Cathy Rolland

Cathy Rolland

Inside Leadership
Smiling young children wearing Purim costumes and sitting on the bimah in a synagogue

In the coming weeks, the hallways of our congregations will be overflowing with preschool students and High Holiday crowds – and some of the families that will step through our doors will be longtime members, while others will be new to the community. Whether or not your congregation has an early childhood education center (ECEC), you have the opportunity to leverage these critical entry (or re-entry) points into Jewish life and engage these families.

Relating to and supporting families with young children is essential to growing and strengthening your congregation. To help you in...

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Bright and airy desktop with a laptop screen open to an animated Shaboom Shabbat video

You might’ve already seen the news: After 11 years of creating groundbreaking Jewish content online, BimBam (founded as G-dcast) announced today that it will cease active operations this spring. For more than a decade, BimBam has used vibrant digital storytelling to spark connections to Judaism for learners of all ages.

This is, of course, a loss to our community, as BimBam’s lively digital content – from parashiyot to holiday videos and everything in between – is truly innovative, creative, and invaluable to Jewish educators and parents alike.

But there’s good news, too....

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Two silhouetted men pushing giant puzzle pieces toward one another

Imagine the sight of dozens of face-painted children and the smell of barbeque. Imagine listening to their voices join in song for "Bim Bam Shabbat Shalom" and "Hinei Mah Tov." Soon, you hear squeals of delight from a bouncy castle and excited parents chatting about plans to bring their families back for similar outside fun at future Summer Shabbat Series events.

This engaging community experience actually happened as part of the Young Family Shabbat Carnival at Temple Sinai in Denver, CO. How did it come about? The parents, professional staff, teachers, and board created it...

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The Reform Movement is deeply commited to early childhood education, with congregations operating pre-schools of all types – formal, informal, full-time, part-time, and more – in an effort to engage families with young children in their communities.

But traditional models of early childhood education are no longer sufficient. This is the result of a number of factors: increasingly more working and single parents, an array of diverse family structures, and geographic dispersion, which makes it challenging for grandparents and other relatives to assist with childcare in the same ways...

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Engaging Families with Young Children

Every new parent understands the pressure and stress associated with finding the best ways to create a rich and fulfilling future for their children. Faced with societal expectations, money constraints, and more programmatic opportunities than ever for their young ones, Jewish life may not always make it to the top of the priority list.

As a part of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Communities of Practice work, we’re partnering with congregations (both those with and without preschools) to further and more effectively engage families with young children in congregational life. The...

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