Fall in love with your tradition.

SVARA’s mission is to empower queer and trans people to expand Torah and tradition through the spiritual practice of Talmud study. We offer year-round learning, served up the old-fashioned way: hardcore, queer, and radically inclusive.

Learn With Us

At SVARA, everyone—queer, straight, trans, alef-bet beginners, experienced talmudists, secular, religious, Jews, non-Jews—everyone learns together in a mixed-level bet midrash. And no matter where you dive in, you’ll gain a sense of empowerment to shape a tradition that has always been yours.

Traditionally Radical

The way we learn Talmud is what makes SVARA special. We bring a traditionally radical lens to queer-normative spaces, paired with a commitment to empowering and joyful pedagogy. This approach is one of the most powerful ways our tradition can help create a different kind of person— an empathic, loving, courageous, and critical-thinking learner.

The Meaning of Svara

The word svara is a 2,000-year-old Jewish concept invented by the Rabbis of the Talmud, to refer to one’s moral intuition informed by Jewish learning. The Rabbis considered svara a legitimate—and sacred—means of figuring out how we should live our lives, in addition to the means they already had—the Torah.

Two SVARA-niks sit next to one another in the bet midrash. They are both smiling, clapping, and looking ahead towards someone out of frame.

Community Norms

SVARA envisions a future in which liberatory expressions of Judaism equip individuals and communities to realize a just and healed world. As a learning community, we hold ourselves to a set of cultural norms to help shape a bet midrash experience that enables each person to be fully present, supported, and nurtured.

Our Community

SVARA-niks are learning across the country (and in more than eight countries worldwide). Our learners hold identities across age, gender, sexuality, race, and ability. We’re nurturing an intergenerational community of learners whose ages span eight decades, accessible to folks with a diversity of foundational knowledge.

A light blue map of the United States with dark turquoise bubbles over each state. Every bubble contains a number demonstrating how many SVARA learners live in those states. The largest learning populations are from California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.

Invest in SVARA

Since we first started learning together, SVARA-niks have been investing in this incredible community, making it so that everyone who wants to learn is able to join us in the bet midrash. Today, approximately 80% of our learning community pays below the true cost of our programs each semester. If you have resources or are connected to philanthropic partners who believe in our work, we welcome your contributions to this incredible community.