What is Summer Institute?
Institute will unfortunately not be in person this year.
For some 40 years, 300 plus people have gathered for a week every summer to learn, teach, daven, sing, and be in Jewish community together.
The NHC’s flagship program, the week-long Summer Institute, is a unique opportunity for serious study, moving prayer, spirited conversation, late-night jam sessions, singing, dancing, swimming, meditation, and hiking — all in the company of more than 300 people from a wide range of backgrounds. Each year participants leave the Institute reinvigorated and excited to return to their home communities to share new ideas and experiences.
One of the NHC’s greatest strengths is the diversity of its participants. We are musicians, doctors, students, furniture makers, retirees, Jewish professionals, homemakers, teachers, activists, and just about everything else. At past Summer Institutes, our youngest participants have been under 6 months old and our oldest over 80, with many participants from all age groups in between. We are Jews from birth, Jews by choice, people committed to both traditional and non-traditional Jewish practice, non-Jews, and people exploring Judaism; LGBT and straight; people of color, Sefardi, Mizrachi and Ashkenazi; urban, rural, and suburban; Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform, Renewal, secular, and Jewish without labels; and people with no formal Jewish education, people with Ph.D.’s in Talmud, and people with all other types of Jewish backgrounds. The dynamic process of exploring together what Judaism and Jewishness means in our lives is a highlight of the Institute.
At the Summer Institute, every teacher is also a student and every student is also a teacher. People who are usually called “rabbi” or “professor” throughout the year go by their first names here. And people who rarely take active leadership roles in their communities discover that they, too, can teach and contribute to the community.
One participant summed it up when she wrote after attending her first Havurah Institute: “The Havurah Institute was slightly closer to heaven on earth than other places I’ve been before. It was a week of learning, singing, dancing, talking, thinking, and feeling…You could make friends with anyone regardless of age or affiliation. It was a place full of individuals and families of all ages, shapes, colors, orientations and interests, united by a love of learning and teaching and a desire to make Judaism a positive force in their lives.” We look forward to creating community with you at the NHC Summer Institute!
We invite you to join friends and friends-to-be of all ages and backgrounds to come to the National Havurah Committee Summer Online Institute. Our theme this year is:
Intergenerational: At Summer Institute, participant ages have ranged from a month and a half old to over 80 years. Children between 6 months and 12 years old can spend the week at Kidstitute (link to come). Participants from all age groups shared meals, stories, teachings, songs, and talents all week long.
Pluralistic and Inclusive: The NHC Summer Institute includes people committed to various forms of traditional and non-traditional Jewish practice, Jews from birth, Jews by choice, Jews with multiple religious heritages, non-Jews, and people exploring Judaism.
Diverse backgrounds and lives: NHC Summer Institute participants hold a variety of identities including LGBTQ and straight; people of color, Sephardi, Mizrachi and Ashkenazi; urban, rural, and suburban; Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform, Renewal, secular, and Jewish without labels.
Learning for Everyone: NHC Summer Institute participants also have a variety of Jewish learning backgrounds, from those with no formal Jewish education to those with Ph.D.s in Talmud.
The dynamic process of exploring together what Judaism and Jewishness means in our lives is a highlight of the Summer Institute.
Financial Accessibility: The NHC is deeply committed to making the Institute financially accessible to all. Fees are on a sliding scale, and numerous fellowships and work-study opportunities are available. In particular, first-time attendees ages 22-32 can apply for the Zeitler fellowship (link to come), college students and others ages 18-21 are welcome to apply for the Ma’avir fellowship (link to come). For more information, see our Fellowships page (link to come).
Every day at the Summer Institute, participants lead each other in a different menu of spirited prayer options in many styles, including daily traditional egalitarian morning services with full Hebrew liturgy, plus meditative, movement, and musical services, with and without instruments, both indoors and outdoors, as well as mincha (afternoon) and maariv (evening) services. All minyanim organized and sponsored by the NHC are fully egalitarian, with equal participation regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Courses are a central part of the Institute experience. Each Institute participant may enroll in two courses, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Courses meet Tuesday through Friday for 1.5 hour sessions. Each course has a maximum of 20 students and is led by a teacher who is also an Institute participant, presenting material that they love in an inclusive style that encourages everyone to participate. Courses cover a wide-range topics, including history, Bible, rabbinics, literature, contemporary issues, arts, music, and many more. Want to teach? Call for Course Proposals details and application here!
One way in which we share ourselves with each other at the Summer Institute is through hour-long workshops that occur each morning and afternoon during the week. Anyone can propose a workshop, and it’s a great place to try out a new idea or experiment with teaching and leading. This is a great way to share something with our community. Workshops can be presented in any format that the teacher/facilitator can imagine, from discussion to hevruta/paired learning to lecture to shared activity (e.g., group run).
Each evening after dinner, the community gathers for programming as a large group. Some of these programs may be led by the Timbrel Artists in Residence, Hollander Social Justice Fellow, or the Liturgist in Residence. Some may be serious discussions of issues with which we want to engage as a community. Some will be lighter-hearted ways to connect – a talent show, a dance party.
The community that gathers for Summer Institute wants to make the most of our time together. Each evening after our large-group program, we offer other structured opportunities to enjoy each others’ company: making music, playing games, dancing, singing along to movie musicals, additional studying, and other sorts of merry-making. All participants can volunteer to lead a late-night program in their registration.
And whatever else you want to make happen!
Looking to make contact with folks from your home geography? Want to explore the themes of Harry Potter through a Jewish lens? Are you an early riser who wants to circumnavigate campus with others before breakfast? Seeking support for building your crochet or Torah reading skills? Need a haircut? Put up a notice about your interest and where and when others can meet up with you. We are the ones who build our community! We are the ones who decide what that looks like!
*Things can and may change due to Covid-19.