It was raining hard the day of Rabbi Jenna Stein Turow’s welcome picnic at The Den Collective. After the rain subsided, 30 people showed up to Quincy Park in Arlington with food to bring the Gaithersburg native into the community.
“It was a perfect example of what The Den is,” said Turow.
Not exactly a synagogue, The Den is a community that works to build a network of Jews seeking to deepen their connection to Judaism by hiking, studying Torah and meditating together. It sees itself as “collaborative, experimental, transparent and radically welcoming.”
Turow joined The Den as a community rabbi in July, after leaving her position as senior Jewish educator at Michigan State University Hillel. She said The Den’s focus on authenticity drew her back from the Midwest.
“It’s really important to me to be able to be my full self while also being a rabbi,” she said.
Turow said a large part of her job is building personal connections.
“We build all of our programs from learning about what people want, as opposed to creating a program and hoping people will want to do it.”
Turow said her main goals at The Den are for community members to have a deepened sense of their Jewish identity, a sense of ownership over Jewish wisdom and texts and communal belonging.
“I’m hoping to just make more space for people who come from diverse backgrounds to build their community and their sense of belonging in the Jewish community.”