MaTovu plans ‘3 Occasions: Open Walls’

MaTovu is a new Jewish center located in a former synagogue building in the Botanical Heights neighborhood in south St. Louis. Photos: Eric Berger

MaTovu continues its mission to enrich the community’s spiritual, cultural and social life by announcing “3 Occasions: Open Walls.” In 2019 MaTovu was awarded a Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom to develop “3 Occasions,” a series of programs that harnesses the power of ritual and spiritual teachings implicit in Judaism’s three pilgrimage holidays to help increase civic engagement and advance regional progress in the St. Louis metro region and beyond. 

“Open Walls” will be the first event and celebrates Sukkot, a Jewish holiday honoring a space to welcome all people, past and present, to build stronger, wider communities. MaTovu has hired Dr. Koach Baruch Frazier, a student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, to serve as its  rabbinical fellow for the three programs.

For “Open Walls,” MaTovu will be building a Sukkah at the Transgender Memorial Garden, 1469 S. Vandeventer Ave., from Oct. 13-19. 

The following organizations will work with MaTovu to put on programs in the sukkah open to the entire community:

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• Sukkah building and cookout with Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG) and Justice Fleet (Sunday, Oct. 13, 3 p.m.);

• Food pilgrimage and communal meal with Central Reform Congregation, Potbangerz, Justice Fleet, and Congregation Shaare Emeth (Monday, Oct. 14, 6:30 p.m.);

• Immigration conversation with Interfaith Coalition of Latin America and Bend the Arc (Wednesday Oct. 16, 6:30 p.m.);

• InPowered Meditation by Culture Wise (Thursday Oct. 17, 6 p.m.);

• Discussion with Queer/Trans People of Color (QTPOC) on the wellbeing of QTPOC folks in St. Louis (Oct. 17, 7 p.m.)

• Niggun (wordless melody) Shabbat lead by Ashreinu, a local independent minyan, and Baruch Frazier (Friday, Oct. 18, 6:30 p.m.).

In the event of rain, all events will be at MaTovu, 4200 Blaine Ave.

“At its core, the ‘3 Occasions’ program is an extension of this broader mission of MaTovu,” said MaTovu board member Russel Neiss. “We believe that the mix of cultural, spiritual and educational programs that we host offer wide-ranging, eye-opening, and accessible experiences to inspire more meaningful and fulfilling lives. We know that there are many in our community who crave opportunities to engage with Jewish values, ideas, and traditions on their own terms and without judgment, and we are unapologetic about hosting experiences that will only add to the richness and depth of the St. Louis Jewish experience.”

In 2020, MaTovu will host Open Table (Passover) and Open Spirit (Shavuot) programming.