Creating Community

on Thursday, 01 August 2013. Posted in Temple Times Articles

Over the last few months I have been taking the time to explore what it means to create a warm and welcoming community for the Kurn Religious School and the Temple at large. While our community encompasses kindness and warmth, it is now time to build lasting connections amongst our students, our families, and the larger Temple community.

While growing Jewish literacy and building a strong Jewish narrative is not optional in any way, we also need to build connections within the community. Our students and families need this knowledge in order to thrive as part of the Jewish people and they need relationships to sustain their connection with Our People. Jewish literacy encompasses knowledge of holidays, Hebrew, prayers, Jewish vaules/ethics, life cycles, Jewish History, Israel, Torah, etc. There is no shortage of what to learn or ways to learn it! And with each step, it is our job to nurture the relationships within the community or we will fail in our mission to grow Jewish souls.

As my friend and colleague Steve Kerbel recently posted on Facebook, that he tells his teachers "they are creators of community." That resonated for me because in essence, Steve's words encompass what should be going on within our Religious School. In order to have community, you need the common interest that connects a group and you need positive group energy to solidify the connection.

In order to become an even strong 'creators of community', we will be incorporating the following new and old ideas into our program:

  • Parent involvement – We are reinstituting room parents and inviting the parents to help in the classrooms on a regular basis.
  • Beginning of the year grade level gatherings – This will be organized by room parent and/or another grade level parent.
  • Siyyums – In addition to the end of the year school-wide wrap-up, each grade will have periodic siyyums to share and celebrate what they have learned after the students have completed a unit/project or a specific skill/prayer is learned. Parents will be invited in to share in these events.
  • Social/Educational Experiences – Grades 2 and up will participate in at least one Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) and environmental/hiking outing. Learning and parent involvement will be a component to the success of these programs. We will also have the lower grades take part in these experiences, but they may take place within their Religious School classrooms.
  • Shabbat No'ar – All Religious School students, as well as Tucson Hebrew Academy students/members, will be invited to participate, but many of the Saturday morning services for Shabbat No'ar will focus on a particular grade cohort. We will invite each of those grades to contribute to make the breakfast a little more special for those that attend.
  • Shabbat Rocks – Work towards 100% participation for our Religious School students as well as the Tucson Hebrew Academy students/members that also are part of the Temple community.
  • Family Education – We are looking to create some family and/or intergenerational workshops.
  • Holiday Celebration including the Greatest Hanukah on Earth, Tu B'Shevat Seder, Purim Celebration/Carnival and Passover Seder.
  • and More. . . .

May the new school year bring stronger relationships between the different grade cohorts and the many families that make up the Kurn Religious School.

Looking forward to seeing each of you soon!


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Tucson, AZ 85716

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