The project, which aims to create an environment where women can spiritually and intellectually prepare themselves for Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe/High Holidays), was selected out of 93 applicants. It is one of 16 projects chosen for the OU investment. Each of the applicants were evaluated based on the creativity of the program, target audience and if the project could be reused in other communities.
Because the annual Man Seder was successful, the synagogue sought to re-create a social atmosphere with food and drinks to help attract women from different ages and religious observances across the community to engage in learning before the High Holidays.
The program will consist of three segments, including: Teshuva, Tefilla and Tzedakah. Teshuva involves experimental and text-based learning with sessions run by speakers and facilitators from across the country. Tefilla will bring the women together in song to end the program. Tzedakah will include a raffle fundraiser, the proceeds of which will be donated to a women’s organization.
The initiative was the brainchild of Rabbi Adam Starr and Tova Warburg Sinensky, the synagogue’s new yoetzet halacha, women’s adviser on Jewish law.
“Rabbi Adam Starr and I have partnered to create an evening that touches on the social, emotional and intellectual realms to help the women in the YITH community prepare for one of the most important parts of the Jewish year, one which is often not fully tapped by us as women,” Sinensky said.
“We hope that this program will function as an inspiring and uplifting evening in its own right, and that the participants will develop tangible ways in which they can bring their learning and inspiration into their families and into the shul community.”
The program will launch next year in preparation for the high holiday season and targets female community members in their 30s through 50s who work outside the home, which can create a challenge when trying to balance homework and religious life.
Starr added, “I think the recognition from the OU shows that we are doing important work and creating creative opportunities for women to further engage in synagogue life and their spiritual life.”