The Ten Best-Kept Jewish Secrets. A pretty catchy theme, right? After all, who wouldn’t want to know what these secrets are and how they can bring meaning to our lives?

But our theme isn’t just a catchy title drummed up for marketing; the planning committee chose it because we believe the topics we will learn about together have the potential to open up worlds of discovery.

If this all seems a little over-the-top, let’s take a step back.

We in Boston are privileged to have one of the most vibrant and active Jewish communities in the world. Young adults are actively involved in shaping the future of this community, and as proof, there are 70 organizations and groups that comprise Boston’s Young Jewish Leaders Council. We understand that Jewish life is meant to be lived and explored with others, and that’s exactly what Eser offers, combining substance and authenticity with community.

Eser brings together Jews of all backgrounds and experiences who want to learn with – and from – each other. Starting in February, cohorts will gather in homes once a week for 10 weeks and learn, as this year’s theme indicates, about the best-kept secrets in Judaism, unpacking myths and finding out about some of our biggest misconceptions about Judaism, Jewish law and Jewish tradition.

It can often seem difficult to make time for yourself and to remember to feed your Jewish soul. Between crazy work schedules, spending quality time with family and friends, volunteer positions, sports, and other activities, that space for Jewish exploration can get lost.

Eser’s co-chair Becky Price said it best when she said Eser is her gift to herself. For all of us who have participated in years past and will do so again this year, Eser provides a set amount of time that we are promising ourselves to actively engage with our Jewish selves: to think, to question and to learn – and re-learn – what it is that makes Judaism come alive for us.

So this Chanukah, I urge you to give yourself the gift of Eser. Chanukah and chinuch, the Hebrew word for education, share the same Hebrew root, and Eser is a great way to continue your own Jewish education and to take part in shaping the future of our community.

If you’re still a bit unsure, join us for a Sip of Eser on Tuesday, December 10th at 7pm at John Harvard’s Brew House in Harvard Square. It’s a chance to mingle and make new friends, to meet some of the rabbis and facilitators who will lead the sessions, and to get a “sip” of a sample session.

created at: 2013-11-25Matt Cohen is a coordinator of executive programs at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is a member of the Eser planning committee and will be a leader of the Monday night group that meets in Cambridge. You can reach him by email at

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