Meet the Hakhel Advisors: Noa

Hakhel is an incubator for Jewish Intentional communities, and as such it provides members with a support package for three years. This support includes funding, training, networking, Israel trips, and the crown jewel: a personal professional advisor!

Hakhel advisors provide communities with cutting edge knowledge, vast experience, and insight into best practices in this work. Over the next few months, we’ll introduce some of Hakhel advisors. 

First up, meet Noa Asher-Berkeley from Sderot, Israel!

Hi! My name is Noa, and I live in Israel. I’m originally from a religious family, and now live as a proud secular Jew in the Migvan (literally “diversity”) community in Sderot. Migvan is an intentional community, an urban kibbutz, which runs a number of projects for young adults with disabilities.

Do you mean Sderot near the Gaza envelope? What brought you there? Or shall we ask, what keeps you there?

Noa: It might sound a bit naive, but it’s totally true. What keeps me here, in good and bad times, is my community. It’s the best energizer I could think of. And yes, intentional community is my passion, I can’t help it. That’s the way I choose to raise my children, and this also is what I bring to the communities I advise in the US. The communities I work with are ‘Challah and Babka’ (Kingston, ON), ‘Yitzmach’ (Cleveland, OH), ‘Harrisburg Tzibur’ (Harrisburg, PA), ‘Detropia’ (Detroit, MI), ‘Hevria’ (Brooklyn, NY), ’Havaya’ (Cincinnati, OH), and ‘YSFK’ (Atlanta, GA).  

Tell us what we don’t know about the challenging reality you live in. 

Noa: Well, we live in a war zone. We only have 15 seconds (!) to reach a bomb shelter once the alarm sounds. Before we go to bed we clear the path to the door of the shoes, clothes, and anything that we could trip over while running half asleep to the shelter. We always leave the window a little bit open to hear the alarm from outside. Our kids must be able to distinguish between the sounds of motorcycle, car starting, neighbors’ music, etc.

We are always ready: we always have a bag packed in the car in case things start escalating and we need to leave the area. We have a box of games and candy for the kids in case there’s an ongoing attack and we have to spend a lot of time locked inside the bomb shelter. We do not lock the door during flare-ups, because people walking down the street when a rocket sounds, will run through the door looking for safety. 

We [members of Migvan] always prefer to be together during hard times. Whether it is in Sderot or during difficult times when we are forced to evacuate with the children, we always find a place to stay together as a community, because for us it is the most stable anchor in our lives, and frankly, such powerful solidarity I would wish for everyone.

Despite everything, Sderot is the most amazing place on earth. There are special people here, and a sense of home that doesn’t exist anywhere else! And I would not exchange my house for another home in any city in the world.