When an influx of young families joined West End Synagogue last year, Rabbi Nadia Gold (WES Director of Family Engagement), identified a new and immediate need for programming to engage young kids:
“It was always my dream to start something that was fresh and different. I wanted to create a program that explored Jewish identity through the performing and visual arts. It is important for the kids to move and create with their hands and bodies rather than sit at a table listening to their teacher. My goal was to instill a love of being Jewish in the kids while developing a sense of community among them, and their families.”
The resulting program, Kef Kids, is open to all pre-K – 2nd graders and meets bi-monthly on Saturday afternoons, 2:00-3:30.
Kef Kids launched in January, 2015, with a pilot program open only to synagogue members. After Rabbi Gold spent five months testing the Kef Kids materials and various approaches, she gathered feedback from participants and parents. With some changes and a more fine-tuned curriculum that includes innovative programs—Hebrew Through Movement and The Dreamcoat Experience—Kef Kids is ready for an official launch and can accept more students for the 2015-2016 school year!
Hebrew Through Movement is based on the idea that in order to learn a language effectively, you should learn to hear and speak before studying how to read and write. To further engage students, this program uses movement to reinforce the meaning of the words.
“We are also thrilled to be using The Dreamcoat Experience for the movement piece of Kef Kids,” Rabbi Gold emphasized. The Dreamcoat Experience explores Jewish topics in creative ways: Torah stories through music; Hebrew through yoga; Jewish values through a circus performance.
At Kef Kids, students engage in interactive, fun experiences that truly resonate with them:
“My kids say to me, ‘Mama, can we go to synagogue today? Do we have Kef Kids?’ How great is that? I can’t remember asking that of my parents when I was a kid!” Sharon Cinnamon, parent of Kef Kids participants.
Kef Kids teaching team:
Rabbi Nadia Gold gained a wealth of experience as a congregational rabbi and a seasoned Jewish educator and youth advisor, before coming to WES. She holds a Master of Jewish Education from the Hebrew Union College’s New York School of Education.
Alexandra Ross brings years of camp experience to her warm and creative teaching style, and is excited to teach Kef Kids again this year.
Alexis Fishman, winner of the Next Broadway Musical Star competition, has been leading Tot Shabbat services at WES for several years and is an accomplished actress and singer.
Stav Meishar, founder and director of Dreamcoat Experience, is an Israeli performer and Jewish educator. Stav specializes in weaving her artistic skills into her teaching methods and has worked in a variety of settings with children of all ages and denominations.
Kef Kids meets two Saturdays a month, from 2:00-3:30pm at West End Synagogue – 190 Amsterdam Avenue (at 69th Street).
For registration information and materials, including dates and fees, visit: https://westendsynagogue.org/kef-kids-at-West-End-Synagogue