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We are a Reconstructionist learning community that empowers, nourishes, supports, and launches families into engaged, meaningful Jewish life. 

We build community and relationships by planting roots in Reconstructionist Jewish traditions, while branching out toward everyday life through sacred practices and values.

JRC is transforming our Religious School with this dynamic, participatory program.

CHIdush wants to bring innovation to classrooms in synagogues around Chicago. By teaching rabbis, education directors and lay leaders the skills of innovation, the program hopes to invigorate congregation-based Jewish education, spark new ideas and approaches, and introduce the best practices used in schools around the country.

CHIdush – the name puts a Chicago spin on the Hebrew and Yiddish word for an innovative idea or insight – is a collaboration between the Jewish United Fund’s Community Foundation for Jewish Education.​

JRC’s Chidushim (Innovations) Implemented

JRC's Brayrot

Brayrot is JRC elective program for kids in 3rd – 6th grades where we teach Jewish values, texts, history and more in innovative and creative ways, and in mixed grade cohorts. Learners get to choose how best to engage, in what and how they learn, and are therefore able to connect more deeply and meaningfully. Each student can then go forth and draw upon first-hand knowledge, thereby enriching their life experience. Our brayrot are all rooted in the ancient, yet still contemporary notion that says: “Train up a child in the way they should go and even when they are old, they will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Hebrew Education

All of our grades continue to incorporate the principles of sound to print learning and Hebrew in developmentally appropriate ways. Grades 3-6th will continue to have Jewish life vocabulary incorporated into class meetings and electives, as well as our words of the week that weave through the themes. Additionally, 5th and 6th grade students will have small group Hebrew classes on Tuesdays focusing on decoding and b’nai mitzvah Hebrew preparation. Cohorts will be no more than 5 to achieve small groups and give students as much individual attention as possible.

Family Shabbat Education Days

Multiple times this year our program has held Family Shabbat Education Days where leaners and their adults attend together for family programming. This year we have focused in on different Jewish holidays – Hanukkah, Shabbat, Purim and Passover. We hold these programs on Shabbat to emphasize that Shabbat isn’t only being in services, but that creative learning, dancing, celebrating with meals, Torah study and more – all are beautiful and different ways that people experience and celebrate Shabbat.

Small Group Hebrew Cohorts

Formal decoding instruction begins in 5th and 6th grades. Our small group approach allows for students to connect with one another, with the educator, and for increased support for each student in their learning. Cohorts of 5 or fewer students. We offer several levels of instruction, as well as individualized tutoring for those who need a more 1:1 or differentiated approach.

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Using design thinking to continually improve our program?

Through the support of JUF Education, CHIdush works with leadership teams at each synagogue to develop new mindsets and skills that will empower them to create compelling educational experiences. Design thinking is use to continually improve our Religious School, and helps us to focuses on identifying wants and needs, not just solving problems.