A program for Yom HaAtzmaut, Bishkek
Jewish Studies Enrichment for Parents and Children, Bishkek
Name of implementing organization:"Pri Etz-Haim" School, Bishkek
Date of initial project approval:February 2008
Date of project renewal:February 2010
Brief description of the local Jewish community
The Jewish community in Kyrgyzstan numbers approximately 1,500.
The following Jewish educational organizations function in Bishkek: the semi-private Jewish school “Pri Etz Haim”; the youth group of the community program “Hesed-Tikva”; the youth group of the Jewish Agency; a Jewish Sunday school; and a Jewish kindergarten. Jewish social organizations in Bishkek include: the Jewish Culture Society in Kyrgyzstan (JCSK) “Menora”; the Jewish Charitable Fund “Hesed-Tikva”; the regional department of JAFI; the city Synagogue; and the public organization “Tarbut”.
The Jewish community in Bishkek includes nearly 200 school-age children, approximately half of whom have Jewish mothers.
Project aims and objectives
- To teach Jewish Tradition to children and parents
- To introduce Jewish traditional life elements into family life
- To overcome the lag in Jewish Studies and Hebrew by children new to the school
The project taught Jewish Tradition, customs, and holidays to parents, children experiencing learning difficulties with Jewish Studies, and children new to the school.
The project conducted weekly classes for two groups of parents. One group, the "Jewish Mothers Club", was comprised of 5 single mothers. A second parents group, "Family Club", included 8 persons. These groups attended classes once a week (4 hours weekly). The "Jewish Mothers Club" studied Applied Arts (including the elements of Jewish lifestyle), Jewish Tradition, Hebrew, and Computer Technology. The "Family Club" studied Hebrew, Jewish Tradition, and Jewish History.
36 children participated in the project. The children were divided into four groups: a junior group (ages 6-8), a middle-group (ages 10-13), a senior group (ages 14-17), and school newcomers (ages 12-16). Each group attended 6-7 hours of classes weekly. The curriculum included: Jewish Tradition, Jewish Customs and Holidays, Jewish History, Applied Arts, Hebrew, English, and Computer Technology.
The project staff included 10 teachers. They met every Sunday for in-service training seminars.
The Project also included celebration of Jewish holidays, memorial day programs,and Shabbatonim.
Main budget elements
Head of methodological support services
Shabbat and holiday celebrations
Computer Center maintenance
The project's successes
The project can be considered successful. Participants reported that knowledge of Jewish Tradition which they acquired greatly influenced their viewpoint. Each participant found something important for himself. But above all, Jewish Tradition was introduced into the lifestyle of 49 people from assimilated families. The project promoted the atmosphere of Jewish family life. Participants who eventually will make aliyah to Israel now have acquired basic knowledge of Hebrew and English. All the educational goals planned at the start of the project have been achieved.
Difficulties encountered along the way
The project coincided with a period of political instability in Kyrgyzstan. This entailed financial complications, and difficulties connected with changes in the pricing policy of the state. It was necessary to reconsider the budget and managerial aspects of the project, including staff salaries, the cost of food, and so on.