An Eretz Israel Community in Jerusalem
Rabbi Tamar Elad Appelbaum
Email Zion Kehila Eretz Yisraeli
Kehilat Zion is a community of Israeli Jews of varied backgrounds, beliefs, customs, and practices, gathering together to re-dream Jerusalem as a meeting point for all. Zion provides the opportunity for many to pray and celebrate Judaism in a way that feels authentic and relevant to them, often for the first time in their lives, within a community deeply rooted in tradition and Jewish heritage. Within a few years of its inception, Kehilat Zion became a unique inspirational community for Jews and our friends in faith – in Israel and around the world, paving the way through prayer, social justice, and study to a Jerusalem of tolerance and hope.
Zion Seeks to Re-Dream Jerusalem by:
Building a Welcoming Community and Creating an Israeli Language of Prayer
Zion provides the opportunity for Jews of different backgrounds and identities to pray and celebrate Judaism in a way that feels authentic to them. Our motto to “come as you are” invites growth in the realm of prayer, study, and social justice, while being surrounded by others who are doing the same. Men and women, Orthodox and secular, Reform and Conservative, Sephardi and Ashkenazi are all welcome to participate and lead in an egalitarian setting.
Kehilat Zion’s network of batei midrash, or houses of learning, is rooted in our core value of building a pluralistic Jerusalem based on mutual respect, knowledge and hope. Currently, our most popular learning programs are the Interfaith Beit Midrash, which brings together members of Kehilat Zion and members of the Hebrew-speaking Catholic Community of Jerusalem once a month to study text together, and Vehadarta, a study program in Hebrew and English led by and for Zion’s senior cohort, who meet to find meaning in aging together.
Bridging Faiths in the Public Sphere
In a tradition initiated and organized by Kehilat Zion, we meet three times a year to bring light and build bridges via prayer at Jerusalem’s First Station outdoor venue. Believers, our annual Jerusalem Day interfaith prayer event that envisions what Jerusalem can be for all, has become a well-known and loved cultural and spiritual experience. Other events in the public sphere include our interfaith Chanukah candle lighting and a multi-denominational selichot event preceding Yom Kippur.
Innovating Social Justice Project
Kehilat Zion feels its responsibility to deepen to language of hesed, or loving-kindness, in Jerusalem, as a core value. To that end, we engage in tikkun olam together through social justice initiatives that are born in the community and which succeed as a result of activists and volunteers from within our midst. Among our initiatives: a significant project supporting young asylum seekers who arrived in Israel years ago as unaccompanied minors via “adoption” by community members and friends, and a multi-faith second-hand clothing store led by volunteers from Zion, as well as Christian and Muslim partners, with proceeds providing support for the disadvantaged in all three communities in Jerusalem.