Chavaya (Religious School) is inspired by the powerful learning and identity formation that takes place at Jewish camps and in youth groups. Groups learn together in two-grade units through art, music, stories, Aydah (unit) time, bayit time (small groups) and more. At Chavaya learners feel a deep connection to the Temple Israel community and the Jewish community as a whole, and are able to express how Judaism is relevant and meaningful to themselves

The purpose of Chavaya is for our participants to develop strong relationships with the Jewish community through the lens of prayer Hebrew, Bible stories, Shabbat and Holidays, Israel, Lifecycle, Jewish values and Jewish history. We seek to engage in Judaism through knowledge, action, spiritual encounters and community participation.

Temple Israel’s Chavaya program, is under the capable leadership of Rebecca Elkus-Ferst, the Director of Education: Youth & Families, who began her work here in July 2012. Rebecca has developed the Chavaya program since its inception and worked alongside our clergy and team of Chavaya educators to ensure its relevance and accessibility in children’s lives.  Rebecca attended college at Michigan State University and holds a BA in Journalism and a specialization in Jewish Studies. In between college and graduate school she spent a year studying in Israel. While in graduate school Rebecca interned at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, A Living Memorial to the Holocaust and assisted in the creation of the Coming of Age During the Holocaust, Coming of Age Now pilot program. She served as the Assistant Director of Education/Youth & Family Programming at Congregation Habonim in Manhattan following her graduation from JTS from 2009-2012. During this time she piloted the congregation’s teen learning, social and social action program and developed curricular guides for the religious school. Rebecca is a past fellow of the Leadership Institute: Shaping Congregational Leaders and Learners and Matan Institute for Education Directors, working on a communal approach to helping children with special needs.

There are two additional components to the Chavaya program that make it unique: using Madrichim (teen assistants) in the 7th-12th grade, and Boker B’Yachad (Morning Together)/Family Education.

Madrichim are teen assistants in 7th-12th grade in the Chavaya program. This is an optional and fun opportunity for teens to help in the Chavaya program and serve as a dugma (role model) for younger participants. Madrichim work with Chavaya groups and educators and help with various aspects of the program including, but not limited to: games, art activities, gathering supplies for projects, working one-on-one with participants on topics the group is learning about, etc.

Boker B’Yachad (Morning Together) on Sundays:

Parents are invited to spend Sunday morning with their children, their children’s educators and the clergy twice during the programming year. In addition, adults will have time to study the theme of the morning with one of the clergy.



Mi Shebeirach