What is Kavod?
Kavod is a community led by young Jews in Greater Boston, committed to each other and to building a liberated world for all people. We live out our values through vibrant Jewish ritual, transformative social justice organizing, and collective responsibility.
Our name comes from Pirkei Avot, where it says, “Who receives honor/kavod? The one who treats all beings with kavod.” (Pirkei Avot 4:1) At the Kavod, we seek to treat all with honor, recognizing the unique talents each person has to share.
Cooperative & Collective Ownership: Our community’s vision and practice is cooperatively and collectively generated and owned by our members. We are committed to holding each other accountable for creating a community that reflects our values.
Vibrant Jewish Practice: Vibrant and creative Jewish practice is central to our community. We embrace the variety of ways our members express Judaism and spirituality.
Living out our Justice Values: We center our intersectional justice values in our communal culture, our activism and organizing, and in the stewardship and distribution of our resources. We are committed to creating and holding space for challenging and dynamic conversations and engagement.
Rooted in Relationships: We show up for one another in times of joy and hardship, and nurture a feeling of belonging among our members. We cultivate deep and sustainable relationships with Jewish and non-Jewish partner organizations across Greater Boston and nationally.
Generational: We prioritize and honor young adult leadership. We actively encourage our members to remain engaged in our community as they age.
Homey Space: Our home base is a welcoming, cozy, consistent, and predictable space that feels like ours. We work creatively and flexibly to meet the needs of our members across Greater Boston.
Transformational Leadership Development: We support our members in cultivating tools, skills, and insights for effective and meaningful participation, engagement, and leadership in our community and beyond.
Sustainable Leadership: Our community thrives because of the unique talents and potential of our members. We support our members by valuing all contributions to our community and by respecting our capacity and limits.
Who we are
Kavod is powered by our community. We believe that we all have the knowledge and power to build meaningful communal life.
Our Coordinating Team
The Kavod Coordinating Team (CT) oversees organizational operations including membership, communications, finance, and development. The Coordinating Team also guides the community in leadership development, visioning and makes policy decisions in order to ensure that we operate in a way that reflects our shared values and priorities. The CT consists of fourteen members.
Our 2018-2019 Coordinating Team consists of the following leaders:
People Support – Sarah Langer
Sarah grew up outside of Boston and returned here straight after college. After teaching high school math and coaching new math teachers in Boston for 11 years, she is now teaching math at the Jewish Community Day School in Watertown. At Kavod, Sarah got her start leading some social justice teams and is now in her third year on the Board/Coordinating Team. She is constantly grateful for all she is learning from this community and its members. Outside of Kavod and work, she enjoys cooking, reading, and various borderline absurd fitness activities. Send an email.
People Support – Talie Lewis
Talie grew up in Philadelphia, experiencing lots of Jewish community along the way. She moved to Boston in 2014 after finishing medical school in Beersheva, Israel and has spent the last 3 years completing her family medicine residency. She just began a 1 year fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine and is excited to pursue one of the more team-oriented and value-driven fields of medicine. She is also excited to be thinking more about how best to support leaders in the Kavod community. She enjoys making omelets, writing Haikus and listening to and talking about the podcast On Being. Send an email.
Strategy Chair – Leah Varsano
Leah is a proud native of Western Massachusetts. As a Kavodnik she’s been active with the GBIO and Racial Justice teams (and helped coordinate carpools for the Retreat one year!). Before moving to Boston, Leah worked as a neighborhood organizer in New Orleans and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. She holds a master’s degree from Brandeis University in Sustainable International Development. Feel free to ask her opinion on language learning apps, knitting styles, and what book you should read next. By day she works on domestic poverty and labor issues with Oxfam America. Send an email.
Finance Chair – Nora Paul-Schultz
Nora (she/her) spends her days as a high school Physics teacher at the O’Bryant School in Boston. She spends her time telling corny physics jokes and helping students build robots among other things. Additionally, she is a member of Unafraid Educators, the Boston Teachers’ Union Immigrate Rights Committee. When she is not at school, she can often be found walking around the pond or playing the trombone with School of Honk. She also enjoys knitting, reading, baking bread and weaving. At Kavod, she is one of the liaisons to the JP/West Roxbury Sanctuary Cluster. She is excited to be back in her role as Finance Chair for a third year. Send an email.
Arevut Chair – Devra Goldstein
Bio coming soon! Send an email.
Development Co-Chair – Aidan Orly
Aidan is originally from southern Connecticut but spent the last several years in California and Jerusalem. Passionate about reclaiming his Israeli and Jewish identities for environmental justice, Aidan has organized primarily on urban farms, and in multiracial and multifaith communities in the US and Palestine. Aidan is excited about building radical community at Kavod, while dancing a lot. Send an email.
Development Co-Chair – Mikaela Zetley
Mikaela grew up in Milwaukee, but has made Boston (and Kavod) her home since 2016. She spends her weekdays as a teacher in the Boston Public Schools in East Boston, where she teaches 6th grade math to students with diverse learning needs. She holds a B.S. in Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University, where she also led the Development Team and sat on the Board of Directors at Northwestern Hillel. She is excited to develop and grow through her service as the Development Chair at Kavod. She enjoys making elaborate meals to share, walking around Jamaica Pond, singing loudly, and practicing yoga. Send an email.
Digital Messaging and Strategy Chair – Emily Glick
Bio coming soon! Send an email.
Major Community Gatherings Chair – Aron Wander
Aron spends most of his free time wandering around used book stores, reading about Judaism, and thinking about Kavod. Originally from New York City, he moved to Boston in 2017 to work full-time as an organizer. After two amazing years in Boston, he’s soon moving back to NYC to begin rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Send an email.
Membership Chair – Aviva Herr-Welber
Aviva was born and raised in San Anselmo, California. She recently graduated from Tufts University, where she studied Education and Middle East studies and first discovered her love for community organizing. While serving as a resident organizer at Kavod, Aviva will also be working in the refugee services department of Boston’s Jewish vocational service as an Americorps member. She is excited to bring her passion for Jewish ritual, relationship building, and justice work to the Kavod community which has already given her so much! Things that make Aviva feel joyful include baking challah, speaking Arabic, studying feminist theology, singing in community, and drinking coconut milkshakes. Send an email.
Operations – Jeremy Taylor
Jeremy is originally from Teaneck, New Jersey, moved westward with family to Spokane, Washington, and went to college in Asheville, North Carolina. He found his way to Boston about three years ago searching for vibrant community and has been an active member of Kavod ever since. When not supporting the logistics and capacity of our powerful social justice organizing and ritual programming, you can find Jeremy on his bike, throwing a Frisbee, or organizing and keeping track of Kavod’s stuff.
Partnerships Chair – Nadav David
Nadav David (he/him) is a multiethnic Arab (Mizrahi) and Ashkenazi Jewish organizer with roots in Baghdad, Poland, Jerusalem and the Bay Area. He is deeply invested in building powerful, connected communities in pursuit of racial and economic justice. As a financial coach at Compass Working Capital, Nadav supports families living in subsidized housing as they build assets and reach personal and financial goals. His primary political and spiritual home is Kavod, where he builds and deepens relationships with other grassroots organizations, such as the Boston Ujima Project and Muslim Justice League. Nadav also co-facilitates Kavod’s Jews of Color, Indigenous Jews, Sephardim and Mizrahim Caucus and is one of the leaders of the Exploring Masculinities Group.
Rosh Spirituality – Ida Assefa
Bio coming soon! Send an email.
Social Justice Chair – Simona Lang
Simona first joined Kavod in 2010 and although she left Massachusetts for a number of years, Kavod’s sense of community and focus on combining Jewish tradition and practice with active justice work ultimately drew her back to Boston. She works as an infectious disease epidemiologist at the MA Department of Public Health, investigating outbreaks and sneaking picnic lunches in the Arboretum. In between juggling deep commitments to local activism and baking as many sweet treats as possible, Simona enjoys reading, dancing, hiking, crafting, spending time with friends, and dismantling white supremacy and the capitalist cisheteropatriarchy. Send an email.
Everyone at Kavod is encouraged to take ownership of the community in their own way. Volunteers from the community make everything we do happen. Anyone is invited to participate in the community and to take on volunteer and leadership roles in whatever way they choose. In addition, making a financial contribution to Kavod to officially become a member is an important part of how we sustain ourselves. You can learn a lot more about that here.
History of Kavod
A light-hearted history of the Kavod in verse, based on an interview with Rabbi Margie Klein Ronkin, written and read by Sam Dreyfus at the 2014 Community Retreat
There was a young organizer named Margie Klein
who devoted her mind and her hands and her time
to changing the world in directions progressive
and whose talents and skill were always quite impressive.
In 2004 after months of great stress
spent to win an election, she felt quite depressed–
We lefties were beaten by the strengths of the Right
and Margie wanted to know how to rework the fight.
Meanwhile, her friend Joe was devising a plot:
Lefties need homes, he declared, that could work like Chabad.
At Jews in the Woods, Margie, Joe, and some friends
stayed up all night dreaming a way they could spend
the wealth of a funder to make the plot real–
they’d build a home for young Jews who were ready to deal
with the world’s jagged edges, who were ready to struggle
and who needed a place to learn, grow, and to snuggle.
The vision they had was one of a home
that would open the walls of the world they had known:
Young Jews would be fighters for justice, and shake
the establishment organizations awake
With a model of vibrant community, thriving
with justice and love as the core forces driving
a rebirth of Jewish life for young and old:
They thrilled with the thrill of a vision unfolding.
Then: Margie got a grant to study for the rabbinate!
She moved up to Boston and found herself quite without
the community she thought she would have to get started
and so she set up a plan to build a strong beating heart
for the home that she now was committed to building.
Her plan was ambitious and scheduled and grueling:
she sought out the young Jews, the queer ones, the artsy,
went to every event, always asked out to coffee
Anyone who might want to take part in the project.
After one month in town, she gathered two dozen
young Jews who were hungry for what she was baking!
Starting with Shabbat dinners, they then began making
monthly meetings with themes, then campaigns with core leaders
then built up teams, and with startling speed, they
joined GBIO’s fight for health care and people’s power,
and got funding from Moishe House. The community flowered
with leaders ready to build and with funders intrigued.
Margie’s vision wasn’t just in her head now: the league
of leaders planned a retreat that was quite a lot like this
and the folks who showed up liked it, but said transparency was missing!
How did this whole thing work? They started to build structures
of membership, Board, thinking hard of the future
and how they would make the house comprehensible
as a strong organization for folks thinking intentionally.
Each month new teams formed: Housing Justice! Recruitment!
Each year new ideas were hatched, tried, tested, and improved on.
Today we are bigger than ever, and growing
and with the work we all do, there is no way of knowing
What we will do next, but one thing is certain:
This community’s shaped by those who take part in
the work of leadership, in all of its forms.
Our future is ours to shape. Friends, this is your home.
What to Expect When You Come to a Kavod Program
We would love you to welcome you to the Kavod community. Please join us for any of the events on the calendar, including Shabbat services and potluck dinner, team planning meetings, and other community events. If you want to keep up to date with what’s going on, subscribe to our Newsletter.
Accessibility and Inclusion
One of the values here at Kavod is ensuring to the best of our ability that our shared spaces are inclusive. If there is something we can do to make your experience at a Kavod event or meeting more accessible, please email the Accessibility Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inclusivity is an important value that guides our food choices at Kavod. All food served at Kavod events in vegetarian. Not all food is hechsher kosher, but we do our best to provide a hechsher kosher option. We will always provide a hechsher kosher option if you RSVP and let us know you’d like one.
In addition to thinking about inclusivity when it comes to food, our community has been working hard to develop guidelines about how to purchase food ethically and consistently with our progressive values.
About Shabbat Services and Potluck Dinners at Kavod
On the first Friday of every month, we hold Shabbat services and potluck dinner at the various physically accessible locations mostly around JP (email us at email@example.com for the location or check the calendar).
Services begin at 6:30 and the potluck dinner starts around 8:00. Services are egalitarian, community-led, and song-filled. Attendance ranges from around 30 to 70 people. The potluck dinner is vegetarian meal that has both hechsher kosher and non-hechsher kosher offerings. Please bring a dinner item, such as salad, main course, drink, or dessert.
Please check the calendar to confirm. During some holidays, services and potluck dinners are not held.
For more information, check out our Guide to Visiting Kavod for Shabbat. If you have any questions or would like to be in touch with a community member before coming to services, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Other Activities at MKH
Our calendar is full with team meetings, social events, opportunities for learning and engagement in social justice work. Some activities have a handful of people, and others have dozens. If you want to know more about what to expect, you can contact the event host listed on the calendar. New folks are welcome at every event on the calendar (except CT meetings) and unless the event otherwise specifies, you don’t even need to RSVP. If you’re new (or just want to), you can email the contact person for the event to let them know you’re coming and ask any questions you want to feel more comfortable when you arrive.