Kehilla, Curriculum and Culture

Oct 22, 2013 by

Last week, Rabbi Jim Rogozen wrote a fantastic piece in eJewishPhilanthropy entitled “The Kehilla is the Curriculum“.  In it, he articulates a vision that is very Connected Congregations-esque:

People in the kehilla will feel the need to be present for others; they will want to learn more in order to be a stronger member of their community; they will come to see that Jewish Tradition gives their lives meaning, because it is lived for and with others.
What I find most powerful about his vision is the impact on the educational design within the congregation.  He posits that synagogue-based education isn’t about teaching information, but first and foremost should teach “the skills of living in, and sustaining, a community (e.g. how to work in a group, problem solving, peer mediation, communication, planning and evaluation, inclusivity skills, how to make a shiva call, how to lead a minyan, etc.)”
I find this incredibly powerful and attractive, as a person who believes in congregations, and a parent of young children currently enrolled in synagogue-based education.  These are Jewish life skills that accomplish multiple goals:
  1. Creating a share literacy of what it means to live in this community.  Here are the social norms, social skills, social responsibilities.  This is the social/emotional intelligence of a community, and anything less is the glass ceiling for communal potential.  (See Dr. Rona Novick’s ELI Talk on social emotional intelligence for more.)
  2. Giving children an active role and ownership in communal responsibilities from an early age.  [I personally think this is particularly important for non-orthodox communities where taking on 'communal responsibility' upon become a bar or bat mitzvah is a bit more vague.]  By engaging first with community, these children become ‘Jewish communal natives’, and grow to identify with the synagogue and local Jewish community as their own norm.
  3. The trickle up effect could be huge.  By designing curriculum that deepens engagement with the community, parents and others are impacted and engaged, learning and more importantly doing along side their children.

Despite doing a lot of work in the field of Jewish education our early drafts of the Connected Congregations model did not explicitly call out examining or aligning the curriculum for youth with the principles of being a Connected Congregation.  Do you think it should?

Related Posts

Share This

Leave a Reply