Tributes to OZ

In Honor of our Fifth Or Zarua Anniversary,

what are the Top Five Things that you

Appreciate most about Or Zarua?

1. Rabbi Shelly's leadership - she makes you feel that each and every member is known and cared for.

and her teaching style that lifts us all and inspires us to work for a better world

2. The Or Zarua community members; the welcoming, caring, and accepting atmosphere

3. The opportunities to participate and be active in areas that interest you

4. Rabbi Shelly provides many connections to work within Interfaith communities for equity and justice

5. The co-constructed framework that allows for many leaders to bring their skills and knowledge to the community

Lisa A.

Its grass-roots origins and the sense of genuine welcome, and inclusion

A culture of participation and collaboration, AKA “co-construction”

The community's commitment to the well-being of all, in broadening circles encompassing the self, other individuals, groups, humanity, and all creation

Recognition, appreciation, and cultivation of the gifts of each person

Torah, writ large, as its framework


Reb Shelly’s kindness and caring

Our rich Torah Study

The opportunity to participate in a Wise Aging group

Or Zarua’s many varied activities, both Jewish and otherwise

Our interfaith collaborations


1. The vision, outlook, and values upheld consistently in both words and actions make us feel hopeful, warm inside, and inspired.

2. The acceptance of difference and the effort to stay with finding ways to find connections is inspiring, hopeful, and energizing.

3. In conjunction with #2, the inclusivity and warm invitation to participate as much or as little as one wants or feels comfortable doing.

4. The reminders and support to stay with one’s beliefs and to not get discouraged or give up when there’s so much despair, and

5. To find joy and laughter and lightness in life and appreciate what is good around us!

Ellen and Chuck S.

1) I love Rabbi Shelly and her unique capacity to bring love, communal bond, spirituality and profound insight to any moment.

2) I love knowing a community of like-hearted, like-minded, and like-spirited individuals are only a phone call, email, or zoom away.

3) I love the intimacy of every event and religious service.

4) I love the concept that we all co-create OZ under Reb Shelly’s guidance and that she welcomes and embraces every member’s unique talents.

5) I love the diversity of volunteer and cultural events, religious services, and learnings that OZ offers.

Beth B.

Rabbi Shelly gets to know each member and I know would be there for me in a time of need.

Because she knows us, she knows who is able and willing to participate or lead in various ways. She sees and accesses the unique gift each of us brings to the community.

We have made many new friends…pretty wonderful and unusual at this stage of our lives.

Services that are short, non-repetitive, and involve lots of singing.

Each person’s religious beliefs are respected.

Carol C.

1)World-class Rabbi

2)World-class Rebbitzman

3)The community

4)The music

5)The relevance of the offerings to everyday life

Tom S-S

  • Community.

  • Compassion, tenderness.

  • R. Shelly, support, creativity, spirituality

  • Shared variety of experiences - meditation through movement, poetry, anti-racism.

  • Collaboration with other religious communities and a sense of shared purpose.

Susan, Dan A-R


Reaching out to individual congregants during difficult times

Spiritual leadership


Open, intimate sharing among families

Marc L.

The people who are congregants

The people you really get to know by working together

Shelly's devotion to our congregation

Working with the Quaker community and Bethel AME

Molly and her wonderful music

Judy H.

Clearly, our belonging to Or Zarua has enriched our lives.

Through Rabbi Shelly Barnathan’s warm presence, compassion, and guidance in reaching for our “better selves,” we are inspired.

In the community that has emerged, we find comfort, shared values, and deep appreciation for many talents and welcoming spirits.

We’ve found peacefulness in joining together for musical Kabbalat Shabbat.

Ever evolving are new offerings for learning, for growing, for pleasure,

Or Zarua possesses a vibrancy, as our community responds to the needs of our larger environs and our world.

Esther and Bern S.

1) I appreciate being part of a Jewish community that encourages me to dig deep, reflect and be a part of the change in the world.

2) I enjoy the many choices of activities that Or Zarua offers like Shabbat services, Anti-Racism group discussions, yoga, and qigong.

3) I appreciate how kind and caring Or Zarua members are and how welcoming everyone has been to me.

4) I like that Or Zarua is involved in the community and looking for volunteering opportunities as I do in my community.

5) I like that you are involved with other religious communities and that your focus is on human kindness and bringing people together.

Nina B.

The rabbi! Personal, thoughtful, knowledgeable, and communicative

The poetry and music that accompany our services

The story-telling--of course I'm partial to Barbara Cohen-Kligerman

The social concern

The variety of activities and focus areas, including the opportunities to host

Abby and Tom B.

Genuine, direct and passionate engagement in Social Justice

Tikkun Olam as a core component

Empathetic, compassionate outreach by members to members

A community that is not too numerous which allows for it to be tight-knit (and hopefully we will not grow too much which would diminish who we are).

... Members feel accepted and embraced for who they are.

Rochelle O-W

1. I find a commonness of intent, to do good in the world, Tikkun Olam - Learning to Give, all throughout the congregation.

2. I love how Rabbi Shelly brings broad views and perspectives of ideas, thinking, history, liturgy, poetry, music, and joy.

3. I meet diverse people who are so thoughtful and thought-provoking

4. I learn Torah

5. I have a home Thank you, Rabbi Shelly and Or Zarua!

Fran G.

1. The amazing and diverse talents of the congregants.

2. R. Shelly and Rebbitzman Elliot provide the content leadership and structure with great love, intelligence, and warmth that makes all members feel important and welcome.

3. Tikkun Olam is not merely discussed but is actively pursued, and is a central mission of the OZ experience.

4. We engage in truly holy discussions, and not only about biblical texts, or racial justice, but about the human experience.

5. OZ is a vehicle for cultivating new relationships that are life-enriching and sustaining.

Lawrence S.

1. The wonderful and caring community

2. Rabbi Shelly’s vision and implementation of co-constructionism

3. The variety of practices (like poetry, yoga, and qigong) and specialized group experiences that members offer

4. The opportunity to create and have a voice

5. Meeting in people’s homes before Covid

Debby S-S

R. Shelly is very inclusive and inviting

The emphasis on spirituality and nurturing the soul

The wonderful music

The reliance on meaningful material and readings as opposed to the traditional following of the prayer book

The congregation is made up of and oriented toward people our age-makes for good camaraderie

Laurie L.

Ability to connect on Zoom when meeting is not possible. This allows us to be geographically boundless!

The teaching and intentions R. Shelly inserts seamlessly into prayer services.

The breadth of offerings...

The breadth of offerings without the expectation that one must do everything.

The tie to Tikkun Olam., esp. the commitment to interfaith and Racial Justice work.

Sherry P.

1)I love Rabbi Shelly and her unique capacity to bring love, communal bond, spirituality, and profound insight to any moment.

2) I love knowing a community of like-hearted, like-minded, and like-spirited individuals are only a phone call, email, or zoom away.

3) I love the intimacy of every event and religious service.

4) I love the concept that we all co-create OZ under Reb Shelley’s guidance and that she welcomes and embraces every member’s unique talents.

5) I love the diversity of volunteer and cultural events, religious services, and learnings that OZ offers.

Beth B.

- R. Shelly always reaches out and is available as well as being supportive, thoughtful, kind, and caring.

- I am among many individuals who are in the “same phase of life” as I am and trying to figure it out.

- It is a close-knit and sharing community.

- I enjoy the special sessions such as Wise Aging, Interfaith Grand-parenting, etc.

- The “spiritual” bent.


1. Rabbi Shelly

2. Rebbitzman Elliot

3. Emphasis on gratitude

4. Emphasis on social justice

5. Strong spiritual connection

Carol and Sid C.

Being part of a community of caring, interesting, and wonderful people

Being part of a community has shared values and traditions

Having Shelly as our rabbi....

R. Shelly she is an authentic leader for all us.....both knowledgeable and genuinely caring

Belonging to a group which is able to offer flexible and varied opportunities to participate, both virtual and in-person

Fern S.

1-the warm engaging community

2-the wide offerings that bring thoughtful intelligent discussions in both Judaic studies and socially conscious topics

3-Offerings that bring the community together in times of grief, celebration

4- opportunities for expression in the arts including poetry, art and music

5-Rabbi Shelly setting the tone with her warmth, intelligence and commitment

Eleanor B.

Rabbi Shelly

My fellow congregants

The Tikkun-Olam mission of OZ

The myriad opportunities for connection

Jen T.

  • Wonderful, caring leadership by R. Shelly and her personal connection with and care for all of us.

  • Involved, like-minded members.

  • Social action which is a big part of what OZ members do.

  • Uplifting the creative and artistic aspects of members.

  • Connecting with other faith communities locally.

Cathy C.

Rabbi Shelly





Sheryl E.

1. A warm and caring community

2. Wonderful rabbi

3. Interesting programs

4. Inclusive

5. Always thinking about justice for all and Tikkun Olam.

Donna S.

  • Flexible programing

  • Warm and friendly atmosphere

  • Variety of activities/ offerings

  • Inclusive services

  • Community support

Michele S.

Rabbi Shelly

Rebbitzman Elliot

Kind people

Caring community

Accessible meaningful engagement

Cyd W.

  • Intellectual

  • Welcoming

  • Peaceful

  • Educational

  • Spiritual

Jaci and Richard T.

1. Rabbi Shelly

2. Fellow congregants

3. Varied ways and opportunities to participate

4. Welcoming and warm atmosphere

5. All the musicians and their music

Margie and John B.

  • Hebrew in services

  • Music

  • Shelly and Elliot

  • Patience with different levels of involvement

  • Real commitment to Reconstructionist principles

Ian L.

-R. Shelly’s gentle kindness and spiritual presence

-Rebbitzman Elliot’s contributions, from poetry to technical support during services

-A congregation that, for the most part, is navigating together the same life cycle years

-Poetry workshop with Cathy Cohen

-Music at Kabbalat Shabbat, especially that of Molly Hicks

Terri L.

Or Zarua is the exact right size for me~large enough to offer a multitude of entry points and small enough for each person to be seen and known.

Audrey F.


Arnie and Sue F.

OZ is a wonderful warm spiritual community with great congregants a fabulous rabbi and so many meaningful offerings

Sari F.