On October 30, 2018, five CEH staff members attended The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Family Programming Professionals Conference. CEH was represented by Laura Naide, Director of Religious Education; Alexis Joyce, Preschool Director; and Linda Lichtman, Milena Serrato and Ana DeMaree, Preschool Teachers. Altogether more than 50 Jewish professionals from the Greater DC Metro area met to learn and share ideas about family programming.
We started the day with a text study led by Rabbi Gil Steinlauf, the Federation’s Scholar-in-Residence. Our text (Brachot 10a) was the basis of a discussion about how we deal with perpetrators of evil. Do we blame the perpetrator? Or do we embrace the idea that every person created by God has the capacity to do good in which case we focus on the sin and restitution/rehabilitation. We were able to share our thoughts on this dilemma in light of the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh.
We next learned from a diverse panel on “Creating an Inclusive Community.” The participants included a same-sex couple with one Jewish and one non-Jewish spouse, a Jewish parent of developmentally-delayed children, and a transgender Jew of color. The panelists shared the best and worst experiences of their Jewish journeys. The overarching messages were: 1) never assume that you know someone else’s journey, and 2) engage the person, not the “category.”
We concluded the morning with two professionals from PJ Library who shared four family engagement principles. First, “The more we get together, the happier we’ll be.” This means that frequent social interaction builds lasting relationships. Second, “Stop, look, and listen.” Make time to reflect on your programming and question it – does it meet family’s needs? Third, “PJ Library is a GPS for parents in the driver’s seat.” While PJ Library and other Jewish institutions can guide, support and incentivize Jewish engagement, parents ultimately choose their destination. And, fourth, “Jewish content, quick and deep.” It is important to offer accessible Jewish content that addresses parents’ deepest needs and inspires them to learn more.
The afternoon was similarly busy, with workshops on experiential programming, building relationships, marketing and family education. At the end of the day, we had the opportunity to meet in small groups and put together action items and follow up with a colleague
This opportunity to learn and build relationships with other Jewish professionals will help us to continue to provide excellent family programming at CEH. This year’s programming, “What’s Jewish About . . . “ provides opportunities for families to learn about life through a Jewish lens at different locations throughout Arlington. We invite you to join us at our next event, “What’s Jewish About Bubbies,” at CEH on Sunday, November 18 at 1:30 PM.
PJ Library offers FREE books delivered to your home for children ages 6 months to 11 years. Visit pjlibrary.org to sign up.
— Laura Naide & Alexis Joyce, Family Programmers