In an effort to achieve younger households, Temple Emanu-El opens an outpost in Chelsea

(New York Jewish Week) – For many dad and mom with younger youngsters, getting across the metropolis throughout rush hour — which normally coincides with dinnertime and “child witching hour” — generally is a monumental journey. For fogeys elevating Jewish children in downtown Manhattan, attending to the Higher East Aspect and even Midtown for Friday night Shabbat companies is a non-starter.

Temple Emanu-El, one of many largest and oldest Reform congregations within the metropolis, has an answer. If younger households can’t bodily get to the Jewish neighborhood, they’ll deliver the Jewish neighborhood nearer to them.  

This summer time, Emanu-El introduced a brand new downtown pilot program, designed to satisfy the growing want for Jewish programming in an space of town the place there are few non-Orthodox synagogues. Positioned contained in the Common Theological Seminary, a historic establishment at 440 West twenty first St. that’s affiliated with the Episcopal Church, Emanu-El Downtown, as it’s known as, will host programming for households and younger youngsters 5 days every week, together with a Friday morning pre-Shabbat celebration. 

“You possibly can’t count on individuals to come back to you, you must go to them,” stated Rabbi Joshua Davidson, who has been on the helm of Emanu-El’s clergy for almost a decade. 

The thought for extra Jewish programming beneath thirtieth Road got here from “recognizing there have been an incredible many people and households of the youthful era dwelling downtown, and likewise recognizing that we need to develop that inhabitants inside the congregation,” stated Davidson. He stated he’s been engaged on an thought for a downtown campus for greater than 5 years, although the pandemic delayed lots of the plans.

For fogeys in Chelsea like Jennifer Marks, who’s lived within the neighborhood for eight years, Emanu-El’s new campus means she’ll be capable to give her 1-year-old, Henry, the Jewish experiences that she at all times needed for him with out having to maneuver uptown or out of town to seek out it.

Once they do get to companies, Marks’ household heads to the East Aspect to a unique Reform Synagogue the place Henry’s grandparents belong. However that entails heading uptown on the subway throughout rush hour, packing dinner plus copious quantities of snacks, and racing dwelling with a view to make Henry’s bedtime.

“The timing for our household is de facto excellent,” Marks instructed the New York Jewish Week. “I grew up going to the JCC for preschool, so I used to be actually hoping that we may form of have an identical expertise for my son, Henry, however there have been actually no [Reform] synagogues which might be near us.”

“I’m excited for [Henry] to have the ability to have a bit of little bit of the Jewish taste to a few of his actions, as a result of he hasn’t had that but and I’ve actually needed that for him,” she added.

For now, Emanu-El Downtown will concentrate on programming for households with youngsters beneath 3. The purpose is to “create an area the place households can join with one another and revel in doing Jewish with one another,” stated director Dina Mann. 

Emanu-El Downtown is launching into its first yr of programming with a free New Yr Pageant on Sunday, Sept. 18. With over 200 individuals registered, potential households will be capable to meet one another and be taught extra about upcoming programming, in addition to attend a workshop by youngsters’s guide illustrator and creator Ann Koffsky and a musical efficiency by Ramblin’ Dan’s Freewheeling Band. 

“We’re asking, ‘What are the cool issues which might be occurring outdoors of the Jewish area that folks get pleasure from doing? What shops do they go to? What different packages do they attend? How can we deliver all these attention-grabbing individuals in New York Metropolis into the area and create dynamic programming?’” Mann stated of the programming philosophy.

The main focus of the downtown location won’t be worship, stated Mann. As a substitute, the lineup of workshops and courses all through the autumn features a twice-weekly playgroup for 2-year-olds, assist and expertise teams for brand new dad and mom and a weekly Hebrew music class. The packages are open to present members of Temple Emanu-El in addition to non-members, for now. 

As well as, the Chelsea campus will host an after-school non secular and Hebrew college for elementary school-aged college students, together with  transportation from the close by public elementary colleges.

For Jen Gellar, who lives in Chelsea, the Hebrew college possibility match precisely what she was on the lookout for for her 6-year-old daughter. “I’m actually excited that she has a bunch of her mates who she’s going to be doing this with each week,” Gellar, who stated that her daughter has a number of Jewish mates from her native public college. 

For this college yr, tuition is $1,925 for members and $2,950 for non-members. Nevertheless, the varsity is dedicated to not turning any pupil away for monetary causes and is providing scholarships, Mann stated.

“Temple Emanu-El is an inclusive area and we’re seeking to simply duplicate that inclusivity,” stated Mann of the brand new area. “Moreover, as a result of we’re downtown, there’s extra of a artistic, edgy neighborhood right here, and we need to create packages which might be thrilling and dynamic.”

The campus is being leased from the Common Theological Seminary at 440 w twenty first St. (Temple Emanu-El)

To discover a location for the brand new outpost, Emanu-El employed Cohen Middle for Fashionable Jewish Research at Brandeis College to survey Manhattan neighborhoods and determine the place Jews had been dwelling who is likely to be effectively served by new Jewish programming. The survey, which was carried out in 2020, discovered that there are 94,000 Jewish individuals beneath 59th Road, together with greater than 8,000 Jewish youngsters — about 15{66dc31293c2260cb9172669df609ae161dc6e72a8b49d2ae72b9a1fbbc7d2bf4} of the whole inhabitants. 

The survey additionally discovered a dearth of Reform congregations in Chelsea and Flatiron, specifically, which additionally occurred to have an ideal area for a brand new campus on the Common Theological Seminary, which Davidson stated has been a companion from very early on. Positioned in a historic Gothic Revival constructing virtually a full metropolis block lengthy and greater than 200 years previous, with a powerful inside courtyard and manicured gardens, its grandeur is likely to be one of many solely locations within the metropolis that may examine with the dramatic sanctuary in Temple Emanu-El’s sixty fifth Road location. For at the very least this primary yr of programming, Emanu-El is leasing the area from the seminary.

The opening of the downtown campus is consistent with Temple Emanu-El’s mission to achieve completely different demographics. “It’s the identical ideology that lies behind the Streicker Outreach Middle,” Rabbi Davidson stated, referring to its wide-ranging program of public occasions and courses. “We’re approaching three teams: younger professionals, unaffiliated households, and other people of any era who’re simply attempting to study and discover Jewish life.”

The downtown campus was made doable by “beneficiant philanthropy of members who assist the imaginative and prescient,” he added, and was raised by a particular items marketing campaign. He declined to specify how a lot cash was raised.

As for the long-term plan for Emanu-El Downtown, “We’re going to should see the place it goes,” Davidson stated. “My instinct is that there’s a inhabitants on the market that may embrace growing numbers of alternatives.”

“I’m excited to seek out methods to serve these inside the Jewish neighborhood who haven’t connected themselves but to at least one group or one other,” he added. “A few of these people will change into members, a few of them gained’t. However in some way, they’re seeing the establishment and the Jewish neighborhood as an essential touchpoint within the training of their youngsters.”

Temple Emanu-El Downtown’s New Yr Pageant will likely be Sunday September 18 from 3-5 pm at 440 W twenty first St. households can register right here

Hafidah Rosyid

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