In November 2022, in Recife (Brazil), Beit Midrash Zehut was founded, a Jewish study group made by and for young adults belonging to the local Jewish community. Periodically, the group of young adults meet to have a moment of musical tefillah, discussions, classes on Jewish content, and study of the week’s parshah using the Chumash Plaut, the Torah edition with modern commentaries published by UJR-AmLat.
The group’s idea is that every young person is encouraged to build their own vision of Judaism from the study of Jewish sources, with many insights and discussions on relevant topics today. “Zehut is a plural Jewish environment. We believe that each person in their uniqueness can enrich the beit midrash community, regardless of their level of knowledge or involvement with Judaism. Here, we build a meaningful Judaism for everyone!” says André Liberman, coordinator of educational projects at UJR-AmLat and a member of Recife’s Jewish community.
Beit Midrash Zehut is an initiative built by Zehut (a group of young adults from the Recife Jewish community linked to Tamar, the post-Tnua youth front of the reformist movement) and Gaavah (the Brazilian Jewish-LGBTQIA+ group linked to Instituto Brasil-Israel).
Ellen Kosminsky, 22, a member of the study group, wrote: “Beit Midrash Zehut was the first space within Judaism I met that made me feel 100% belonging. Until then, I didn’t know something that connected me so much with my religion and my origins and, at the same time, also embraced values of inclusion, respect and tolerance that are fundamental in my connection with God. In such a short time, I learned that interpreting the Torah is a skill that should not be restricted to scholars who dedicate their lives to this most honorable mission. But yes, this interpretation can (and should) also be done through what is most valuable within each of us: our divine essence. I’m learning that religion can (and should!) be questioned, thought about and reflected on, regardless of gender or degree of knowledge about Jewish sources. That’s being human. This is thinking. That’s being Jewish!”
UJR-AmLat is proud to contribute to the development of plural Jewish spaces that work creatively in creating progressive and meaningful Jewish experiences for all.