Participants in a Tu B'Shvat celebration conducted by the Intergenerational Family Education project, Guadalajara, Mexico
Intergenerational Family Education
Name of implementing organization:Hebrew Congregation of Guadalajara
Date of initial project approval:February 2005
Date of project renewal:February 2008
Brief description of the local Jewish community
The Jewish community of Guadalajara numbers approximately 450. The community is
served by an Orthodox synagogue and by the Hebrew Congregation of Guadalajara, which is Masorti, and has a membership of 180.
The only Jewish Day School in Guadalajara closed in recent years, as did the Jewish Kindergarten. Both institutions had been a central part of the community for 40 years.
Project aims and objectives
- To strengthen Jewish life and Jewish education in Guadalajara
- To strengthen Jewish identity, through familiarity with Jewish texts and rituals
- To provide an inter-generational, family-oriented program which will strenthen the community
This project is a learning program for families. It has 3 fundamental axes which organize all activities:
- The cycle of Jewish life
- The cycle of Jewish festivities
- Guemilut chasadim and Tikkun Olam, Jewish values in action
These three axes help participants understand how Judaism relates to the individual, the
family, the community ,and the Jewish people.
Before beginning the program of activities, a survey of the congregation was conducted to clarify the generational composition of each family, and their Jewish knowledge, attitudes, and practices. The survey provided a baseline for measuring the impact of the project's activities.
At the start of the project, each family received a kit containing materials with explanations, and suggested activities to be performed at home, and in synagogue, throughout the year.
Participants were divided into four groups:
- Kindergarten children
- Elementary school children, ages 7- 9
- Elementary school age children, ages 10 – 12
The children attend regular classes twice a week. The curriculum includes Torah, Hebrew, Jewish Holidays and Traditions, Jewish dance, and Jewish celebration. There is a reading club for adults.
Each group's lessons are suited to its level, as are the suggested activities. Some activities include all congregation members, while others are intended to be carried out at home. The program encourages "doing" and living Judaism.
During the past year, we hired two new young teachers. They developed excellent connections to the children and were able to utilize a number of different learning approaches. Rabbi Joshua Kullock is still in charge of the project, and teaches the preschool children, , the older children, adolescents, and adults.
During this past semester, we have used many different methodologies:
1) In addition to our weekly class on Jewish Ethics, we continue with our Podcast which is updated frequently. The website for the Podcast is: www.chg.podbean.com
Some other information on our adult courses:
· In our advanced class, we completed the course on Central Concepts in Jewish Thought, and began learning Talmud. We are committed to completing the fourth chapter of Masechet Meguillah by the end of June.
· In our weekly Jewish Ethics class, we continue to study Mesilat Yesharim by Ramchal
· This semester we were able to bring the following guest speakers:
o Abraham Lichtembaum (AMIA - Argentina): He is in charge of the restoration and digitalization of the Jewish library that was destroyed in the bombing of the AMIA in Buenos Aires in 1994. He spoke about the whole project.
o Lalo Slepoy (JAFI): He spoke about the challenges of Israel's demographics, especially regarding the various non-Jewish minorities in the country.
We continue to study Torah with the congregation's adolescents. We try to make this open and comfortable. We encourage participants to ask questions and to wrestle with the texts, and to try to learn from the texts important messages for their daily lives. It is a challenging age, and we are happy to see that the participants keep coming to the shiurim.
We also organized campaigns to help the people in Veracruz, Mexico, and to rebuild the forest in the Carmel, Israel, after the fires of November.
In the past semester, we conducted some great intergenerational activities:
· Regional camp
· Hanukkah party
· Contest of Jewish food
· World Wide Wrap 2011
· Tu BiShvat: Seder and jacarandas project
· Half Shekel Ceremony
· Purim 5771
· Kids' day
In conclusion, despite limited economic resources, our educational project is growing, and we are trying to sustain a number of groups who have different needs.
Main budget elements
Educational kits for homes
The project's successes
More and more people are participating in our educational activities. A huge percentage of our congregation, from kids to adults, now studies on a regular basis.
Difficulties encountered along the way
Our new teachers have done a great job this year, helping to solve some of the difficulties encountered in the past.
On the other hand, it is a challenge to sustain all the progress of past years. It would be wonderful to keep attracting new people to our courses, but it is not easy, and the percentages attending are already high. We continually look for interesting ideas, projects, classes, which will connect the congregation with their Jewishness and help them further develop their own Jewish identities.