2016-08-03 / Columns

Innovative programming on the way from Department of Jewish Education

Federation President

One of our Federation’s departments that we don’t brag about nearly enough is our Department of Jewish Education (DJE). As Federation president, I am always excited to see new ideas in the making and new programming blossom into reality. Our DJE has been hard at work this summer, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you what they’ve been up to!

The DJE and the JCC Camps at Medford came together recently to run an awareness workshop for those in our community who work with LGBTQ teens. While our community is recognized for already being very inclusive and welcoming, there is not a lot of specific LGBTQ programming. This workshop came about to further awareness and sensitivity of LGBTQ needs.

Keshet—a national organization that works for full LGBTQ equality and inclusion in Jewish life—facilitated the workshop that focused on being aware of people’s personal pronoun preferences, and understanding the difference between gender, sex, and sexual orientation. As a group, we reviewed LGBTQ terminology and roleplayed scenarios to practice what we learned. A wide variety of organizations attended the workshop, from Reform to Conservative synagogues, and Federation and JCC Camp staff. We look forward to continuing this dialogue with the South Jersey Jewish community and utilizing what we learned.

The DJE also hosted a young family engagement meeting in July with representatives from the day schools, many local synagogues, the Katz JCC, DJE’s PJ Library, and our Federation Young Adult Division (YAD). This was an open discussion about young family programming and events in our community and how we can continue to make South Jersey an amazing place to raise Jewish families. On the table was the question of why Jewish young family programming is so vital to our community. The group also discussed what makes these types of events important and how each organization can improve its own individual programming. Everyone shared his or her thoughts and perspectives and a plan of action was developed. The organizations in attendance look forward to collaborating and working together, while each maintaining their own unique identities in the community.

Participants in the young family engagement meeting also expressed the need for focused lay leader training, with a minimal time commitment. Therefore, the DJE will move forward with a lay leader “boot camp” on fundraising, board management, database management, and more. This program will be open to all lay leaders in our community with the aim to introduce them to the necessary tools to succeed.

Last but not least, our amazing PJ Library program continues to grow. Coming this fall, we will be increasing our subscriptions to 1,300 families. PJ Library serves as an innovative, vital vehicle for engagement and collaboration—and one that will be leveraged even more in the year ahead with the addition of a Jewish Women’s Philanthropy grant to host Shabbat dinners among PJ families. With the expansion of PJ to include PJ Our Way, we now offer books for young readers from 9-11 years old.

Now you too should be proud of our Federation Department of Jewish Education and these wonderful programs that support the entire South Jersey Jewish community!

Together, we are Federation and we are building our future.


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