Posted on August 26th, 2015

ARJE/Kutz Madrikhim Minor

I had the honor of representing the Association of Reform Jewish Education (ARJE) on faculty at the URJ Kutz Camp this summer. This was the first year that ARJE and Kutz partnered to provide a Madrikhim training minor for the participants. This minor took place the entire session and we had seven teens take advantage of this opportunity. These teens came from all over the country, from large synagogues to small synagogues, from Religious Schools that had many Madrikhim to schools that didn’t offer it as an option at all. But all seven participants had one thing in common…they loved being Jewish and wanted to help make the Jewish educational experience for the kids in their synagogues the best possible!

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ARJE was represented by four educators, one each week: Rabbi Joui Hessel, Dr. Madelyn Mishkin Katz, Rabbi Melissa Zalkin Stollman, and myself. I joined Kutz the final week of camp. I did not know what to expect when I arrived. Would they have covered all the material necessary? Would they be engaged? I was overwhelmed by their response. This group of teens not only were engaged, they were inspired and passionate about Jewish education. They wanted to learn how to be the best Madrikhim and to bring those skills home to their congregations.

Throughout the almost 20 hours of training, we explored child development, inquisitive questioning, pedagogy, multiple intelligences, different types of learners, how to understand children with special needs, culminating with each teen creating and writing their own lesson plan to bring back to their home synagogue (one even wrote an entire prayer curriculum!).

These are the best of the best… our future leaders, teachers in our synagogues and even Jewish professionals. I am honored to have been here to build relationships with these amazing teens and look forward to seeing what they accomplish back home. Their educators, schools and synagogues will greatly benefit from the experience these seven young people received. I know as a Director of Education, I struggle to find enough time to train our Madrikhim. I am so glad the URJ Kutz Camp partnered with the ARJE to provide this opportunity.

Marisa Kaiser is the Director of Education at Temple Sinai in Atlanta, GA and a Vice President of the Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE).