Pathways Melbourne is a local community organisation that supports Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox people who are questioning their Jewish lifestyle, practices or beliefs.
Through various events, programs and mentoring opportunities, the organisation supports participants (Pathfinders) to make positive life changes. They recently held a private Rosh Hashanah lunch, allowing Pathfinders to celebrate and reminisce in a comfortable and safe environment.
Pathways Melbourne CEO, Leah Boulton, said the event, which was hosted in the home of one of the Pathfinders, was a great success. “Some people have nowhere that they would feel comfortable to go to otherwise on the High Holy Days … it was lovely for them to feel a sense of connection and community,” she said.
Program coordinator Nonnie Kark organised the event and arranged a delicious kosher lunch. Around 15 Pathfinders were in attendance, with a mix of regulars and some who were coming for the first time.
It was a friendly gathering, with Pathfinders getting to know each other and sharing their personal experiences.
“There was a lot of shmoozing, catching up on how the year has been and enjoying a sense of togetherness,” said Boulton. “Once everyone had caught up and got comfortable, we went around the table asking, ‘What is a positive aspect from the current year that you want to take with you into the future?'”
The conversation was lively, with Pathfinders discussing the different plans and goals they wanted to continue in the new year.
*Elke, who grew up in the Adass Israel community was one of the Pathfinders in attendance.
She is a regular attendee at the group’s events and part of its PATH 4 LIFE Mentor Program.
“Navigating Rosh Hashanah and the other Jewish holidays can be challenging,” she said.
“I am still on a journey of self-discovery, trying to understand my connection to Judaism and what it means to me personally.
“Pathways has become my second family, providing me with a sense of community and support that had been missing in my life.
“I am able to be myself in a supportive environment and I am truly grateful for that.”
*Name changed for privacy.