NEW YORK, May 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- The Coalition of Innovating Congregations, a network of congregations supported by The Jewish Education Project and the Experiment in Congregational Education of HUC-JIR, hosted its annual Yachdav Celebration: The Story of our Success for the 50 congregations that participated in the Coalition's programs on May 9th at City Winery in New York. The event highlighted how these 50 congregations have abandoned the Hebrew School model of the past—which focused on books and teacher-led discussions—and created new types of Jewish education focused on inspiring and supporting children and their families via interpersonal relationships, values and relevant connections to Judaism and Israel.
"Through the various alternative learning models created and implemented by our Coalition, children love and look forward to Shabbat, are putting family values into social action, are laughing and playing in camp-like settings and are seeing their definition of "role model" expand," says Cyd Weissman, Director of Innovation Congregational Learning at The Jewish Education Project. "Assembling 50 congregations to share how their programs have transformed lives is powerful. Gone are the days when Jewish education is a Hebrew School setting with lined-up desks and a teacher up front; today, Jewish education is interactive, enthusiastic and meaningful."
Funded by the UJA-Federation of New York, the Coalition of Innovating Congregations offers synagogues across New York the tools and resources they need to offer more interactive and relevant religious school alternatives. Over 3,000 children and 2,200 families from the Coalition's 50 synagogues are now incorporating these alternative models of Jewish learning in their lives.
During the three hour event, educational directors, clergy, lay leaders and teachers met to explore how the twelve different learning alternatives created by the Coalition—ranging from Shabbat Family Celebrations to Jewish Service and Mentoring—are forging a stronger connection to Bar Mitzvah, Judaism and living a more engaged and purposeful Jewish life in our ever changing world.
"Listening to each story is amazing. From the family who has now made Shabbat a priority in their overscheduled life, to the child who once saw her Bat Mitzvah as an exit strategy but now sees it as a gateway to a theater program for her Hebrew high school experience, these stories reinforce how different each congregation and child truly is. Empowering congregations to use Judaism in an interactive and enthusiastic manner for a more resilient and purposeful life was once a goal, now it's a reality." adds Weissman.
To help the Coalition further develop and sustain its programs, author and communications expert Deborah Grayson Riegel of My Jewish Coach spoke about how to better communicate each success story and the Jewish Education Project debuted its new Messaging Center, including a new video describing its mission and vision. Attendees also met Zoe, a remarkable tween from Kane Street Synagogue in Brooklyn to see how Kane Street's programs positively impacted her life. To see Zoe's story, click here, www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PPL3JLO1cU.
THE JEWISH EDUCATION:
The Jewish Education Project (formerly BJENY-SAJES) sparks and spreads innovations that expand the reach and increase the impact of Jewish education. Recognized by Slingshot as one of the nation's 50 most innovative and inspiring Jewish nonprofits for the 2nd consecutive year, our work touches 200,000 children in 800 programs throughout New York. The Jewish Education Project is a beneficiary agency of UJA Federation.
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SOURCE The Jewish Education Project