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Havruta is an ancient Jewish practice where two partners interpret the meaning of a biblical text in a dialogue with one another. The root meaning of the Aramaic word havruta is "friend." Simply stated, havruta is the Jewish practice of befriending—befriending the other, oneself, and the text in a process of attentive dialogue (or "trialogue"). So what are Protestant clergy and lay leaders from the Boston area doing with havruta?
Havruta is not intended to be another opportunity for skill development or organizational strategizing. It’s an intrinsic practice, something we do for its own sake, like friendship. We befriend the text and one another in a living dialogue of faith. And, as with a good friendship, in the process we find ourselves refreshed and enlivened in ways that defy explanation.
The promise of havruta is that it provides a practice that is spiritually sustaining for clergy and laity who together are transformed into a community of interpretation. If the church is God’s way of saying we’re not alone, havruta is a way of being the church.
To read more about Havruta at First Church Cambridge, please see the article in Congregations Magazine, published by the Alban Institute.
For a visual depiction of the havruta learning, please click the image below. For this depiction we are indebted to the work of Dr. Orit Kent at The Beit Midrash Research Project of the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, Brandeis University. For an analysis of three core practices in havruta learning, see Orit Kent, “A Theory of Havruta Learning”.
Havruta Learning Documents: