The Jewish community of Kiev and the much smaller community in Chernovitz were chosen by the MILI Fund of Ukraine as pilot cities for implementing their innovative experiential Batei Midrash project. The Batei Midrash project, which combines the arts with the study of Midrash, targets young families with children ages 5-15, some of who are completely new to Judaism and others who are enrolled in Jewish Sunday schools. An expected 95 participants – in total, in both locations – will take part in the project, which will meet twice a month for 2-hour sessions each time, over the course of 18 sessions.
Three tracks are being offered as part of the ‘arts’ component of the project: theater, cooking or art. Parents and children will spend time together studying midrashim related to the track they’ve chosen and then prepare performances, meals and artwork related to the midrashim that they studied. Parents will also participate in advanced study sessions without their children. An annual Shabbaton brings together participants from both cities for a weekend of creative workshops, learning and a shared Shabbat experience.
Staff training is a significant part of the project. In addition to local project coordinators in Kiev and Charovitz, an Israel-based pedagogic consultant will conduct in-service training, provide consultation and guidance for the pedagogic staff, prepare educational materials and develop the programming for the Shabbatonim.
The Pincus Fund for Jewish Education recognizes the need to support innovative programs that interest Jewish families in taking a more active part in their communities. In addition to the exciting content offered, the project provides a venue for networking between the small community of Chernovitz, where there are only some 4,000 Jews, and the larger Jewish community of Kiev, with an estimated 40,000.