Israelis in Brooklyn
“Israelis in Brooklyn” empowers Israeli-immigrants to develop ways to create community and acceptance in the context of mainstream American Jewish synagogue life. The program achieves its goal of “Creating Community” through Hebrew immersion, social and cultural programs; child and family education; formal and informal programming in homes and neighborhoods; and through a website featuring stories, photos, and hundreds of individual blog topics that inspire dialogue in Hebrew and English across the world. Israelis in Brooklyn is the brainchild of Yehudit Feinstein, an immigrant mother who desired a community for her young family. With limitless imagination, a partnership with Congregation Beth Elohim (CBE), and ignition funding from Jewish philanthropic organizations, Yehudit has energized her fellow Israeli-immigrants to create for themselves ‘a little slice of home in the Big Apple.’
History of Israelis in Brooklyn
In April 2010, Yehudit Feinstein made a decision that ultimately would change hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. At the time, Yehudit was an Israeli artist and educator living in New York City. She worked as an educator at Congregation Beth Elohim (CBE) in Brooklyn in addition to being the mother of twin boys. Feeling isolated from her homeland, she tenaciously sought a community that would expose her young family to Israeli life. She looked throughout NYC for Hebrew-immersion day-care that felt “Israeli-style” and not ultra-orthodox. Finding nothing, Yehudit took matters in her own hands and launched a Google Group for the Israelis she knew, many of whom lived nearby in Brooklyn. Hence, “Israelis in Brooklyn” came to life.
Even Yehudit could not have imagined the vast need addressed by her listserv. The online group grew rapidly as participants invited their colleagues, friends and family and, a few months later, tracked thousands of visitors from all over the world. Andy Bachman (visionary and Senior Rabbi of CBE) offered his Congregation as a host site for an informal gathering of the locals on the listserv. Dozens of families attended and feverishly exchanged contact information and calendared/planned/ future meet-ups Rabbi Bachman and Yehudit were moved and, with immediate financial support from the Charles H. Revson Foundation, CBE launched a formal program dedicated to serving this community.
In a few short months CBE launched Israeli-style social, communal and holiday events. They began a Hebrew immersion program for young children and created programming to help parents confront the alienation, stigma and sense of betrayal associated with their immigration choices—a topic that has deep emotional consequences. For instance, the derogatory label of yordim signifies that an Israeli immigrant has descended from Israel to the diaspora, as opposed to olim—signifying those who have ascended from the diaspora to Israel. The programming created allowed the Israeli community to discuss this issue and others, including the yearning for acceptance in America and the desire to impart to their American-born children a uniquely Israeli identity. It also allowed for the creation of a special community, and today, Israelis in Brooklyn is a recognized program of CBE, Yehudit is a senior member of the staff, and the following programs are offered to the entire Synagogue community.
Keshet meets weekly to explore aspects of Israeli/Jewish identity, Hebrew, Jewish values and holidays in their uniquely Israeli rendering. This innovative program instills the beauty of Israeli culture and Judaism to students, drawing on music, art, drama, stories and games. At Keshet we are dedicated to providing our children with a learning environment that nurtures their growth, curiosity and self-esteem. Our lively, hands-on curriculum is developed through direct observation of children’s interests and individual needs. Click here for more details.
At keshet we have 2 tracks: Hebrew immersion for Hebrew speakers and dual language for non-Hebrew speakers. Our teaching team is Israeli. A unique Israeli Hebrew curriculum
Keshetot is an innovative music, story, art and movement program for infants and toddlers – the first of its kind in the New York area. It is a place to learn and explore Israeli songs, stories and culture, celebrate holidays and share our love to Israel.
Keshetot is conducted exclusively in Hebrew and run by Israeli teachers. It is where families can meet other families and deepen a sense of community with flavors from Israel. We are based in Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope and enjoy all the wonderful equipment and facilities it has to offer.Click here for more information.
Israeli-style Shabbat—held the last Friday of every month in the CBE ballroom.
The program will start on September 2012.
IsraelisinBrooklyn.org is the only online forum in the world exclusively devoted to building community between Israelis living in America among the American Jewish community.For more information contact Yehudit Feinstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-768-3814 ext. 264.
This program is funded in part by the UJA federation of NYC.