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The Foundation for Family Education, Inc. ("FFE") was formed exclusively for charitable, educational and scientific purposes within the meaning of Internal Revenue Code ยง501(c)(3). In furtherance of its exempt purposes, FFE will research, create and implement pilot programs in the areas of family education for the Jewish community and the general community with special emphasis upon Outreach [Hebrew term "Kiruv"] to the disaffiliated and unaffiliated individuals and families, and for single-faith and dual-faith families. Equally important is Inreach to those who are formally affiliated with the Jewish community but are in need of encouragement for greater participation in a Jewish community.

Our families are in desperate need for experiences that provide spiritual content and which positively affect attitudes toward family and society. In addition, the role of parents in the family dynamic needs immediate attention. FFE can effectively address those needs with innovative programs that are derived from decades of congregational and community experience in addition to intense collaboration with nationally recognized family educators and Jewish educational agencies. The creation and implementation of pilot family education projects will raise the bar for family education expectations, and these projects themselves will make a significant difference in the lives of those families affected and upon the congregations and communities reached.

The Passover Seder is the second most observed ritual in the North American Jewish community (of more than 6 million Jews) and it is also rapidly becoming a ceremony observed in dual-faith families and even in Christian churches and schools.

Therefore, a family-friendly Passover Guide and Seder / Haggadah Supplement (the Passover Seder table service booklet) is one of the initial projects of FFFE, to create and market it via the FFFE web site. We can use the technology of the Internet to enable each individual, each family and each institution and school to customize the their own Seder. We hope to ultimately provide via the Web the opportunity for each family to create their own customized Haggadah camera-ready master for printing or for Web distribution.

Currently, there are too few family-friendly Haggadot available. Too few Haggadot that meet these needs are low-cost. Those that meet the needs and interests of such a wide spectrum of families, individuals, faith communities and even religious schools are needed, and the Web is a perfect instrument for distribution.

We have so many different human configurations for those attending a Seder: those who do read Hebrew and English, those who are attending as family or with friends but cannot read Hebrew. Perhaps it was the Hebrew or the length and level of expectation which has been keeping people from conducting a Seder or accepting a Seder invitation. A Hebrew / English / transliterated Haggadah seemed to be logical, and FFFE has led the way in this project. We also have been creating and making available Haggadot for a Model Seder, one for a "Novice" leader and participants, and some increasingly fuller.

FFFE will increasingly offer at our website "hands-on" learning experiences for the general community, in addition to the Jewish community, especially to churches and mosques, religious education for adults and children in addition to community clergy Seminaries. Each experience is built around a moment in the Jewish Calendar and the Life Cycle in addition to antiquities collected by Rabbi Lerner over the years. Hanukkah, Chanukah . . . No matter how you spell it, your group will never forget kindling 4000 year old clay oil lamps, seeing wicks made, how olive oil is a fuel for a lamp and the human body. They'll search out the "first" Hanukkiyah -which lamp was made during the Hasmonean period,- but without the traditional branches and shamash!

Illumination of a Megillah . . . Each participant is provided a page from one of the traditional megillot, especially Purim and interprets the Biblical narrative in the wide margins using a wide variety of artistic mediums. You can even produce your own megillah for use in the synagogue for the holidays.

Shofar blast Workshop! . . . The sound of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah takes us back to special "shofar" recollections for us all, when we were very young and marveled at the shapes and blasts. How does the shofar work? How can we make one for ourselves? Can we each learn to blow the shofar? How different are they from one another?

What is a Sofer? . . . Explore in the world of Torah, Tefillen and Mezuzah and the scribes who write them! There arel aws, customs and traditions from different times and different parts of the world.. How then are Tefillen made - the parchment, the pen, the ink, the lines, the laws about the letters and the text. How are tefillen worn? What is different in writing a Sefer Torah? What are the rules regarding the mezuzah and the megillah and what should each of us know as a consumer in purchasing a sefer Torah, Tefillen or a mezuzah and even megillah.

Tefillen and Tallit Workshop . . . How are Tefillen manufactured? What makes them "kosher?" What should a pre-Bar/Bat Mitzvah family know to make meaningful decisions in purchasing and using tefillen and tallit. How is a Tallit produced?

Lag B'Omer and Archery . . . Who wouldn't thrill to handle an arrowhead from the time of King David 3000 years ago, or used in the Bar Kochba revolt. See ancient arrowheads mounted on modern arrows and shot. Study archery in Jewish tradition with a Rabbi who is also former national champion. Learn the many ways in which archery is part of the Jewish tradition, especially with the 33rd day of the Omer count.

A Sweet Savor . . . Have you ever wondered how the incense of the ancient sanctuary smelled? Examine a collection of raw and refined spices that were once used to produce the incense for the Temple and experience the Torah's "sweet savor."

FFFE intends to provide "Chef Rabou," a hands-on Family Education inter-generational cooking/food experience for children and parents. "Chef Rabou" is the alternate "persona" and these programs are offered throughout the Greater Philly and Southern New Jersey to religious leaders, synagogues and their formal and informal education programs in addition to JCCs and day schools. A traditional, kosher kitchen will be constructed and transported to site where "Chef Rabou" will teach the preparation of an actual menu or specific recipes for a holiday meal. In addition to teaching family values and Jewish holiday information as requested, FFFE's program will also teach the principles of the kosher kitchen and model opportunities for children and parents to relate during cooking. The Chef meets with the teachers afterwards in a consultation about hands-on family education program planning.

FFE offers parent-child kosher cooking classes to those who wish to continue the positive experience from the program presentations above. Connections with a local congregation have provided a collaborative opportunity. Similarly, informal education programs not requiring congregational affiliation may enable more youth to take advantage of such sessions.

There are many "outreach" programs to unaffiliated dual-faith families in every community, but often institutions provide them all with a primary interest in affiliating the family with those institutions. There is rarely a neutral Outreach effort whose only purpose is to meet the needs and interests of the dual-faith family - as well as the disaffiliated and unaffiliated Jewish families. Too often, there is an apparent underlying synagogue or community agenda of such a program that is to increase rolls, and thereby possibly its income from traditional membership fees, building fund contributions, gifts and tuition for children in religious school.

Currently, Dr. Barry Dov Lerner, also an experienced pulpit Rabbi, is collaborating with the Jewish Children and Family Service (JCFS) of Greater Philadelphia and "Faithways." JCFS receives a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia to meet the family education needs of unaffiliated dual-faith families. An affiliated dual-faith family is defined as a family (i) in which one of the partners is Jewish, (ii) with or without children, and (iii) that is not affiliated with any religious institution. FFFE does not charge for any of these programs nor for the consultations with interested families.

Recommendations and suggestions that you would like the Foundation to create and implement that would serve the members of the general and the Jewish community are very welcome.

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Last modified 2008-04-08 07:31 PM
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