“What I really want for my son,” said the mother of the rising 6th grader to Rabbi Jamie Korngold, “is for him to like being Jewish and to make some Jewish friends.”
This is a common sentiment among parents who seek out Adventure Judaism’s alternative religious school, Adventure Rabbi Kids (ARK). Since the Sunday school only meets monthly, it’s an easy way for busy families to engage Jewishly without giving up soccer, skiing, theater, or fill-in-the-blank with your family’s commitments.
Rabbi Jamie explains, “The goal of ARK is to provide some really strong touchpoints that anchor the kids to Judaism, while not asking too much of their time. We try to pack learning-adventure-fun-and friendship into a very concise time frame, and I think we are good at it.” In another conversation, she described her teaching style as, “time-released-Judaism,” meaning she gives people little nuggets of learning that slowly percolate into their lives.
This will be Rabbi Jamie’s first year teaching the 5-6th-grade class. She explains that when the board asked her to take over the 5-6th-grade class, which starts August 25, the first thing she did was ask the parents what they loved about it and what they thought needed improvement. The board also collected surveys and called past and current families. There was a strong agreement that families wanted more adventure, more attention paid to facilitating friendships, more classes (but not too many more), and a little B’nai Mitzvah preparation.
“Fortunately, their requests play right to my strengths,” says Rabbi Jamie. “I don’t really get why it’s so hard for kids to make friends when they attend activities and camps, but I know that it is. I’ve seen it with my own kids too. Everyone stays with the friends they came with. But I happen to be really good at helping them reach out to each other and make new friends.” And then she shrugged and added, “It’s just one of my things. It’s really important to me.”
And of course, since her moniker is the Adventure Rabbi, there is no one doubt that she will bring in more adventure. Looking at the class schedule, the class is going to deliver. It begins with a visit to a ropes course on August 25 and then continues with a hike on September 8 during which the kids will be learning about Moses and compassionate leadership. This sounds like Sunday school in true Adventure Rabbi style.
To learn more,visit the Advenure Judaism website.