Do I have to be religious? Do I have to be Jewish?
What if I’m not religious?
Nehirim is a Jewish organization, but many of our participants do not identify as religious. ¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†We welcome cultural Jews, questioning Jews, secular Jews, and confused Jews.
Religion and spirituality are central parts of what we do, but we are not coercive in any way, and non-religious folks will find plenty of people like them at every Nehirim retreat. ¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†Religiously speaking, a Nehirim retreat is among the most Jewishly pluralistic places you’¬≠¬≠ll ever find: we have secular and cultural Jews, we have Orthodox Jews, including some Hasidim; we have conservative, Reform, and non-denominational Jews, we have Reconstructionist Jews, and Renewal Jews; we have Jews by choice, questioning Jews, and atheist Jews. We truly have Jews of all stripes and ethnicities, and a large number of multi-faith families whom we fully welcome and include.
In terms of our own religious practice, our retreats feature traditional davening (prayer) and learning, as well as alternative spiritual practices, such as meditation and yoga. Our workshops range from innovative panels on queer theory to beit midrash (traditional Jewish school) style of learning.¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†We are proud to have many queer Jews who are doing their first “Jewish thing”¬Ě in decades¬≠¬≠¬≠‚ÄĒand we are careful to translate and transliterate all the Hebrew we use.
What if I’m not Jewish?
First, Nehirim welcomes non-Jewish family members or partners of any retreat participant. ¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†Studies of the LGBT Jewish community shows that we have more multifaith families than the Jewish community in general, and Nehirim is fully welcoming and inclusive of such families (including couples, however defined).
Second, if you are in or exploring a conversion process, you are also very welcome to join us. ¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†Chances are, you will find other future- or potential- Jews by choice at our retreats. ¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†Definitely, you will find those who have made the choice already!
Third, if you identify as Jewish, you are very welcome to join us, even if that identification may not be recognized by all Jews (e.g. if your father but not your mother is Jewish). ¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†Nehirim does not have a halachic standard of Jewishness which participants must meet. ¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†If you identify as Jewish, that is good enough for us.
So what about everyone else? ¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†While Nehirim is a Jewish organization, there is no “test.” ¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†We do use first-person plural language (“we”) to talk about Jewish identity, and we do affirmatively make a default assumption that that identity is shared by most if not all retreat participants. ¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†It is a “Jewish retreat.” ¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†However, non-Jews are welcome to join our community, as long as this understanding of ‘Jewish space’ is maintained. ¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†As you may know, proselytizing to non-Jews is forbidden by Jewish law, and we respect that norm. ¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†However, if you feel yourself called to a Nehirim retreat, rest assured that you are welcome to join us, and that no one from Nehirim will treat you any differently from our other participants. ¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†Inclusion is what we are about!