Gateway and Tents, Our Partnership with Congregation Ohel Avraham, is Now a Reality!
partnership with Congregation Ohel Avraham and the Leo
Center in Haifa is now underway. Our name for the partnership - "Gateways and Tents" - draws from the names of the two congregations: Shaaray Tefila (Gates of Prayer) and Ohel Avraham (Tent of Abraham). [See gatewaysandtents.org, a joint website of the partnership, for the latest blogposts, updates and more!]
is this Partnership?
Our joint vision for this partnership is two
congregations (Shaaray Tefila and Ohel Avraham) and two schools (Shaaray
Tefila’s Religious School and Leo Baeck Education Center) whose members,
students, and families are deeply and strongly connected to each other on a
personal level and thereby develop stronger Jewish identities and live richer
Jewish lives. Programming will include congregants of all ages. In fall 2012-13, we have begun with a youth exchange, connections between fourth grade classes in the two schools, and a visit to Haifa by members who traveled to Israel in October 2012 with Rabbi Hirsch. We look forward to adding adult joint study, connections between women's groups, connections between nursery schools, tikkun olam activities, connections between bar/bat mitzvah students and their families, and travel back and forth by individuals and families.
In January 2011, our Board of Trustees and the
leadership of Ohel Avraham approved initiating this partnership. We approached the
Global Jewish Connections Task Force of UJA-Federation of New York and Shaaray Tefila’s
Sesquicentennial Fund for funding of reciprocal exchanges during 2011-12 to
enable planning and the forging of personal connections. By summer, funding of
$10,000 from the UJA and up to $20,000 from our Sesquicentennial Fund was
confirmed. We were also invited to apply for a much larger grant from UJA-Federation
Throughout the fall of 2011 the planning team from
Shaaray Tefila – Rabbi Joshua Strom,
Mindy Davids, Hope
Chernak, Laura Greene,
Ted Greenwood and Paula Dwoskin Sitzer – met regularly and
communicated by Skype and email with their counterpart team in Haifa. In December, a seven-person delegation
from Shaaray Tefila, including two members of TaSTY (our teen youth group), Talia
Bornstein and Ben Bass, spent ten days in Haifa,
hosted by the staff and congregants of Ohel Avraham. Their time included learning
about Ohel Avraham, Leo Baeck, and Haifa,
as well as other Israeli Reform congregations with similar international partnerships.
An entire day was devoted to identifying and prioritizing programs and
activities that the two congregations and Leo Baeck could do together that
would enrich the Jewish lives of congregants of all ages and Leo Baeck
|Israel Engagement Committee welcomes Ohel Avraham Visitors May 2012
Last May, a six-person team from Ohel Avraham
and Leo Baeck visited New York
and were hosted in congregants’ homes. Their delegation included Rabbi Gabby
Dagan, Coordinator Rivi Mor, Board member Elana Dorfman, active member Michal
Peled, Leo Baeck High School teacher Shlomo Weinberg, and Leo Baeck third-grade teacher Avigael Brill. This team
was introduced to a wide cross-section of Shaaray Tefila’s leadership,
committees, staff, students and parents. During the trip and into the summer
months, members of both the Haifa and Shaaray
Tefila teams continued to discuss how to implement the programs and activities
created in Haifa.
Recently, UJA-Federation awarded our partnership $60,000 for 2012-13 and this
will be supplemented by a grant of up to $22,000 from our Sesquicentennial
Ten Shaaray Tefila 11th and 12th
grade students will travel to Haifa
in December 2012, where they will be hosted by teens from Ohel Avraham and Leo
Baeck. For ten days our students will experience first-hand what life in Israel is like.
This trip is embedded in a year-long education program and will be
reciprocated by a visit of Ohel Avraham and Leo Baeck teenagers to us in March.
By the end of the year, we expect that our students will feel a strong
connection to Israel
and to individual Israelis. With anticipated continuing support from UJA-Federation,
we hope this will become an annual program so that, over time, most of our
teenagers will have an opportunity to participate.
Between Younger Children and Families
On December 9, Shaaray Tefila's fourth grade students will have their first "meeting" with Leo Baeck fourth graders via Skype. When our members visited Haifa during their October trip with Rabbi Hirsch, they carried gifts from our fourth grade students to their counterparts at Leo Baeck, in preparation for the Skype session. This relationship beginning with fourth graders will continue as these students move up through the schools and will be
initiated anew with each successive fourth-grade class.
From left: Hillel and Elana Dorfman, Ohel Avraham members; Rivi Mor,
Ohel Avraham staff; Avigael Brill, Grade 3 teacher at Leo Baeck
Education Center; Rabbi Gabby Dagan, Ohel Avraham; Shlomo Weinberg, HS
educator at Leo Baeck; and Michal Peled, Ohel Avraham member
Active planning is underway to add new elements to the partnership. Later this winter, Shaaray Tefila's women's group, NASHIM, expects to connect by Skype with its counterpart at Ohel Avraham to explore some joint activities. Rabbis Dagan and Strom are working toward launching a joint adult learning program in the spring and exploring how to connect our Bnai Mitzvah students and their families with their counterparts at Ohel Avraham. Planning will begin soon to initiate joint programming for the nursery schools.
Our Israel Engagement Committee is mobilizing to be prepared to welcome future visitors from Ohel Avraham who come to New York for business or pleasure. We encourage Shaaray Tefila members who are
traveling to Israel to visit
they will be welcomed by members of Ohel Avraham.
If all of this sounds ambitious, it is! But the lay
and professional leadership on both sides are committed to seeing this happen.
If you have additional ideas to contribute, or
questions about the programs, please contact Ted
Greenwood or Dan Adler, co-chairs of our Israel Engagement Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
||Watch this video for highlights from our December 2011 planning trip to Haifa to meet with our partners at Ohel Avraham!