About Our Community

P'nai Or is a unique congregation which grew in response to our search for innovative approaches to Jewish prayer, learning and celebration. Philadelphia P'nai Or was founded in the early 80's by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi along with students and colleagues who envisioned a new form of intentional Jewish community. Here Jewish teachers and learners would co-create contemporary forms of Jewish expression in a dynamic relationship to Torah, Hasidic prayer and teaching, the Jewish mystical tradition, meditation and current approaches in psychology and personal growth.

While our beloved Reb Zalman has moved on to other projects and places, the community he began has thrived. Reb Zalman gave us permission to be creative, and to bring Yiddishkeit into our inner search for self-actualization, self-expression and personal growth. We learned to bring passion to prayer, and that Judaism could include celebration and play along with intellectual rigor.

P'nai Or is a location for Jewish creativity. We are known for our unique exploratory and participatory style. Leadership of the services is shared by members through a service leaders' group. Rabbi Marcia Prager also leads, teaches, and provides rabbinic guidance. This system of shared leadership encourages members to train as leaders, and offers us diverse styles of prayer and learning. Our davvenen includes traditional nusach, song and chant, movement, dance, contemplative reflection, small group exercises and sharing... and a range of other creative possibilities.

Pnai Or is an extended family. We are community builders, spiritual seekers, and social activists who have found a home in a revived Judaism. At P'nai Or women and men share in all forms of worship, teaching, leadership, and decision making. We seek the development and elevation of the whole person, bringing Godliness into the inner search for self-expression, and personal growth. Our liturgy is holistic, embracing God's feminine and masculine aspects as equal facets of an even greater Oneness. Our unique siddur, designed by Rabbi Marcia, with the participation of many members, is beautiful and user-friendly.

We are Jews who believe that the Jewish spiritual path offers guidance and inspiration to contemporary people searching for individual and communal growth and renewal. We welcome singles, families of all constellations, and partners in interfaith relationships. We welcome gay/lesbian and straight, young and old.

We strive to balance tradition with innovation by creating pathways of prayer, study, and action that integrate the richness of our vast heritage with the vitality of life in the global present. With awe and reverence, tears and laughing, song and dance, we come together to share a zest for life, a quest for healing, and sensitivity to the ills of the world.

What Are Our Commitments?

  • We are committed to creating sacred prayer space to help each of us discover the "rebbe within." We approach God most often in a circle, because we find that we can amplify our prayers through each other's supportive presence.
  • We are committed to evolving a Jewish path accessible to all who seek to explore and learn, whether it be those awakened to spirituality within Jewish tradition or those who experienced that awakening while traveling other paths.
  • We are committed to building a supportive community, within which we will learn together, respond to each other in times of need, celebrate together, and honor life's transitions.
  • We are committed to creating a soul-filled educational environment to transmit vibrant Judaism to ourselves and our children.
  • We are committed to Tikkun Olam, the healing of brokenness in the world through mitzvot and acts of caring.
  • We are committed to Torah's call to pursue peace and justice, and to care for the earth.
  • We are committed to a deep love for Israel, striving to realize our vision of peace between the children of Isaac and the children of Ishmael in the Promised Land of our ancestors.


Become a member: P'nai Or Philadelphia is supported entirely by members' annual dues and volunteer efforts. We ask every person who values our community to support us to the maximum extent possible. Members and friends of P'nai Or Philadelphia are also invited to join an array of councils through which we plan activities and give our community direction, and our own e-mail group where we discuss matters of need and interest, circulate announcements for the community, and just keep close.

Annual dues (ranges):

  • Individual, $286-$786*
  • Family, $386-$1,036*
  • Student or unemployed, $60-$118**
  • Associate member, $100-$400
  • No one is ever turned away from P'nai Or membership or activities for financial reasons.

*Includes $36 per household annual dues to ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, our parent organization. **Includes $10-$18 per household annual dues to ALEPH, our parent organization.

P'nai Or Philadelphia was founded by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, who led our community for 20 years until his departure for Boulder, Colorado, in 1995. We are a member of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, a world-wide organization which advances vital Judaism as an ethical and spiritual path, and whose world headquarters is physically located right in our community.

Our Rabbi, Marcia Prager is a nationally known teacher and author, and co-leader of the Davvenen Leadership Training Institute (DLTI).