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Read The Articles
from The Jacob Project:

Are You Ready?
Approaching the Jacob Project

Becoming Engaged:
Approaching Rosh Chodesh

What's Possible?
Approaching Shabbat

What Moves You?
Approaching Social Action

What's Missing?
Approaching Yom Kippur

Are We There Yet?
Approaching Sukkot

Meaningful Media:
Approaching Torah

Lands of Milk and Honey:
A Jewish Approach
to Thanks...giving

Celebrating Our Year Together

Our Movement's Principles:
Approaching Reform

Chosen for What?
Approaching Passover

God, Science, and
Living with Uncertainty

It's Your Choice:
Approaching Shavuot
Are You Ready?
Approaching the Jacob Project

The Jacob Project began June 8 / Rosh Chodesh Sivan, which was for me a day of, well, worrying: Would the project draw enough interest to make it a go? Would people participate or would there be uncomfortable silences? Would they like it enough to come back for an entire year? We went around the room saying our names—some our Hebrew names too—and instantly this lively, laughing, pizza-eating group of 15 Jacob Project “pioneers” put my fears to rest. No shortage of conversation in this crowd!

We began by talking about what “makes” a Jewish year—Shabbat, holidays, tzedakah, Torah, music, community, food—and how we’d incorporate these elements into The Jacob Project year. But is a Jewish year simply the sum of its component parts? If you drew an EKG of your Jewish year last year, what would it look like? A flat line? A flat line with two ‘bumps’ (one for the High Holy Day service you attended and one for Passover)? A bump for every Shabbat? Would the peaks be higher when you had Jewish experiences that actually felt meaningful to you?

The goal of The Jacob Project is not merely to increase the number of bumps and peaks on your Jewish EKG. It is to raise the bottom line. To raise your Jewish heartbeat, through discussions and experiences, so that Judaism feels like a relevant part of your life rather than just a series of bumps interspersed with flat lines. How can we take Judaism from being something-we-all-have-in-common-and-that’s-it to being something that is alive and meaningful in our lives? Our goal is to figure out how to fix this “disconnect”—expressed so openly and honestly at our first gathering—between Jewish practices and what feels valuable and relevant to our generation.

Jacob Project participants need not know Hebrew, or be experts in Jewish texts, or have been raised in observant households, or have unwavering faith. Neither are all of these things required to lead The Jacob Project; I never went to religious school or had a bat mitzvah, and I grew up quite disinterested in Judaism. But, to borrow a phrase from Holly’s goodbye sermon a few years ago, somewhere along the way I fell in love. In love with Micah, with living Jewishly, with reading Torah, with being a part of this community… I hope to watch you too fall in love over the coming year, to raise your Jewish heartbeat.

So what is required? What does it take to fall in love? Can you just sit at home alone, watching TV? I think it begins with just an openness, a readiness, a receptiveness. “We can build a vibrant Jewish future….For our communal life to have vitality, we…need the perspective of the ‘seeking Jew’: A willingness to wrestle with difficult questions, with imponderable mysteries, and with the marvel of life itself….‘The Jewish individual needs nothing but readiness’….Are you ready?” (The Bedside Torah).

There was an abundance of readiness in the chapel at this initial gathering of Jacob Project “pioneers,” and I’m so excited for what this year will bring!

--Nickie Roberts

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Yih'yu l'ratzon imrei fi v'hegyon libi l'fanecha Adonai tzuri v'goali.

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