Jewish Renewal, Nigun Halev Congregation

The congregation of Nigun Halev, Tradition and Innovation in the Valley, is the first Israeli community to uphold modern Jewish tradition without belonging to any religious denomination. In its spirit and under its inspiration many similar congregations have blossomed throughout the country. As a regional congregation, its members come from the kibbutzim, moshavim and small communities and towns in the Jezreel Valley. The congregation holds ceremonies and events in the spirit of Jewish tradition, engages in acts of social justice and holds study evenings that center around Jewish holidays and festivals.

Steve Stulman
The congregation was six years old when I was recruited to be "community coordinator". Its founders came to realize at that stage that they could not develop the organization on a purely voluntary basis any longer and decided to emphasize the administrative, management side of the congregation.  

The Nigun Halev Congregation was established by a group of families from Hamidrasha Be'Oranim who took a new and uncharted path by deciding to deal with contents of Jewish heritage without being subject to the Israeli orthodox religious establishment or belonging to any particular Jewish denomination. After several years of having studied and taught Judaism, and following a rather eye-opening encounter with the B'nai Jeshurun [BJ] Congregation, from Manhattan, NY, some of the families within the Midrasha decided to try to celebrate Jewish rituals and festivals in a way that combines Jewish tradition, pioneering Israeli culture in which they grew up, adapted to a liberal, feminist and pluralist world view. They began convening on Friday evenings, initially once a month and then every two weeks, to welcome the Sabbath together. They later found a temporary home at the Nahalal social club and opened the doors to their events and rituals to all Jezreel Valley residents, under the title "Nigun Halev, tradition and innovation in the Valley". Soon, realizing there was an acute need for it, the congregation began to hold study groups before holidays as well as Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies.
Kabalat Sefer Torah

In the congregation document it is written:

  "As the 21st century begins, the State of Israel is undergoing a prolonged ideological  and spiritual crisis whose major symptoms are an increasing disconnectedness between the secular public and its Jewish and Zionist  heritage; a shortage of family and public frameworks for celebrating the Sabbath, holidays and rituals; a loosening of mutual aid and support and a sharp increase in the sense of loneliness and alienation of the individual; an absence of intimate social frameworks in the Israeli public sphere that can provide warmth, belonging and flavor to the individual and his family. Jewish society in Israel must, almost against its will, revive the term "community". Community life is a social-organic framework in which the individual and his family can express their talents, realize their values, give and take, create, and mainly - belong. The Jewish community life, known for its various religious denominations, cannot provide a solution for the majority of the Israeli secular public. This public finds it difficult to enter a synagogue - any synagogue: orthodox, conservative or reform. The challenge we face, therefore, is to create an authentic, meaningful, uniquely Jewish-Israeli sense of community for the secular public in Israel."  
Kabalat Sefer Torah 
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