When we think about Jewish community our minds usually zero in on a location where community meets- a synagogue, a JCC. But what if community were defined by common values instead- by the relentless pursuit of the holy and the just, and that in gathering around that pursuit anywhere at all, we establish a sacred community? This description gets at the heart of Mishkan.
The ancient Mishkan traveled with the Israelites through the desert and brought God’s presence into its midst whenever and wherever the people would set it up and bring the best of themselves– their hearts, their talents and treasures– to the project. Likewise, brought together by our belief that through music, prayer, study and tikkun (repair) we transform ourselves and the world, Mishkan convenes in unconventional spaces- yoga and art studios, living rooms, spiritual centers, backyards, and yes, synagogues, too- wherever people are gathered in holy intention. We partner with other community groups to further the holy work of spreading inspiration and love.
We’ll admit it: the Mishkan an unconventional kind of community, a cross-community community, designed to enhance the Jewish landscape in Chicago and create a new way in. We hope you find what you’re looking for.
MISHKAN’S CORE VALUES
These values lie at the center of our work and animate everything we do.
Inspiration. “Yehi Or- Let there be light.” Genesis 1:3. The first and most important purpose of our existence on earth, the Torah describes, is to create light. Mishkan strives to create an environment where each person can be moved, inspired, learn something, be challenged, taken on a journey, and brought to a higher emotional, spiritual, intellectual and moral place. Every event includes elements of Torah study, music and meaningful social encounter that build a greater sense of enlightenment, broadly construed, and every Shabbat and holiday event has something that participants can take home for further study.
Self-expression. “Ahalelah Yah b’hayai- I will praise The Source with my life.” Psalm 146. Practicing a living spiritual tradition means animating the words, forms and rituals created by our ancestors with each person’s own life experiences, passions, talents, loves. Too many religious experiences feel like we leave our deepest selves at the door when we walk in. At Mishkan we create containers for real self-expression through music, text, meditation, breath, and through creating a space that is comfortable enough for us to laugh, cry, dance, sing out, be silent, pray… whatever is real for each person. This is a safe space to be one’s self.
Radical Accessibility. Karov Yah l’kol korav- God is close to anyone to calls out. Psalm 145. Any person regardless of background is welcome and invited to find meaning, inspiration and community at Mishkan. The ancient Mishkan in the desert brought together the Israelites from across the spectrum of the community, and so do we: young, young-at-heart, total novices alongside people with different skills and abilities, LGBTQ Jews, people in interfaith relationships, Jews-by-Choice, from all denominational backgrounds, people who aren’t even Jewish. We believe everyone’s birthright is to connect in this way. We facilitate this by providing transliteration guides, by explaining rituals and translating Hebrew, even having community members sign at times when there’s a non-hearing person in the room.
Community/Kahal. Kol Yisrael arevim zeh ba’zeh- We are all responsible for one another. It is incumbent upon religious communities to foster connections between people, to support and develop one another on a 1:1 level, and on the level of wider community involvement. Mishkan fosters connections and collaborates with local synagogues, independent spiritual communities, social justice and service agencies and young adult initiatives in the city to build a greater sense of community among our participants with the wider Chicago Jewish community, all the while reinforcing the embracing nature of our little community, too.
Healing/Tikkun. L’taken Olam b’malkhut Shaddai- To repair the world according to God’s vision. We believe that to make religion matter, we must take the energy and inspiration we derive from our spiritual practice out to a world that desperately needs more light, more justice, more goodness, and more peace. Working with Avodah, JCUA, Hazon, AJWS and local community organizing groups, Mishkan is constantly working toward greater social justice, locally, nationally and globally.