Although Israel is known for its strong traditional communities, Israel’s Jewish spiritual communities are as diverse in their practices and approaches as are the Jewish communities of America. When coming on private tours in Israel, many families hail from progressive home congregations and may feel more comfortable in an egalitarian prayer setting, with or without Mechitza.
Here is a short guide to some of the most well-known and respected alternative Jewish prayer options for your Bar/Bat Mitzvah tour Israel, focusing on those options in the North and South of Israel. For those interested in alternative prayer options inside Jerusalem, check out Part 1 of this blog.
Also stay tuned for Part 3, which will continue with the listing we’ve begun here…
South/ Arava Region
On the Arava Highway (90), an hour before you reach Eilat, you will find 3 kibbutzim with a pioneering and innovative approach to Jewish spirituality.
Kibbutz Ketura was founded in 1973 by the graduates of the independent Young Judaea Zionist youth movement, with connections to the Hadassah Women’s Zionist organization.
Initially primarily agricultural, Kibbutz Ketura’s economic base has diversified to include tourism (guest houses), groundbreaking green technology, and hosts the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES) affiliated with Ben Gurion University.
Prayer services at Ketura are completely egalitarian with full participation of women, without belonging to any religious stream or movement. Shabbat is observed in the public sphere, but members and visitors are free to practice (or not) as they choose.
Kibbutz Yahel and Kibbutz Lotan
Graduates of the Reform Movement’s youth groups founded 2 kibbutzim close to Ketura and also close to each other. Kibbutz Yahel was founded in 1977 and Kibbutz Lotan in 1983 (by later graduates and members of Yahel). The kibbutzim specialize in innovative agriculture and eco-tourism.
Prayer services at Kibbutz Yahel are Reform-Egalitarian, in a manner familiar to Conservative and Reform customs. Kibbutz Lotan sets a more spiritual Neo-Hassidic Renewal-style tone in terms of prayers, dress and tone.
Two settlements in the Western Galilee are affiliated with the Masorti movement. Kibbutz Hannaton (near Yoqneam and Tzomet Hamovil) was founded initially as an agricultural settlement in 1983 by graduates of the Conservative youth movements and later expanded to feature a guest house, educational center and pre-military academy (mechina)
Moshav Shorashim (north of Hannaton on route 784 towards Carmiel) is an established community that later affiliated with the Masorti movement and is known for its involvement in high tech projects (such as bug zappers and the first technical writing school).
Both Kibbutz Hannaton and Moshav Shorashim offer egalitarian prayer services and are expanding to include newcomers.
We at Dekel Tours know how important it is to have an authentic and personally meaningful family trip to Israel whether you are touring Israel with Luxury day tours or have a Bat/ Bar Mitzvah tour Israel. Your coming-of-age event should be planned in such in a way that resonates with your unique expression of Judaism.
We hope you found in Parts 1 and 2 of this blog some interesting resources to help you along your journey. However, if you’re looking for something specific that’s not on the list, please let us know! Part 3 of this blog will be coming out soon, and it is our fun and privilege at Dekel Tours to help you find just the right Jewish options for your family trips to Israel.