Starting in October, First Hebrew is launching two new programs to address the unique challenges that face Jewish and interfaith families in Northern Westchester. Jkids, for ages 2-5 with their grown-ups, and the renowned Chai Mitzvah personalized spiritual journey offer opportunities to connect, learn and grow with no religious requirements, expectations or membership in any synagogue.
“In our neck of the woods, Jewish and interfaith families are widely spread out across different school districts and even different synagogues,” said First Hebrew’s Rabbi Dana Z. Bogatz. “There are no predominantly Jewish neighborhoods like there are down county. This makes connections with the Jewish community somewhat of a challenge.”
According to Rabbi Dana, as she likes to be called, each program offers a variety of tools from which each individual or family can choose to learn from and incorporate into their life as they see fit. The programs provide the chance to connect with others in the community.
“There’s an old saying, that there are more ways to be Jewish than seeds in a pomegranate,” said Rabbi Dana. “There is no gold standard. With these First Hebrew programs, each person is free to choose what they learn, how they learn it and if and how they choose to grow spiritually.”
Jkids offers families with preschoolers a way to meet through creative and social activities. Children and their grown-ups will enjoy arts and crafts, games and music which revolve around Jewish holidays such as Hanukkah, Passover and Purim. Families can also discover fun things to do for Shabbat, the weekly Sabbath or day of rest, which occurs on Saturdays in Judaism. Parents will have the opportunity to provide input into activities, what refreshments are served as well as scheduling.
This program meets one Sunday morning each month beginning October 21, and runs through June. Other than an $18 supply fee for the year, jkids is free of charge.
Chai Mitzvah is a chance for adults to explore their spirituality, making it more meaningful. Similar to a book club, Chai Mitzvah meets monthly, for one year, to discuss texts and share observations and experiences.
Participants in this program build their own “Jewish bucket-list” whereby they pick something they’ve always wanted to learn, engage in social action of their choosing and find some way of expressing their deepening spirituality. Each person determines their own goal, and controls how they go through their personal Jewish journey.
“Everyone is entitled to their unique spiritual life,” said Rabbi Dana, “and Chai Mitzvah offers a personalized way to discover that identity or re-charge that spiritual life.”
For more information about these programs visit www.firsthebrew.org or, contact First Hebrew at 914-739-0500 or firstname.lastname@example.org First Hebrew is located on the border of Cortlandt and Peekskill, at 1821 Main Street, Route 6, Peekskill.