2018-10-10 / Voice at the Shore

Kulanu offers teens fun, meaningful, and cutting-edge ways to learn about Judaism


Kulanu students (from left), Jacob Schwartz, Seena Ludwig, and Michael Mitnick took part in a cooking class last year. Kulanu students (from left), Jacob Schwartz, Seena Ludwig, and Michael Mitnick took part in a cooking class last year. There’s still time to sign your teenage daughter, son, or grandchild up for the Kulanu School of Jewish Studies.

Kulanu’s weekly classes for teens in grades 7 through 11 begin on Tuesday, October 16, at 7 p.m., at Shirat Hayam in Ventnor.

Kulanu is the place where Jewish learning comes to life. Through study, hands-on programs, volunteering or just hanging out with friends, Kulanu strives to bring meaningful Jewish and life experiences to students.

“We try to educate kids in a joyful way that’s experiential and hands-on,” said Susan Weis, executive director of the Board of Jewish Education, which runs the Kulanu program. “We’re always looking to bring new and innovative programming to our school—to stay on the cutting edge of what interests kids, while keeping Jewish content in the forefront.”

Students get to choose from a diverse range of class topics, including: Why be Jewish; words that hurt; Jewish mindfulness (Mussar); Strong girls/Good guys; Israel today; sexual ethics; Jewish philosophy; Holocaust theology; Write-your-own midrash; Sixword memoirs; and more.

Kulanu also offers electives in photography, yoga, cooking, music, film, and more, all taught from a unique Jewish perspective. This year, said Weis, they are also adding a new course on animation, developed by BimBam, an organization devoted to creating cartoons that teach about Judaism.

Recently, Kulanu diversified its offerings to include many innovative special programs. These include:

• Better Together Intergenerational Fellowship: This yearlong program, which meets on eight Sundays during the school year, encourages meaningful interaction between Kulanu students and elderly residents of Seashore Gardens Living Center in Galloway. Each month, students and seniors engage in conversation and activities such as cooking, dance, art and film. Students also read Jewish texts that help them gain an appreciation for traditions relating to respect and care for the elderly. The program also offers a way for students to obtain community service hours needed for National Honor Society and college applications.

• Noogieland Mitzvah Clowning at Gilda’s Club of South Jersey: This four-session program which meets at Gilda’s Club in Linwood, qualifies students to become “Mitzvah Clowns.” The program equips students with the knowledge and skills of chesed (kindness), bikkur cholim (visiting the sick), and working with children affected by cancer. This program also qualifies students for community service hours needed for National Honor Society and college applications.

• L’Taken Social Justice Weekend in Washington, D.C., February 8-10, 2019: This three-day program fosters community leadership, advocacy and philanthropy. Participants return home with a greater understanding and deeper feeling for their place in the democratic system as American citizens, as young people, and as Jews.

• The Jewish Lens Photography: Kulanu is one of only 20 schools from nine different countries selected to participate in the Jewish Lens Program, a dynamic interdisciplinary curriculum that focuses on Jewish values through the art of photography. Students learn photography skills while taking pictures that express a Jewish value or evoke a Jewish story. All students also participate in a local photo exhibition, and three students’ photos are selected to be part of a display at the Museum of the Jewish People (Beit Hatfutsot) in Israel.

• Morim Teacher Prep: This long-established program teaches the philosophy and techniques needed to become a Jewish educator. Graduates of this course will receive a certificate that will enable them to become assistant teachers (madrichim) at Kulanu or obtain a future job teaching, assisting, or being part of a synagogue school, JCC, or youth group.

For more information about Kulanu, contact the BJE at 609-822-1854 or bjeatlantic@yahoo.com. To register a student, go to www.bjeatlantic.org. 

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