"Light is Sown for the Righteous"
Let us find our own inner light and lift up the light in each other.
אור זרוע לצדיק
Or Zarua is a co-constructed Jewish spiritual community, founded in 2017 and led by Reconstructionist Rabbi Shelly Barnathan, centering on the concept of B’tzelem Elohim/being created in the image of G-d. At Or Zarua, we lift up the qualities, skills, and talents of each person, allowing each person to be known, cared for, and honored in authentic, supportive community.
Or Zarua is an LGBTQ and Jews of Color inclusive community. Social Justice initiatives and interfaith work with our local partners are central to our holy work. The Or Zarua community provides each participant with a safe, appreciative environment in which each person’s inner Or/Light can shine, allowing and encouraging the inner Or/Light of others to shine as well.
Located in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, the mission of Or Zarua is to access the Or/light in each one of us through living our Jewish values. As we access our own light, we sow/plant light in others and perform the holy work of Tikkun Olam in the world.
Rabbi Shelly Barnathan is a 2015 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. As a child of Holocaust survivors and raised in a Modern Orthodox home, Rabbi Shelly possesses roots that are firmly planted in Jewish prayer, text, and practice. Rabbi Shelly is a "seeker", taking the traditional roots of Judaism and planting seeds of light into the world through acts of Tikkun Olam/Social Justice as well as creative Jewish practices such as chant, meditation, poetry, and song. It is Rabbi Shelly’s greatest wish to accompany members of the Or Zarua community on their personal Jewish journeys, helping each person to find the Or/light within each one of us, so that we can bring more light to our world, so in need of our care.
For our 5783 year, our Or Zarua offerings will continue to be "multi-access/hybrid."
Our offerings will continue to be offered by Zoom, with in-person gatherings as they are safe for our community.
Our decisions will be guided by our OZ values of connection, inclusion,
and the value of Pikuach Nefesh/health and safety of body and soul for all.
Statement of Purpose
Or Zarua, an emerging community of meaning located in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, focuses on the needs of empty nesters/baby boomers who are engaged, socially responsible Jews searching for alternatives to the “traditional” synagogue model. Or Zarua was created to provide deep, meaningful, spiritually relevant, supportive community in which each member is authentically known and cared for.
Or Zarua is not a “top-down” model, but is rather a co-constructed model in which the rabbi serves as a “facilitator” and “spiritual guide.” At Or Zarua, Rabbi Shelly Barnathan takes much time to learn the background, interests, and spiritual goals of each participant. Rabbi Shelly then connects participants to one another in order to facilitate their self-organization and co-leadership of Or Zarua offerings.
Our model is meeting primarily in the homes of members, (we are returning to this model in a hybrid/multi-access fashion), allowing each host family to experience their home as a Makom Kadosh – a holy place. For High Holidays and larger events, we meet at Old Haverford Friends Meeting House (in a hybrid/multi-access fashion), which provides many interfaith opportunities for our community, along with other local partner churches, mosques, Quaker Meetings and synagogues.
Or Zarua offerings consist of monthly Friday night and Shabbat morning services, bi-weekly Torah study, monthly Anti-Racism learning and Action group, monthly Poetry writing, Gentle Qigong and Yoga, plus special Wise Aging, Mussar, storytelling, and Jewish mindfulness classes.
At Or Zarua, we engage in the work of Gemilut Chasadim, supporting one another in times of joy and challenge, and we are committed to Tikkun Olam, repair of the world, through supporting refugees, those with food insecurity, our LGBTQ members and community, and providing dignity for the incarcerated. We work against gun violence, and against all forms of racism and anti-Semitism. We are all created in the holy image of G-d, and we live this central value each day.
At Or Zarua, we treat one another in an appreciative fashion, finding the gifts we each possess, and lifting those up.
At Or Zarua, we are grounded in the traditional roots of Judaism (texts, practices, and Jewish values), blending these traditional roots with creative Jewish practices such as chant, movement, mindfulness, poetry, Jewish storytelling, and song, in order to make deep, relevant meaning in our lives.
At Or Zarua, we access the Or/light in each one of us through living our Jewish values and fostering deep, authentic, caring relationships and through respectful, open, appreciative communication. As we access our own light, we sow/plant light in others and perform the holy work of Tkkun Olam in the world.
Join us in our holy, co-constructed,
community building work at Or Zarua!