A gem of an educational program

YOUNG LEARNERS—Children take part in the JEWELS education program sponsored by Valley Outreach Synagogue, based in Calabasas. Courtesy photo

YOUNG LEARNERS—Children take part in the JEWELS education program sponsored by Valley Outreach Synagogue, based in Calabasas. Courtesy photo

Valley Outreach Synagogue will host the 10-year anniversary of its JEWELS educational program with a family Shabbat dinner Fri., Sept. 21.

JEWELS (Jewish education: wisdom, ethics, Hebrew literacy and service) founders, past and present board members, educators, students and their families will celebrate the past 10 years of the program at the event.

A decade ago, a group of parents, educators and lay leaders gathered in the Oak Park home of Rabbi Ron and Bronwen Li-Paz, brainstorming how to instill a love of Judaism in their school-age children.

Inspired by the concept of “beit-midrash,” a Jewish communal house of learning, they envisioned a home-based Judaic education.

Rather than heading to another academic class after a day in a school setting, VOS committed to engaging children’s Jewish souls in their homes.

What began 10 years ago as two groups of fourth- and fifth-graders has since expanded into life-long learning for all ages, from infancy through seniors.

“When our three children started JEWELS six years ago, it was a small, developing program,” said JEWELS parent Leslie Rubenfeld. “The innovative spirit, coupled with the warm, homey setting, was ideal.”

“Our youngest child went through JEWELS from kindergarten to bar mitzvah and is continuing as a teen. Our other two children travelled with the rabbi on a teen community service trip to an impoverished part of Mexico,” said Rubenfeld.

For more information, email director of education Carla Adivi at cadivi@vosla.org.