I was at a congregation where a leader was explaining what a “Chavurah” was to a visitor. He said its technically part of the congregation, but he doesn’t push it, and it is basically a get together of people, but not very important. I have to say that the leader doesn’t have much understanding about the value of a chavurah, or the needs of his people. For him, everything is the “service,” on Shabbat morning.
The reality is, the service is about worship. People don’t really get to know one another at a service, and the service may meet some needs, but it doesn’t create or build community. A chavurah provides the opportunity for people get together and enjoy one another’s company. It also provides an opportunity to worship, as we have a torah service in our chavurah. A chavurah also provides good teaching. It provides an informal setting for people to get to know one another, and for new people to relax and enjoy themselves.
In short, a Chavurah builds a sense of community and belonging. There is good food, and everyone has a great time. It is just as important as the congregational meeting, which is more formal, and has a potential of being boring. While we may have an Oneg Shabbat at a congregational service, it just doesn’t compare. No one who is part of a chavurah considers it boring. It is a wonderful experience that I hope everyone gets to share.