Project Makom

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Welcome to Project Makom, an initiative to help former and questioning Charedi Jews find their place in Orthodox Judaism.

While we believe that there are numerous valid paths within Orthodox Judaism, not all observant Jews are born into a community which fits them. There are many Modern Orthodox Jews who choose to move to the right, but many Charedi Jews who want to transition to a more Centrist or Modern Orthodox community face hurdles that prevent them from doing so (whether cultural, educational, or simply feeling unwelcomed). Some of these people end up leaving religious life altogether.

Makom will offer one on one mentoring so that participants can meet a new friend in a community to which they previously had no access; classes to discuss questions and variances in Jewish hashkafa and law; meetings to share experiences; mediation between families and individuals; tutoring services; Shabbatonim with discussion groups and classes, and more.

LATEST MAKOM SHABBATON!

Join us for our 3rd Makom Shabbaton, September 16th-17th in Baltimore, MD. Register as well as find out about pricing and programming by clicking this link!

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How you can join Project Makom

If you have any further questions, you can email info@jewinthecity.com.

Thank you for taking part in this important endeavor!

 

History of Project Makom

Project Makom began when Allison Josephs first wrote about a problem she was hearing about from people who were contacting her: ex-Haredim who wanted to stay connected to Judaism, but couldn’t find a community that they could fit into. Allison wrote,

I met such a couple over a year ago when I spoke in Rockland county. This couple had been raised in one of the strictest Hasidic sects and did not feel that they could remain in it anymore. Unfortunately, their families had rejected them when they expressed their desire to move to a less strict Orthodox community. They came up to me at the end of my talk and said “We still want to be frum, we just don’t know how to outside of our old community.”

Allison asked the readers of Jew in the City to let us know if they were willing to help solve this need. In only a few days, well over a hundred people from all over the world reached out to us, offering to invite people in this situation for Shabbos, help them get their kids into schools, and welcome them into their communities.

We found our co-directors, Mindy Schaper (Director of Programming) and Gavriella Lerner (Director of Education) and began gathering a database of the mentors who had offered their help. Soon afterwards, we had our first event, a shabbaton in Airmont, NY, which was a big success and laid the groundwork for more events.

Project Makom was not started to, God forbid, attack the Haredi world. There are pluses and minuses within every Orthodox Jewish community, and just as there are ultra-Orthodox Jews who move to the left, there are Modern Orthodox Jews who move to the right. We started this initiative because we heard from former Haredim that they wanted to remain observant but didn’t know how to access other non-Haredi observant communities due to lack of education, culture gaps, and a sense of feeling un-welcomed. When we first started telling them about this initiative, several ex-haredim who are now entirely disconnected from Judaism noted that they might still be observant today had we been around when they were on their way out.

Read all the posts about Project Makom here.

Why the name?

We named this initiative “Makom” because this word has several meanings which fit our goals. “Makom” means “place” – as in “every Jew should be able to find his place in our community.” It means “space” as in “we will make space for you if you want to join us here.” And lastly, “Makom” is one of the names of God. We refer to God as “HaMakom” when we’re comforting a mourner. The Maharal says that “Makom” is connected to the word“mekayem,” something that sustains and provides existence. Many of the people making this transition need both comfort and sustenance as they find their way in a community which is unfamiliar to them.

 

How else can I help?

So far, Project Makom doesn’t have much of a budget, and we are running it thanks to the devoted labor of volunteers. If you would like to partner with us in expanding our much-needed work, please reach out and help us make a difference!

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