Praying with our hands and feet

Linking religious passion and social justice

The author is one of the founders and a current board member of Chico Havurah. The Havurah welcomes guests to services. For a schedule of services or more information, see

Chico Havurah is a small Jewish congregation with a passionate commitment to inclusivity, celebration, joyful community and social justice. Our diverse membership includes followers of other religious traditions who are interested in Judaism, and Jews for whom the theological aspects are incomplete without social action.

As an example of our commitment to joining with like-minded individuals and groups, Chico Havurah is proud to cosponsor, with the Congregational Church of Chico, the Shalom Free Clinic, which offers medical and mental-health care on Sunday afternoons. A number of people within the Havurah (Hebrew word meaning fellowship) are involved with a variety of social-action groups within the community.

We are therefore delighted to have received a community-development grant from the Jewish Federation of Sacramento to implement our proposed “Visiting Rabbi/Social Action Project.” In conjunction with local social-justice groups, we want to bring four visiting rabbis from Sacramento or the Bay Area for four Friday/Saturday visits related to a different social-justice issue each visit.

Each visiting rabbi will lead us in Friday-night Sabbath services, with a focus on a specific topic. Prior to the visit, we plan to pair up with one or several local organizations that focus on that particular issue.

On the following Saturday morning we will offer a class discussing the Jewish perspective on the issue and on some aspect or perspective of tikkun olam (a Hebrew phrase meaning repairing or healing the world). On Saturday afternoon we will plan to join our local partners in a service project and fundraising effort. Our goal is to contribute to their efforts with time, financial contributions and increased visibility for their work.

In the coming weeks Havurah members will be identifying agencies interested in partnering with us to implement the project. This is an open invitation to anyone in the community who is interested in learning more about our project and/or would be willing to commit to working directly with the Havurah to bring this project to fruition.

The program will be officially launched Friday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. when Rabbi Jane Littman, the Havurah liaison with the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, presents “Praying With Our Hands and Feet” at the Congregational Church of Chico, 1190 E. First Ave. at Downing. For information contact me, Silona Reyman, at 520-3946 or 894-1821.