Devorah Buxbaum is a co-founder and co-director of the nonprofit The LEV Experience, which helps Jews become more deeply involved with Judaism. She’s also the director of its Metamorphosis program, which focuses on the empowerment of middle school-age Jewish girls. A mother of six, Buxbaum, 37, is a Silver Spring resident and married to Rabbi Shlomo Buxbaum, her LEV Experience co-director.
How did The LEV Experience get started?
It was actually a response to a need of people who asked us to start it. …They said that they really feel like we need something where people from all different backgrounds and different areas from the community can engage with something and really make Judaism meaningful in their own way, without necessarily belonging to a synagogue.
What kind of programming does The LEV Experience offer?
It’s a lot of classes on how relevant the wisdom of the Torah of the Bible is in our daily lives, and really to be able to access this portal, this incredible portal of wisdom that I think, for many people, feels archaic, ancient and out of date. We try to bring it in with modern day psychology and showing how it really all stems back to our very own book, our very own Torah. …So we offer many different classes, whether it be a class in Musar, which is a self-development course, or if it’s a class on Kabbalah, or if it’s a class on the power of the months and the energy that we can tap into.
We do a lot of bar and bat mitzvah training, where we teach the boys and the girls what that means to become a bar and bat mitzvah. … We empower them to recognize that it’s so much more than just a party.
What are some of the things the girls in your Metamorphosis program experience?
It’s a 90-day program that they sign up for, and the way that it works is that they get a beautiful box that’s delivered to their door, and inside of the box are a set of six challenges that we roll out over the course of the 90 days. … And each challenge helps them grow in … bravery, in courage, in positivity and in kindness. And through the challenges together, they all post their challenges to a WhatsApp group.
It’s quite magical to see how the girls literally can come from these shy, scared to make their first post and introduce themselves to each other, to becoming really confident and stretching themselves in many areas.
What most appealed to you about helping people engage with their Judaism?
I love people, and I just feel that the more people in the area that I was meeting, and the more disengaged with Judaism that they were, I felt that there’s so much that they’re lacking because they don’t realize how much Judaism can offer them in their daily lives, whether it be with their marriages, or their parenting styles, or their own self development, or just their own way of internalizing their emotions, every aspect of life. … And through the education that we offer, I believe that we are creating more empowered Jews, who then pass on the torch of Judaism to their children.
What does your Jewish identity mean to you?
My Jewish identity means everything to me. To me, without my Jewish identity, I think I would be completely lost. I wake up in the morning feeling like, first and foremost, I am a Jew. That is the first thing that I identify with. … I think of it as my invisible crown that I get to adorne myself with every morning.