When Rabbi Heather Miller founded Keeping It Sacred (KITS) two years ago, she envisioned an inclusive community that focused on Jewish learning, ritual and justice.
Rabbi Miller, who grew up in an interfaith family, also saw the community as a tribute to her grandmother, Kit, who fled the pogroms in Russia and lived to be 100. “Her story is one of resilience, and we’re drawing on this,” she said.
Now the community extends across seven time zones via online classes and programs. “It’s wonderful to connect,” Rabbi Miller said. “It feels natural to do so online, especially since the pandemic began.”
As its website explains, “KITS is a center for the exploration of texts and rituals that are accessible, relevant and empowering. Our mission is to inspire bold, joyful, meaningful living. We nurture curiosity, deepen compassion, and inspire personal and collective action to bring more light, more justice, more love and more joy to our world.”
“Learning comes from where you are,” explained Rabbi Miller, a Reform rabbi for 13 years and a student of Mishnah since 1992. “It has to be accessible. Everything is explained and framed but not in a pediatric way. I want everybody to get something out of it.”
Rabbi Miller believes that the questions of ethical living today are answered with clarity in Jewish sacred texts. These values guide our actions.
The learning component is diverse and inclusive. A program called Access Judaism consists of 16 classes on Jewish philosophy, theology, history and culture. Daily Daf Yomi gives learners a chance to read and comment on a page of Talmud every day. There is also a review of the weekly Torah portion with a discussion of ethical dilemmas.
A seven-episode web series on YouTube and Spotify highlights diverse Jewish people. Camp Queerantine, an online summer camp, integrates gender identity with the religious community.
“A Bit About,” a web series from Keeping It Sacred, explores a bit about various holy days in the Jewish tradition.
“Whether you’re new to Judaism or have been celebrating these holy days for years, these episodes are designed to be accessible, relevant and empowering,” Rabbi Miller said. There are all the rituals–High Holy Days, Hanukkah, Passover, weddings, B’nai Mitzvah and other Jewish celebrations.
The justice component is about affirming human dignity and interfaith dialogue. KITS attempts to raise awareness, heal and repair brokenness. According to the website, “We strive to create a more whole, just, and compassionate world, guided by the Jewish principle of Tikkun Olam or ‘repair of the world.’ We work toward racial, economic and environmental justice through a trauma-informed lens, and are accountable to a radically inclusive ethic.”
Rabbi Miller has found it gratifying to build the KITS community.
“We have a healing circle before Talmud study, which is a great way to bond the community, and we provide a sacred space for a wide variety of people.”
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (818) 312-8388.
Ilene Schneider is a contributing writer to JlIfe magazine.