About Mekom Torah
Mekom Torah is a pioneering Jewish learning project founded in 2008 by Rabbi Helen Plotkin, in collaboration with Congregation Beth Israel of Media, PA, Congregation Ohev Shalom of Wallingford, PA, and Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. It is built around a radically ancient vision of Jewish learning: Participation in learning is not a preparation for Jewish life, it is Jewish life.
The goal of Mekom Torah is to offer high quality Jewish study opportunities for adults and young people that transcend the boundaries of the various Jewish movements and that work to strengthen congregational life in our synagogues and Jewish life in our homes. Study groups are open to all members of the community, whether or not they are members of the collaborating synagogues.
Judaism as a culture of learning allows Mekom Torah to offer an alternative to the entry points of prayer, piety, or practice, creating new pathways to Jewish identity for the unaffiliated and new opportunities for inter-denominational contact
Since Mekom Torah is fiscally sponsored, it has an Advisory Board instead of a Board of Directors. The members of the Advisory Board are:
About the name
"Mekom Torah" is pronounced like this: McCOMB toe-RAH!
It means "A Place of Torah." In Hebrew, it's מְקוֹם תּוֹרָה.
The name comes from a passage in the ancient text Pirkei Avot (The Ethics of the Fathers), Chapter 6 Mishna 9:
Rabbi Yosi ben Kisma said:
Like Rabbi Yosi, we want to live in a place of Torah. But what makes someplace a mekom Torah? In some traditional Jewish communities, the phrase has come to be associated with a place that has a kosher butcher, a ritual bath, and a daily minyan.
We are using the phrase in a different sense. For us, a mekom Torah is a place where people engage with Jewish learning in a way that is connected to their real lives. Through our work with Mekom Torah, we hope to transform Jewish identities, to make our neighborhoods into destinations with a reputation for thriving Jewish life, to make our area truly a place of Torah.
For Grammar Nerds Only:
Question: Isn't the Hebrew word for "place" makom? Did we spell it wrong?!
Answer: When it is combined with another word, to mean "a place of," makom becomes mekom. (Actually, m'kom would match the Hebrew pronunciation even more precisely, but that is too hard to spell on the internet.) We say that the words mekom and Torah are in s'michut - they are leaning against each other. When this happens in Hebrew, the first word in the pair squishes up a little, into what is called "construct form." Here is another example of s'michut : The Hebrew word for "house" is bayit. The construct form for bayit is beit. Thus Beit Yisrael means "The House of Israel."
Our beautiful page header is an original painting by Rabbi Me'irah Iliinsky. See more of her work at Verses Illuminated.