Shalom Discovery: A New Approach to Jewish Learning and Engagement for Young Children and Families

Organization: Jewish LearningWorks, San Francisco, CA

Grant Year: 2012

Project Director: Rabbi Joshua Fenton

Type of Grant: Signature

Grant Amount: $145,500.00 (3 years)

Website: http://www.jewishlearningworks.org/

To support the launch of a program aimed at keeping children, in kindergarten through second grade, and their families engaged in Jewish programming. This project was later renamed as Shalom Explorers. Shalom Explorers formed a non-institutional framework for learning and engagement of young children and their families, employing scouting, family engagement, and individualized home/family-based learning, with bridges to deeper Jewish communal involvement. Neighborhood-based scouting groups led by parents and teens met in homes and parks and utilized an experiential curriculum. Students pursued individualized study programs, with parent involvement, toward achievement of badges in harmony with family educational priorities. Books, multi-media, and online educational resources were used. Family social groups (similar to chavurot) formed around the scouting groups. Family groups focused on building friendships and experiencing Jewish life and learning in community in fun and meaningful activities. The scouting groups, family groups, and individualized learning integrated with each other, reinforcing meaningful, educational, and enjoyable Jewish communal experiences.