Judaism Unbound Episode 106: Cohere - Ari Moffic

Dan and Lex are joined by Ari Moffic, Founder of Cohere, a Chicago-area organization that brings customized Jewish educational experiences into people's homes, along with other outside-the-box (and outside-the-synagogue) locations. Their conversation addresses why so many people do not feel comfortable in synagogue settings but still crave forms of Jewish life. They also re-visit the topic of interfaith families, which has arisen in many past episodes, and they ask what the idea of "Jewish community" really means.

Image Credit: ELI Talks

Image Credit: ELI Talks

(0:01 - 14:08): Moffic begins the episode by discussing the origins of CoHere. [1] She describes her work providing an outside-the-box form of Jewish education to families who are not affiliated with a synagogue. She also considers a few of the reasons that these families are not looking to join a traditional congregation, and why, despite that, they are still interested in pursuing Jewish life in a creative way. [2]

(14:09 - 29:48): The setting of CoHere, in people's homes, is an important element of its organizational model. Moffic outlines why she chose to create an organization that "comes to you," instead of asking participants to come to her. With Dan and Lex, she examines the name CoHere, and what it connotes to those who participate in its programming. Shifting gears a bit, she then explores the work she has done to engage interfaith families, highlighting her work at the Chicago Interfaith Family School [3] (listeners may remember this school, which was mentioned in Judaism Unbound's conversation with guest Susan Katz Miller). [4]

(29:49 - 46:52): Moffic shines a light on the ways in which Jewish education can sometimes feel "anthropological" -- as if there is this interesting group called the Jews, whose rituals we learn about, even though so many Jews don't actually practice those rituals on a regular basis. She asks whether we could re-think this tendency, and start to define Judaism not so much by what Jews think they are "supposed" to do, but by how Jews actually live. She highlights B Mitzvahs as a key moment that perpetuates this problem, since most B Mitzvahs revolve around a Saturday morning service, despite the fact that many kids experiencing this life cycle event (and their parents) do not actually attend Saturday morning services. To close the episode, Moffic reflects on the idea of "community" [5] -- what it is, what it isn't, and how some Jewish institutions may misunderstand what it signifies. [6]

[1] Learn more about CoHere by clicking...(co)...here (Sorry...Judaism Unbound can't resist a good pun). Learn more about Ari Moffic by clicking here.

[2] Moffic mentions her past role at Interfaith Family / Chicago as an important experience shaping her work today. Learn more about Interfaith Family by visiting its website.

[3] Explore the work that the Chicago Interfaith Family School does by clicking here.

[4] To hear more about religious educational options that engage children in learning about both Christianity and Judaism, listen to Episode 73: Being Both - Susan Katz Miller.

[5] Watch Moffic's ELI Talk by clicking the video below.


[6] Ari Moffic and Evan Moffic are the first husband-wife duo to appear as guests on Judaism Unbound! Listen to Episode 82: The Happiness Prayer - Evan Moffic to hear from another member of the Moffic family!