Founded in 2011, the Center for the Study and Dissemination of Judaism and Zionism conducts educational initiatives for the some 1,600 Jews, of all ages and backgrounds, who live in Finland. The project includes the following components:
- A B’nei Mitzvah program which offers children and their parents individual and group classes and activities on Jewish identity, history and traditions. The b’nei mitzvah children also attend a 2-day camp twice during the year, where they have the opportunity to be immersed in Jewish life and observe the mitzvoth.
- The Jewish Academy offers community members educational lectures and dynamic workshops to deepen their knowledge of Jewish tradition and Zionism, and strengthen their Jewish identity. Weekly Hebrew language lessons and other classes are also being offered.
- A Jewish-Israeli Library comprised of Hebrew books is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays and conducts a children’s story hour, craft activities, and lectures for adults, in Hebrew, presented by community members.
- A Club for Young Children, birth to three years old and their families, meets twice monthly. Each session presents a topic connected to the Jewish year or to Jewish life, and includes song, movement, and free play activities.
- Guest lecturers participate in Shabbat and community activities, speaking on a variety of topics. The Center also arranges and hosts community celebrations of Jewish holidays, including activities for children and traditional holiday dinners.
- A club for young adults, ages 18-30, conducts Shabbat dinners, discussions of Jewish topics, Hebrew language classes, and field trips. A new Leadership Program is in place as well.
- A club for children and youth creates and implements fun activities with Jewish spirit and Jewish educational components.
The project also conducts activities in the Jewish day school, including study days during school vacations, and “Friday school”, with a Shabbat program for children in gan-grade 2, that runs from the end of the regular school day through the start of Shabbat.
The project launched in 2012 and received addition support from the Pincus Fund to continue the excellent work it began. According to the Jewish Community of Finland, the project has transformed informal Jewish education in Helsinki. The activities which it implements did not exist before the project began, and they have been well received by participants and their families. Since the start of the project, enrollment in the community kindergarten and day school has increased significantly.