Haburah as a Jewish Pedagogy of Wellbeing
January 2023

Haburah as a Jewish Pedagogy of Wellbeing

Rabbi Dr. Meesh Hammer Kossoy
Director, Year Program
Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies
How the pedagogy of Haburot, a learning community, can increase individual and group wellbeing

At once deeply traditional and counter cultural, haburot is wellbeing practice that’s power rests in a sense of purpose, achievement, and fellowship. Over the last two thousand years, haburot have proven themselves as a timeless Jewish pedagogy. Diverse contemporary immersive learning settings can adapt this pedagogy by adopting elements from kabbalistic, hasidic, Mussar, and modern secular models. Students select intimate affinity groups with shared goals and resolve to take responsibility for their personal achievement. They create a group manifesto inspired by that of Rabbi Kalman Kalonimus Shapiro’s Bnei Machshavah Tovah, commit to a guiding goal and working together to achieve it. Regular meetings create a deep sense of belonging and fellowship, space for processing, accountability and mutual support. With the use of Haburot, a learning community can increase individual and group wellbeing by enhancing a sense of unity in diversity and personal and communal responsibility for learning and belonging.

Meesh is the Director of the Pardes Year Program, where she has been making her professional home since 1999. She taught Talmud and the Social Justice track, as well as other leadership roles. Originally from Washington, D.C., Meesh has a B.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University. Her dissertation explored the courageous manner in which the rabbis of the Talmud created a new criminal punishment system. In 2015, Meesh completed her studies at Beit Midrash Har’el and received ordination from Rabbi Herzl Hefter and Rabbi Daniel Sperber. Meesh is also a graduate of NATIV, Pardes, Midreshet Lindenbaum, Drisha, and ATID. She has received many fellowships including Lady Davis, National Foundation for Jewish Culture, Memorial Foundation, and ATID. She has also taught at NYU, Drisha, and Midreshet Lindenbaum, and written for ICJW. Despite having written her dissertation about criminal punishment in the Talmudic period, Meesh is known by her husband and three children as a lover of mercy and kindness.


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