Early Childhood Education (ECE) in 2015-16
Highlights of our year:
This year was full of firsts! We welcomed Liz Schwandt as the new Director of Early Childhood Education. Liz has been instrumental in reshaping our preschool curriculum and all of our early childhood programming at SIJCC.
Our staff grew this year, with the addition of both new teachers and aides. All staff have adopted new practices related to curriculum tracking and the use of age-appropriate developmental frames to target with their classes. Our teachers have all also benefitted from professional development mentoring and coaching throughout the year under our new leadership. Our parents also experienced a difference this year in our parent teacher conferences. Our teachers, administrators and parents are all working together as a team to support our students.
We have begun a new pipeline of support for early family life here at SIJCC. In the spring we offered our pilot of a program called KNOW Your Baby, a brand new infant neurodevelopment group led by Liz, which brought together new parents and infants (ages 2-5 months and 6-12 months). Our goal is to increase community awareness of the SIJCC as a resource for parenting and family life in the community. We plan to manualize and replicate our model of support and information sharing so that it can be utilized with as many families as possible.
This year our preschool went digital! We initiated new password-protected parent and staff websites, creating a place to safely house information specific to our community members, we moved all of our enrollment online, and we launched a new system called Kinderlime which will streamline everything from tuition payments to sign-in, to interaction between teachers and parents.
Friday Shabbats continue to be a warm, special time in the preschool when all families come together on our campus for a weekly celebration. In September and January we took Shabbat to Griffith Park for a fun change of scenery. And our Shabbat band keeps growing. We have a number of parents who join us every Friday, making beautiful music with guitars, mandolins, and even an accordion! In June we welcomed many familiar faces back to our campus for the second annual Best of the Shabbat Band Celebration. Current and past preschool friends and parents came together to play music, sing and celebrate the passing of another school year.
"In addition to being a magical place for our daughter, the community of parents, teachers and staff have redefined our sense of belonging as a family living in Los Angeles." - Emma Jacobson-Sive, ECE Parent
Photo credit: Allison Wyper
East Side Jews (ESJ) in 2015-16
Highlights of our year:
ESJ was busy this year! In the fall we held our favorite event of the year, Down to the River, and welcomed 120 friends to join us for our annual tashlich by the L.A. river, followed by our annual Light up the Night event in December when we come together to laugh and examine the many ways in which LA Jews celebrate the holidays.
We held our last Last Sabbath of 2015 as a post-Christmas bagel brunch at the Silver Lake Meadow. Bagels and lox were homemade by local baker Jason Kaplan and complemented by coffee and mimosas, naturally. Fifty people came out to nosh—almost twice our monthly average of 25 Last Sabbath attendees!
In the spring we had a number of events with partner organizations, including a women’s workshop at Maker’s Mess led by Custom & Craft, a performance and talk with Shanaan Street in partnership with IKAR, SIJCC’s Community Seder with activities provided by Reboot’s Beyond Bubbie and music by Mostly Kosher, and Nu Art Project’s Seder Art Night in June, which awarded one artist with a microgrant, decided by the event’s attendees.
We kicked off our summer with Pastronomy - a gastronomic tour of pastrami in DTLA. 40 new and old friends joined us downtown as we walked, rode the metro together and tasted samples from Langers, Wexler’s, Dog Haus and Stocking Frame. Look out for more food tours in the future! We also held film screenings in The Workshop, our new small event/meeting space on campus. Together we watched Dazed and Confused as a part of our Summer Series, and Anders Wo with the Los Angeles Israeli Film Festival.
Last Sabbath took us all around the east side to Echo Park, Hache LA, Far East Plaza, Cha Cha Cha, Cowboys and Turbans, Wood Handcrafted Pizza, Barella Bar, Vista Hermosa Park and more.
In addition, this year we launched our ESJ Members’ pass as a way for communtiy members to show their support for ESJ and get a few great perks, too!
"I really appreciate the inclusive nature that ESJ cultivates, and I love being part of a great community of friendly, progressive, interesting people on the east side" - Piper Kamins, East Side Jew
photo credit: Joel Serot
Jewish Learning Center (JLC) in 2015-16
Highlights of our year:
The Jewish Learning Center continued to grow this year. By the end of the year we had 138 students (hard to believe that we started with 20 students only 7 years ago!). We have already crossed the 150 mark for the current school year, too!
More students this past year celebrated unique, personalized b’nai mitzvahs this year, as we continued to refine and grow our program and offerings. Celebrations took place everywhere from Joshua Tree to Malibu, a family’s backyard and Elysian Park.
Our JLC teachers participated in more thorough trainings throughout the year as a team, and our leaders worked hard to create a unique, dynamic and complete curriculum for grades k-8. We are thrilled to be expanding to include a teen program this coming year, as our core community keeps growing and the demand for more kid and young adult programming keeps growing.
JLC parents continued to participate in parallell learning through our Sunday Symposium as their children were in their JLC classes. Symposium topics included The Four Children of Passover: Framing the Approaching Holiday Through Our Own Experiences, Learning identities - Trying out Informal Education, The Wandering Jew: Portrayals of Jews in 1930s American Cinema, Containing Multitudes: Jewish Identity in Multi-Faith Families, Creativity Play: A Key to the Soul, Connection With the Divine and Parent’s Torah: Spiritual Lessons Children Teach Us.
We held an all-school excursion to the Islamic Center to make hygiene kits and bagged lunches for the homeless as a joint service project. While students met and participated in service learning together, parents participated in an open discussion aimed at breaking down barriers and increasing understand among Muslim and Jewish families. The program was a huge success. Check out this video about our experience.
Our final JLC of the year included the most epic pot luck that SIJCC has ever seen. All of our families come together, parents joined students in the classes to hear about what they’d learned, we watched a movie highlighting the past year at JLC, and we all took a tour of the new Cultural Wing!
"SIJCC is on cutting edge of 21st century Judaism because it takes the vitality of the community and grows it. The exceeding intelligence, enthusiasm, and commitment of the JLC faculty brings this passion and knowledge to our kids." - Michael Alexander, JLC Parent and Maimonides Chair in Jewish Studies, University of California, Riverside
Photo credit: Adam Shalachman
SIJCC in 2015-16
Highlights of our year:
This year was full of many exciting changes to SIJCC’s campus, and we welcomed numerous new faces to our community. The Klub Gymnastics moved to their new building in frog town in January, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect! As our own programs, outside rentals and other offerings for the community on our campus have grown, so has the need to expand our foot print. We are thrilled to be reclaiming our full campus and have fun imagining all of the possibilities that lie ahead.
Countless friends participated in our community brainstorm to imagine what kinds of programs could live in our new space, and 70 friends joined us for Demo Day, when we took the first steps to remodel what we now call our Cultural Wing.
By the summer we opened up a new office annex in the Cultural Wing, putting SIJCC’s program staff closer to the action and now expanding our reach across the campus at both entrances. We remodeled the bathrooms and opened The Box (a 4,000 sq. foot multi-use exhibition and event space), The Workshop (small meeting/co-working/event space), and The Studio (for classes like ballet and yoga).
Friends joined us on campus for our annual Community Seder, movie screenings, JLC and ECE family potlucks, birthday parties, ballet classes, yoga, breath work, choir and soccer. Local entrepreneurs and artists used our space for weekly co-working. We learned how to mix cocktails, make challah and speak spanish. Community members learned a new instrument, perfected their elevator pitches and discovered how to craft the perfect story.
Our whole community came together this year for a number of fun events -- our 2nd annual Cabaret at Mack Sennett and our spring Gala at the Paramour Estate were both hugely successful fundraisers for the Center (and we had a lot of fun!). The Festival of Lights in December welcomed 300+ community members to our campus. We enjoyed face painting, our world-famous bake sale, pupusas, kids’ woodworking, live performances and more.
We grew our outside rentals program this year, too, and are now home to a number of other organizations, including a local church and the LA Chinese Cultural Center. We’re excited for our space to be a home for friends of all backgrounds and faiths.
In the coming year, we’re trying to say "yes" to as much as possible as we look for ways to expand both our own programs and our rentals to other community organizations. If you have ideas for new programs or other ways to use our space, please let us know!
"SIJCC is a true center of community where people of all backgrounds and beliefs can gather to create, share ideas and celebrate the unique gifts that we each bring to the world." - Michael Kass, SIJCC community member
Photo credit: James Crocker, C3 Church