As the Alliance begins the process of implementing our new strategic plan–which includes themes of innovation–I thought it would be great to highlight examples of innovation from within our Jewish community. While there are certainly many local examples to choose from, I’m pleased to share with you three innovative programs focused specifically on engaging children and youth.
From Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island (JCDS)
TikkunXDesign (read: Tikkun by Design) incorporates Jewish values while emphasizing the skills of 21st century Design Thinking. The Brown University/RISD KinderSTEAM club works closely with JCDS’s Director of TikkunXDesign to guide their students as they use the unique curriculum to practice the skills of observation and empathy. This program is one of few created specifically for elementary school students and has received national recognition, including a highly competitive Covenant Signature Grant.
Jewish Community Day School has also worked to build relationships across communities. Forged in 2015 between JCDS and the Islamic School of Rhode Island, Partners in Peace brings these two schools together for a day of service to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This is followed by fifth graders from both schools meeting weekly for three months of learning. This year, the program expanded to include Jewish and Muslim students from Brown University who have created an interactive curriculum that lays the foundation for direct action to support local organizations in Providence.
From Camp JORI
Our friends in Wakefield recently announced the addition of JORIPAC–a performing arts ‘Camp-Within-A-Camp.’ Open to teens in grades 7 – 10, this new JORI experience will immerse teens in every aspect of performance while still offering them all that a traditional Jewish overnight summer camp has to offer. Under the guidance of professionals within the fields of circus, musical theater, set design, and dance, campers will discover more about who they are as artists and individuals while making life-long friendships.
Although relying on different approaches, these programs tackle real-world issues like inclusivity, tolerance, race-relations, self-exploration, and self-realization, and do so by using Jewish values as their North Star. If that isn’t innovation worth celebrating, I don’t what is.
For those who missed it, the programs highlighted above were featured in recent issues of The Jewish Voice. You can read more about them here:
Going forward, I hope to share with you other stories of innovation from across our community and within the Alliance.
Wishing you a peaceful Shabbat.
Adam Greenman, President & CEO