Missed my article in ARJE Achshav? Read it here:
For over 25 years a group of dedicated, devoted, and
enthusiastic adults meet every Sunday morning at Lakeside Congregation
for Adult Enrichment. We begin the morning with a small group for
weekday t’filah. We also host a lox and bagel brunch and then we get
down to business as we meet for 90 minutes; we have about 30 speakers
over any school year. Sometimes we have a theme that takes us through a
whole year and occasionally we just have monthly topics.
The weekend before Thanksgiving, we hosted Jim Kenney from Common
Ground in Deerfield, Illinois, who spoke about “Reflections on the 2016
Election.” We had over 100 people in attendance and for our small
congregation of 300 families that is a great turnout. How did this adult
education solidify and continue to grow over the years? This is not an
easy question but one I can attempt to answer.
• We call our Sunday morning lectures “Adult Enrichment” which we
hope will signal to our congregants and community attendees that these
lectures are not meant to be a class. You can come one week and miss the
next 3 weeks because our classes do not build one upon the other.
Occasionally we have a series of 2 or 3 sessions on one topic but all
Sunday mornings can stand on their own.
• We depend on dynamic speakers and if they are enjoyed one year we
bring them back, if not the next year, perhaps in a few years.
• We set the calendar for Adult Enrichment 8-10 months in advance.
Speakers are sometimes surprised that we are full for the year in
• We plan our topics and speakers by September and then have a bookmark
with all of our speakers ready to pass out at the High Holy Days.
• We budget for the speakers.
• We ask our participants to help defray the cost of the lox and bagel brunch by being a “sponsor” once or twice a year.
I am very proud of our program and excited every Sunday morning to
see so many adults coming into the building to participate in this
program. Both my rabbi and I do one or two Sunday mornings and then we
find exciting speakers in our community. This adult study has fostered
friendships, spearheaded social action projects and helped us to move
forward many different agendas including ritual or even taking a trip to
One of our upcoming Adult Enrichment Sunday programs is “the
Plight of the Refugee; how you can make a difference in the refugee
crisis.” We are planning on sponsoring a refugee and working with HIAS
and what a great way to start this campaign. I am getting ready even now
to plan more Adult Enrichment programs as I look forward to 2017-2018.
Come for the lecture and brunch; stay for the friends!
We have been in Kibbutz HaTzofim Bet for over a week and the chanichim (campers) and Madrichim (counselors) are settling into their groove. When your chanichim come home happy and tired this Sunday here are few things we think you can incorporate into your family discussion:
- Helping out in our community: In Tzofim we helped each other out all day every day. Your child has been on Meal prep: setting the tables and doing some easy food prep, clean up: cleaning our eating areas and doing dishes as well as Nikayon (general clean up). Most days, except Shabbat, we give Nikayon scores to every Ohel, tent. Chanichim work very hard to earn top scores by organizing their belongings and making their beds!
- D’bar Ivrit: Speak Hebrew every day: Your child will come home with dozens of new Hebrew vocabulary words. Ask them their favorite words and write them on note cards to post around the house.
- Enhancing spirituality: Our chanichim have all prepared daily t’filot, services, for our community. Through their beautiful words and images they lead us in prayer. They also began every meal with the Motzi prayer and end every meal with the Birkat Hamazon, grace after meals. Try adding the blessing over the bread on Fridays to make Shabbat a little more special.
- Being kind to animals and tending the garden: Our chanichim take care of all of the animals in our refet, farm. They feed them, pet them and as they answered when we asked, “we hang out with them”. Chanichim also tend our garden by watering, weeding, and hoeing the ground. They attend to these duties every day except on Shabbat.
- Trying something new: Our limud, leaning
activities has revolved around heroes and we encouraged our chanichim to
try something new every day. They climbed Etgar our high ropes course
and were challenged on our low ropes course where they had to spot one
another as the ropes were about one-foot off the ground. We have more
surprises for the end of our week and be sure to ask your chanich about
what super power they chose for their cape. Try to keep the challenge
going at home and plan something small for you and your child to try
that is different from your everyday routine.
- Ending the day: Every Ohel, tent (and in other eidot, units, this happens as well) our Madrichim create a special experience for our chanichim. Every night “lights out” is different. It could be “meet the Madrich”, story time, music or just about anything that will calm chanichim and bring them together as a chevre, friend group. Most of the girls Ohelim sing the moon song (ask them about it!) and all of the Ohelim end the day with singing Shema together. We know that when your child gets home they will miss their friends, their madrichim and saying good night in this special way.
We are so proud of everything that we have taught, learned and experienced over these past two weeks. Don’t be afraid to ask your child to clean up their room, do the dishes, set the table or try out something new. They may be ready for a new pet or to help out in your garden. They have been all doing these activities and so many more and we hope they will continue their quest for enriching their Jewish identity, friendship connections and independence.
Vanessa M. Ehrlich is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Lakeside Congregation in Highland Park, Illinois. Nicole A. Jahr is Director of Lifelong Learning at Temple Beth El Madison, Wisconsin. Together, they proudly serve as Segel for Tzofim Bet.