A Sense of Belonging by Rhonda Gellerman
Every year since the Mishpacha program’s inception and until my son entered 7th grade, I stood at (Or Ami office manager) Susie Stark’s desk with forms in hand by 10 am on the first day that Mishpacha registration opens to secure our place for the next Mishpacha school year. And throughout the year, I am trying so hard not to come in late as I don't want us to miss out on the beginning of the session which sets the tone for the rest of the morning.
Once we’re all settled in, I love the time that being at Mishpacha gives my son Josh and me together. I see so much growth in him this year. I let him take the lead, giving him the opportunity to share his opinion on the sessions topic with me. He is so insightful, so aware of his thoughts, his journey to his sense of what being Jewish is, and for this year’s topic, what God is for him.
And then, I always enjoy learning with the Rabbis, our Mishpacha Coordinators and the many wonderful faculty members that work so hard to make the lessons educational and family friendly.
There is a sense of belonging to our Or Ami community that is reinforced for us by every program that we are involved with. And even though my husband Doug’s commitment to our synagogue’s Ten Plagues softball team often kept him from joining us at Mishpacha, thanks to the "Carpool Convo" (questions to discuss on the car ride home), Josh and I bring our Mishpacha lesson to the dinner table every Sunday evening!
Mishpacha, our Family Learning Program, is a nationally-award winning innovative program to experience and learn about Judaism as a family. Think: summer camp but in the synagogue and with a deeper content. Participants enroll in Mishpacha instead of the mid-week Kesher program, but learn similar Jewish content. Mishpacha engages the whole family in Jewish learning.
If you want your children to value being Jewish, come learn alongside them. Parents and children are able to engage in conversation about the values and traditions of our people. Meeting on Sundays twice monthly (usually from 9:00-11:30 am), Mishpacha adults spend time in conversation with Rabbis Paul Kipnes and Julia Weisz on a similar Jewish content that their children are learning in multi-grade groupings. Later, parents and children enjoy in interactive activities to explore the ideas each learned separately. For 4th-6th grade students, Hebrew Tutoring occurs in small groups one hour a week providing in depth Hebrew learning in our Hebrew Tutoring program.
Mishpacha creates a warm, learning environment to support the Jewish values of Mishpacha (family), expand Talmud Torah (Jewish learning), increase Simcha (joyous celebration), participate in Tikkun Olam (fixing the world) and experience Kedusha (holiness/spirituality). Each year, the theme changes, rotating between Torah stories, Jewish values, Celebrating the cycles of our lives, Jewish holidays, Tikkun Olam (social justice), Henaynu (being a caring community), and Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). Families always explore Jewish history, Israel, and social action projects.
In the coming year, Mishpacha participants will delve deeply into Tikkun Olam (social justice), the Jewish imperative to heal our broken world. Exploring Jewish values connected to social justice, participants will also engage in meaningful social action work.