By Joan Kurtz
My husband and I moved from New Hamsphire to western Massachusetts in April. Since then, I have been looking for a Jewish community. There are at least three synagogues within a half hour but none are secular. I have found, though, two interesting groups which might meet my expectations.
The first is called MA.-ASH. This stands for Massachusetts Atheists, Secularists and Humanists. They meet twice a month -- midweek for a happy hour at a local restaurant and the last Saturday of the month for either a guest presenter or a group discussion. The most recent meeting was attended by around 25 people. We discussed such diverse topics as spirituality, social activism, and the 12-step program for alcoholics. Attending were at least six secular Jews. Interesting and open-minded people.
The other group appears to be similar to a chavurah -- Jews without a synagogue who meet for various reasons. They held an outdoor service for Rosh Hashannah, ending with tashlich at a nearby stream. I attended a community sing where we sang Hebrew, Ladino and English songs, danced one Israeli folk dance and ended with a vegetarian potluck dinner. Again, people seem very nice and welcoming.
I enjoyed both groups, each with a different focus, but together they might satisfy my needs. I will continue to attend their events and see where it goes.