Hakhel, the Jewish intentional communities incubator, brought together 35 Jewish leaders from 21 Jewish intentional communities in 11 countries to see the latest innovative models for community building.
Community leaders from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Netherlands, Spain, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States participated.
Avital Khazanov, from Los Angeles also took part in the convention. Khazanov runs Or Gavoa – Light of Learning Avital’s Shabbat and Holidays, which brings Jewish young professionals together in the United States.
The week-long trip that ended May 16 included training and development opportunities as well as meetings with leaders of Israel’s most successful intentional communities. They will have the opportunity to meet with leaders from Friends By Nature, a community network of Ethiopian intentional communities, where they will discuss the work they are doing to create dynamic programming and communal empowerment for this underprivileged sector of Israeli society.
“The key to building and sustaining a successful intentional community is mentorship,” Hakhel General Director Aharon Ariel Lavi said in a statement. “Our goal was to bring the leaders of the top Jewish intentional communities in the Diaspora to meet with these successful communities here in Israel to learn best practices from them and for them to advise each other.”
During the trip they met with The Reshet, a community of young adults in their 20s and 30s who chose to stay in Be’er Sheva after their university studies to create a vibrant and inviting scene for young adults; met with the leaders of Druze intentional communities, as well as with a joint farm of Jews and Arabs in Gush Etzion and visited communities on the Gaza border, and spent Shabbat there, learning what it meant to strengthen Israel’s periphery on a daily basis.
“It’s my honor to be part of Hakhel’s Jewish Intentional Communities Incubator which helps me to learn more about intentional communities and to further develop mine,” Khazanov told the Journal in a statement. “The recent trip to Israel was a great opportunity to for me to learn from different communities and startups about how they developed their core groups and expanded from there to expand that group. This trip opened a different perspective on how people live in Israel and what it means to be a Jewish social entrepreneur/community builder. Just one takeaway from this trip is the idea of starting a YouTube channel through which I hope to bring Jewish Values and inspiration to my L.A.-based community.”
Founded in 2014, Hakhel’s mission is to spark and support new expressions of Jewish life in the Diaspora by nurturing the growth of intentional communities with advisors, seed funding and network building. They operate in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, which works to strengthen Jewish life in the Diaspora and connection to Israel.