27 new communities added to Hakhel’s Jewish Intentional Communities

The Hakhel organization's network of Jewish communities spans from the US to Europe to Australia.

A Hakhel gathering: since Hakhel began five years ago, it has become the largest global incubator for Jewish intentional communities (photo credit: HAKHEL)
A Hakhel gathering: since Hakhel began five years ago, it has become the largest global incubator for Jewish intentional communities
(photo credit: HAKHEL)
The Hakhel organization, dedicated to fostering Jewish millennials around the world, has just added 27 new communities to its network, from US to Europe and Australia.
Hakhel founder and general director Aharon Ariel Lavi says that Jewish millennials are becoming increasingly less involved in traditional Jewish structures such as synagogues, Jewish community centers and federations. Therefore, he says, “Jewish intentional communities are ever more necessary in order to engage young Jews in their 20s and 30s within an organized framework.”
Lavi told The Jerusalem Post that “the purpose of the program is to strengthen Jewish life in the diaspora... especially for those who are not part of an established Jewish community.” He explained: “We believe that the second most important component of Jewish identity, after the family, is the community –, and without community, Jewish survival chances are very low... Jewish Intentional Communities are more intimate, tangible and emotional, and so we think this is something there is a real need for and that can work.”
Founded in 2014, Hakhel works in cooperation with the Hazon organization and the Israel Diaspora Affairs Ministry. It provides professional support for the development of such communities, including funding and advisory services for maintenance and growth. Hakhel currently has a budget of $7.2 million, half of which is provided by the ministry, and the other half from various foundations and donors.
The communities Hakhel supports are largely self-organizing; they coalesce together around a particular enterprise or undertaking, such as arts, culture, environmentalism, spirituality, Jewish learning and so on. The European communities that have recently received backing include Kehilla Hashira in the UK, the Hungarian Minyan in Berlin, the Paris Sustainable Community in France, the JewSalsa Brussels program in Belgium and the Oslo Jewish Family Group in Norway.
New communities come from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium, Norway, the US and Australia and have undergone a rigorous vetting process, including both written statements and interviews with Hakhel’s staff and the Diaspora Affairs Ministry. These communities will receive support from Hakhel over the next three years in order to develop their community based on their unique needs, which may include increasing participation, fundraising, branding, programming, education and more. They will continue to work with Hakhel’s staff to develop sustainable models, helping to ensure the continuation of the connection to Jewish identity and services for their members.
There are a total of 120 supported communities in 36 countries on 6 continents around the globe, including places as far away as Kyrgyzstan and South Korea, and across Australia, South America, the US and Europe. Lavi explained that, “Our goal in working with such a diverse group of communities is to ensure that any Jew seeking a connection to our faith has a place to do so. If we are innovative in our approach, it can have a meaningful impact for generations.”