By Lori Rubin, Chief Program Officer

What a fabulous day!  From start to finish, our first Mifgash (gathering) this past Sunday ran incredibly smoothly.  The buses arrived on time, the 5th graders were happily engaged, the teachers were prepared, and the structure and timing of the program as designed was a success.  Staff members and lay leaders from Jewish Learning Venture, Gratz College, and Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia have been working diligently for almost two years to plan this new initiative called Havayah.

Havayah is the Hebrew word for “experience,” and experiences are what the students were offered on Sunday.  After introductions and a rousing rendition of Hinei Ma Tov, students spent part of the morning in Tribe Time.  Each student was placed in one of 10 tribes with a peer or two from their home congregation.  The tribal leaders (the teachers) wore bandannas to signify their Tribal color – then the fun began!  Each tribe came up with a name, rules for the group, a banner, and a cheer.  Once they accomplished this goal, they shared the results with the other groups.

It was then time to introduce the theme of the first unit: Sacred Time. Through a game of “four corners,” students were exposed to different places they might visit in their lives and they decided which of the four spots they would prefer to visit.

After a few rounds of “four corners,” they were warmed up and ready to think about how those places might be sacred or holy.  Back in their tribes, they were given a paper bag with five random objects.  Their task was to create a 30 second skit using at least two objects and explain how they might be sacred or holy. The program culminated with each student choosing one of the places highlighted during the “four corners” game and describing in writing how that place is sacred or holy to them.

What an amazing start to an awesome year ahead.  We cannot wait to see all of our Havayah students at Mifgash #2 on Sunday, December 4th at Main Line Reform Temple.

For more information on Havayah, contact Lori Rubin, Director of the Havayah Program.