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Welcome to Wisdom Cafe

The Aish Wisdom Cafe is a convener space for Jewish people to engage in meaningful conversations around topics that are relevant to the modern Jewish person. Wisdom cafe will feature great speakers that will spark conversation, fantastic music, and of course a great cup of coffee. Check this page regularly for Wisdom CAfe updates and for our launch in summer of 2023

Our Story

In the spring and summer of 2009, Aish Hatorah embarked on a building campaign that represented the newest thinking about what a Jewish communal building should look like. We built a synagogue for modern times. The entire design process relied on a study by Jack Wertheimer, the famous Jewish sociologist, as our playbook for the building. The building was small, only 5,000 sq ft.; easy and inexpensive to open for any size gathering. The crown jewel of the building was the kitchen and bathrooms; they are modern, like you would find in your home. The children’s area was open and central, not down a long hallway far from the Services. The sanctuary is a cozy space full of light and warmth.  

That was 15 years ago. Today’s Jewish building is not a synagogue but a “convener”- a space for the community to gather and enjoy Jewish thought and society. It is a shared space that is accessible to all and highly functional. A synagogue continues to play a role, but the space it takes up needs to go beyond Davening. This is the idea of the wisdom cafe: A place where anyone or any group can enjoy a cup of coffee, gather with other Jewish people and even explore Jewish ideas. A synagogue can bring in an author or speaker on a topic, and attendance will vary. When a cafe brings in the same speaker, it is more relevant to today’s population and will attract bigger attendance. A cafe encourages more communal involvement and is less hierarchal or territorial. A cafe, by design, is a community space.

This is critical for our neighborhood. The Woodward corridor is experiencing Jewish growth in cities like Berkeley, Ferndale, Royal Oak, Oak Park, and Huntington Woods. With the loss of the JCC a space like the Wisdom Cafe will serve a vital need as an inviting space for anyone to run Jewish programs with no rental charge.

In this proposal, you will find information on the proposed renovation of the building, our current capital fundraising efforts, and some examples of programs we intend to run. This will be a community space; additional programs will come from the people who use it and the organizations that make it theirs.

The Wisdom Cafe will offer a collaborative space for the new age of socializing and networking in the Jewish community. With so many people working from home these days and congregational engagement down, this will provide a fresh opportunity for people to get a cup of coffee while they work with the side perks of building community and acquiring snippets of Jewish knowledge with each cup. This space will cultivate connections, and provide learning opportunities. The Wisdom Cafe will provide refreshments, a workspace, a meeting space, play date opportunities, and drop-in classes. It will have something for everyone but, specifically, fill a need for young adults and families to find a place to connect Jewishly in a post-pandemic era without membership or affiliation.


We are passionate about this venture and its potential impact on the community. Therefore we will be moving forward with it with confidence and hope that others decide to get in on this investment in the future. Our community has rallied behind this venture, and we have raised most of the capital costs of this project. W need to raise the budget for programming and a program professional. The program professional will make sure that the community is aware of this resource and encourage collaborative investments in the space as well as ensure that Aish continues to provide great programming. 


Why at Aish? Aish is a no-membership organization,  and our space is utilized by the Jewish community from all denominations. When you come to the annual aish gala, it is one of the few events in the city where every part of the community is represented. We have partnered with most significant organizations, even bringing Rabbis from other congregations on our trips. We give our space regularly to NCSy, and the Friendship Circle and never have said no to BBYO and others. We have run significant events with the Federation, JCC, and many others.  Aish’s location and purpose all lend themselves to this incredible new venture of the Wisdom Cafe.

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