Bina Community Circles is a new spiritual project fostering Jewish personal flourishing and communal change through deep relationship-building circles.
It can feel like attending synagogue is the only way to belong in Jewish community. Many people aren't interested in traditional prayer services, yet still want to experience deep, supportive, and meaningful Jewish community. Bina Community Circles provides another powerful entry point.
Each community circle is a 8-week cohort, learning Jewish wisdom, sharing food and drink, building new connections, and supporting each other's growth. The focus is as much on the Jewish content as it is on the relationships formed. Through the many circles, we form larger community.
Bina Community Circles is designed around the values of inclusion and empowerment. We embrace participants’ gender identities and sexual orientations, family structures, racial and ethnic identities, Jewish status and interfaith backgrounds. And we design Jewish experiences to affirm that each participant has wisdom to share, expertise to contribute, and care to give.
Our name is based on the Hebrew word bina, which means wisdom and understanding. In Jewish mysticism, the Divine aspect of bina is connected with the source of life and the home to which we return. With Bina Community Circles, we hope to (re)connect ourselves to our Source and to find our home in Judaism and Jewish community.
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Meet one-on-one with Rabbi Julia for spiritual mentorship, Jewish exploration, and meaning-making.
Join a 8 week community circle, learning Jewish wisdom, sharing food and drink, building new connections, and supporting each other's growth.
Explore Jewish life and tradition in stand-alone Jewish experiences, from meditation to celebration.
Rabbi Julia Appel is the Founding Director and Rabbi of Bina Community Circles. A non-denominational community rabbi, Rabbi Julia is known for creating open, welcoming Jewish spaces for exploration and empowerment. Rabbi Julia is passionate about creating Jewish community that meets the challenges of the 21st century – in which Jewish identity is a choice, not an obligation. She excels in creating relational cohorts and building community that embraces diversity.
Rabbi Julia most recently served as the Senior Jewish Educator and Campus Rabbi of Hillel at the University of Toronto. She also was an Adjunct Faculty member with Clal, teaching its online “Leadership Through Innovation” course for rabbinical students across denominational lines. Previously, she was Assistant Rabbi of Congregation Dorshei Emet and Outreach Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom, both in Montreal, and Jewish Educator of MIT Hillel in Boston. A frequent columnist for the Canadian Jewish News, the largest Jewish newspaper in Canada, she serves on the Executive Committee of the Toronto Board of Rabbis. She holds a B.A. in Social Studies, Magna Cum Laude, from Harvard University, 2004, and a M.A. in Jewish Studies and rabbinic ordination from Hebrew College, 2011. Rabbi Julia lives with her family in downtown Toronto.