Temple Beth-El to launch innovative learning program

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Temple Beth-El to launch innovative learning program
The Kehillah Project will offer an exciting new learning option for elementary and middle school students at Temple Beth-El this fall.

An exciting new learning option will become available for elementary and middle school students this fall as The Kehillah Project at the Gershwind Family Religious School launches at Temple Beth-El of Great Neck, bringing the beauty of reform traditions and values to life.

“I want to ensure that every single child has access to Jewish education,” expressed Rabbi Megan Brumer, who will oversee the program, “an education that will teach them what it means to be Jewish and how to bring that Judaism into their everyday lives, an education that will not discriminate because of gender, race or any other status.”

Four values at the core of Reform Judaism—kehillah (community), tikkun olam (repairing the world), chesed (kindness) and gender egalitarianism—are also at the heart of this unique program.

“The Kehillah Project is a joyous, forward-thinking Jewish education program designed to enhance our children’s lives through fun, innovative and active experiences,” explained Rabbi Megan. “We believe that Jewish community is at its most vibrant when our children are rooted in and inspired by core values like inclusivity, character building and tikkun olam.”

Other values that drove The Kehillah Project’s mission include curiosity, creativity and compassion; personalized participation in Jewish traditions; informed choice; and developing a deep love for Israel.

“The Kehillah Project complements children’s secular lives, encouraging development of Jewish identity and values,” she continued. “The education extends beyond the classroom to include the child’s family as well as our North Shore neighbors.”

After surveying TBE families to ascertain what their dream program would entail, the religious school working group envisioned and created The Kehillah Project, which will focus on more out-of-the-box teaching than the traditional model.

For example, community engagement will be realized on Sunday mornings when instead of simply dropping off children, parents and other members of the TBE family can join the first 30 minutes for song and prayer.

“I’m excited about The Kehillah Project because of its emphasis on building community and reimagining Jewish education,” noted Joanna Stolove, a member of the religious school working group. “My favorite components of the program are our emphasis on meeting the pain points for families by moving the timing later and providing dinner, and our decision to include the entire congregation at our Sunday morning t’fillah.”

The program will be a welcoming and safe space for everyone, regardless of their background, and incorporate interactive components and innovative programming that is thoughtfully designed to engage and enrich children’s Jewish identities.

This will include Hebrew Through Movement, a Tikkun Olam Shark Tank competition and learning about Israel through STEM. The program will teach through many angles, allowing students to discover how they connect best to Judaism and see that it can be incorporated into everyday life.

“Raising our son in the Reform tradition, my wife and I believe it is important that a forward-thinking and inclusive educational program is available for other reform-minded Jewish families in Great Neck and beyond,” said Ethan Brown, a religious school working group member. “We created The Kehillah Project with input from parents, incorporating what they wanted for their children’s religious school experience and how unique it needed to be to keep them engaged. I am very excited about the innovative programming that will engage and delight this generation of children.”

Quarterly off-site trips will enhance the students’ experiences. Spending time outside the classroom will immerse them into the larger community, enabling them to engage differently and expand their understanding.

“I’m particularly interested in seeing our members engage with students in meaningful intergenerational tikkun olam experiences that will both teach our children and have a positive impact on our community,” said Jennifer Still-Schiff, the religious school working group cochair.

Learning from inspired and energetic teachers in a warm, inclusive community, The Kehillah Project will offer a mix of sociable, cultural, social action and educational experiences that create a joyful and meaningful connection to Judaism.

“We want this program to be the place where our children want to be, a place where the community wants to send their children and grandchildren,” asserted Rabbi Megan. “I want our children to feel at home at the temple, and I want them to know that the Jewish community is here for them in times of joy, times of sorrow and every time in between.”

Founded in 1928, Great Neck’s first synagogue is located at 5 Old Mill Road. To learn more, call 516-487-0900, visit www.tbegreatneck.org/learn/the-kehillah-project-religious-school or email [email protected].

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