Or Zarua 

אור זרוע

Or Zarua

"Light is Sown for the Righteous"

Psalm 97:11

Let us find our own inner light and lift up the light in each other.      

אור זרוע לצדיק 

Click here - Or Zarua - A Spiritual Home for Boomers  

Philadelphia Jewish Exponent

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 (and fully accessible by Zoom),  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 new 5785 year, our Or Zarua offerings will continue to be offered

In-Person and Multi-Access/Hybrid.

This reflects our central Or Zarua values of connection and inclusion, 

from near and far.

Join our holy Or Zarua community of light! 

Or Zarua  

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, allowing each host family to experience their home as a Makom Kadosh – a holy place. For several of our Kabbalat Shabbat services, and 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 Social Justice Learning and Action group, monthly Poetry writing, Gentle Qigong and Yoga, plus special Wise Aging, Mussar, storytelling, "Living your Dreams",  parents/grandparents of Interfaith families, Jewish mindfulness classes and other classes based on the talents and interests of our members.

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!

Or Zarua is a J.Proud community!