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Jews in the Bayou

Fruity Jews in the Woods, or just plains Jews in the Woods, is the name of a community which is getting larger, that meets and organizes collectively over the internet via a listserve and wiki, and gathers together once or twice a year for Shabbat at a rural retreat of some sort. The values of the community are pluralistic and creative, egalitarian and traditional, ecological and vegetarian, and unabashedly spiritual. A friend of mine named Sherri Vishner, from the DC Beit Midrash introduced me to them and I’ve been to two of the gatherings and I’ve basically felt they were homecomings. Even as by now I’ve grown somewhat cynical regarding prayer and spirituality in general, I welcome the challenge to see things differently and try out new directions. But mostly, it’s been an opportunity to meet some of the most interesting Jews on the East Coast. I’ll be missing the gathering currently being planned for February which will be taking place somewhere in upstate New York.

I mention this because Shabbat is arriving here in Baton Rouge in a few hours and through my fruity Jewish contacts, I’ve already found some Jews in the Bayou here, vegetarians who know as much about the local Jewish scene as the local Bollywood scene in New Orleans (thanks Yonah and Bev). So in a few hours I’ll be in downtown Baton Rouge where the energy of this place is, and exploring it in earnest. Have a peaceful and restful shabbes everyone!

About Aharon N. Varady


Aharon's Omphalos is the hobbit hole of Aharon Varady, founding director of the Open Siddur Project. He is a community planner and environmental educator working to improve stewardship of the Public Domain, be it the physical and natural commons of urban park systems or the creative and cultural commons of libraries and museums. His advocacy for open-source strategies in the Jewish community has been written about in the Atlantic Magazine, the Yiddish Forverts, Tablet, and Haaretz. He is particularly interested in pedagogies for advancing ecological wisdom, developing creative and emotional intelligence, and realizing effective theurgical praxes . He welcomes your comments, personal messages, and kind words. If you find his work helpful to your own or you'd simply like to support him, please consider donating via his Patreon account.

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