Over this long winter, as many of the pandemic-safe methods that communities used to stay connected in warmer weather have not been available, families at BEKI have been creative in finding alternative ways to maintain community and celebrate Jewish life.
BEKI USY has planned hardy outdoor gatherings when possible. Most recently, the teens met in a public park on a snowy afternoon to celebrate Tu Bishvat. The teens kept their blood moving with tree-themed yoga poses and ate individual bags of fruit and nut trail mix (aka “Tu Bishvat Seder in a Bag”).
Teen drivers in the USY youth group made touch-free home deliveries of Chanukah gifts and Purim Shalach Manot baskets to every high schooler in the synagogue community. The packages also included supplies for activities to complete together at USY Zoom parties for the two holidays.
Families with younger kids received care packages in the mail with Jewish craft materials, holiday-themed snacks, and soft-stuffed Torah scrolls—just like the ones at in-person BEKI Shabbat morning services.
One of the hardest things about not being in the synagogue building is being separated from the BEKI Children’s Library. This is an exciting time for the library, which is currently being refreshed and gaining many new books, thanks to a gift in memory of Barbara Rader. In the meantime, Jewish books are going to BEKI families in two ways: circulating current library books by request via no-touch drop off at home and recommending e-books through the free Hoopla public library app. Hoopla's e-book offerings vary based on which town issued the library card but, in general, the app offers a variety of online children's books with Jewish themes. Recently recommended favorites include Miriam at the River by Jane Yolen and Nachshon, Who Was Afraid to Swim by Deborah Bodin Cohen.
Coming soon, middle schoolers in BEKI's Kadima youth group will receive their own copies of a Jewish young adult book, in preparation for a new Kadima Book Club.
The outdoor Shabbat morning services held during the warm months of the pandemic have been adapted to a “pop-up” model. If the weather will be above freezing with no rain or snow, the word goes out in the Thursday email that Pop Up Family Shabbat is on! Pop Up Shabbat is a quick, parent-led outdoor service in the BEKI courtyard, suitable for all ages of children.
For more information, contact Annie Norman-Schiff, Youth and Family Programming Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.