fellowship” remarks Sarason, “Not only do I believe this to me an amazing opportunity for personal development, I think that it is really a testament to the power of the community that has grown around Next Dor STL and the impact that community has had for individuals involved.” The PresenTense website describes the PresenTense Summer Institute as “a unique training program for Jewish social entrepreneurs, built by entrepreneurs. It incorporates a number of training modules to provide innovators the resources, skills and opportunities needed for venture success. Fellows are taught core business skills through skillbuilding sessions, the tool-kit is refined by leading academics and business professionals, fellows are mentored by leaders in their fields, coached by professionals, connected with industry peers -- and showcased to the greater community in a final Launch Night.” Sarason adds “I look forward to gaining skills related to leadership, management, organizational development and sustainability within a Jewish context that understands and respects the unique position of the Next Dor STL project.”
Sarason departs June 8, 2010. He shares “I anticipate coming back to St. Louis with an even greater passion matched with heightened abilities and more honed skills.” For the year following his return, PresenTense will continue to work with Sarason and Next Dor STL through the Venture Development services.
While Sarason is travelling, Jacob Albert and David Elias will assume his responsibilities.
Rabbi Akiva Tatz, who has written and spoken on a large number of Jewish subjects, spoke at Next Dor last night to a crowd of interested young adults spanning the religious spectrum.
Rabbi Tatz spoke about relationships, and more specifically marriage in the Jewish context. For more on his talk, click here
PJ at Jewishinstlouis.org just published a great story about some of the Yoga going on at Next Dor. You can read that story here
Over the weekend, the Next Dor house hosted a quite a few different gatherings.
Saturday morning, between the Challah French Toast, Guitar Hero, and Hebrew Tutoring Lessons, the house was alive with activity.
On Sunday, after the volunteers returned from LightFest, Next Dor hosted a student studying the chiropractic arts at Logan to discuss her trade and show off a bit of her knowledge. At the same time, a jam session broke out and lasted until around 9.
If you want to cook, teach, learn, play, or just hang out, email yoni@nextdorstl
Next Dor is now even better suited for your sitting pleasure. On top of the existing sectional, we've added another sofa and two chairs downstairs, and two very comfortable reading chairs upstairs.
Whether you want a quiet place to study away from the loud grinding of espresso beans, or just want a bright place to read a book, your tuches will love the new digs at Next Dor. Email us at nextdorstl at gmail and let us know when you are dropping in.
The house is really coming along nicely! The renovations are nearly complete, everything has a fresh coat of paint and the house is almost ready for you. Check out this video we took of what the house is looking like.