The Jewish Federation of Indianapolis (JFGI) received a grant in early 2018 to help fund two new programs that aim to increase Jewish learning and ritual involvement, especially among intermarried families. Both programs will deepen parents’ commitment to raising Jewish children and strengthen their connection with the Jewish community.
Innovative Outreach Program Highlights:
Program: “A Taste of Hebrew”
A Taste of Hebrew is designed to teach Hebrew decoding skills to both Jews and non-Jews who cannot read Hebrew, with a focus on parents of children who are in the process of learning Hebrew. JFGI will promote and sponsor a series of 6-week Taste of Hebrew classes throughout the community. The class is intentionally designed only as a very basic introduction to Hebrew in order to make it easily accessible and open to everyone. JFGI will hire the teacher(s), help design the curriculum, provide materials, and take care of publicity for the Taste of Hebrew programs. It is hoped that these classes will generate additional interest in continued Hebrew learning among parents and others in the community and lead to further adult Hebrew education classes being developed and offered in the years ahead.
Program: “Finding Your Place in B’nai Mitzvah”
Finding Your Place in B’nai Mitzvah, aims to create a place for non-Jewish parents to deepen their understanding of b’nai mitzvah and feel supported as their children go through this important life-cycle event. JFGI will design a 4-session seminar with a focus on the non-Jewish partner, with the Jewish partner invited to the final session. Special outreach to interfaith families who are currently synagogue members along with unaffiliated interfaith families who may be seeking b’nai mitzvah outside the organized Jewish community will be made to identify participants for this seminar.
These seminars will provide participants with a comfortable place to ask questions and express concerns. Participants will have the opportunity to request a b’nai mitzvah mentor (a volunteer member of an interfaith family who has already experienced a child’s bar/bat mitzvah). Additional reading materials, resources, and community connections will be provided as well. While this seminar is focused on b’nai mitzvah, it can also serve as an opening for participants to find out about other ways to learn more about Jewish ritual and potentially explore ways to learn along with their children.
Participants of the program will:
- Hear about other interfaith families’ personal b’nai mitzvah experiences.
- Learn more about b’nai mitzvah ritual and halachic considerations with regard to non-Jewish family members.
- Develop tools for communicating with extended non-Jewish family.