- Learning Opportunities
- Annual GJC Family Retreat
- Tot Programming (JAM: Jewish Arts & Movement, Tot Shabbat & Shabbat Warmup Storytime)
- Children’s Shabbat Services & Holiday Programming
- Rabbinic Support
Parent-to-Parent Learning & Parent Workshops
GJC offers workshops and learning opportunities throughout the year for parents with children of all ages. Parent-to-Parent Learning is a time for study and idea sharing, arranged by parents for parents. Past programs have addressed topics such as Bar and Bat Mitzvah planning, the American Presidency seen through the eyes of a journalist and historian, and teens and digital media. Be on the lookout for workshops led by Rabbi Adam Zeff, covering topics such as how to engage young children in the Pesach seder and how to incorporate ritual moments into your family’s everyday life.
Annual GJC Family Retreat
The GJC Young Families Retreat is an annual event held at a retreat center in Malvern. For one lovely weekend, dozens of families have a chance to play, laugh, pray, study, and unwind. Last year 84 GJC members—the kids ranged in age from infants to tweens—spent Shabbat together. At the retreat center, families stay in suites with private baths, and vegetarian meals are provided. There is programming for all ages, and babysitting for the youngest ones. We join together for Kabbalat Shabbat, and the kids and parents have separate morning services. The kids love riding bikes on the trails, playing sports, making playdough, and splashing in sprinklers. Parents’ programs include a book group, yoga, text study, and parenting discussions. In the evenings we enjoy our own improv comedy show and music. After the kids go to sleep, parents have a chance to hang out and get to know each other. We are honored that one of GJC’s rabbis joins us each year. New families are encouraged to join us! We offer financial aid, and we want the weekend to be accessible for all. Contact Maria Pulzetti with any questions.
“I love the retreat, because I watch kids growing into people, and parents growing into friends.” It is an opportunity for all of us to build and deepen our connections to each other and to GJC.” ~ Craig Barkan
JAM Tot-Family Programming
Germantown Jewish Centre’s JAM (Jewish Arts and Movement) programming, sponsored by the Harold & Renee Berger Family Engagement Endowment Fund, and supported by the Stanley R. Wolfe Foundation, brings families with young children together for creative and engaging experiences around Shabbat and Jewish holidays throughout the year. Each year, a series of unique, hands-on programs, targeted towards children age 1 to 5, offers families the opportunity to explore Judaism together in a kinetic, whole-body way, singing, moving, dancing, creating, listening, thinking and connecting. Guest artists collaborate with GJC rabbis to lead Shabbat services, afternoon programs and other events with song, dance, storytelling, art, music, puppetry and more. Relationships are at the heart of synagogue engagement, and each JAM program is built to provide an atmosphere of welcome and inclusion, providing a solid foundation for families to build meaningful and lasting relationships with each other, and to influence GJC culture in new and positive ways. Advanced registration is necessary. Look for details through the year in upcoming and spotlight events, or stay connected by joining our JAM Facebook group.
“JAM programming has been a great opportunity for our daughter to learn about Jewish holidays in a fun and relaxed setting and for our whole family to grow closer to the GJC community. We feel connected and know there is a place where we belong as a result of the relationships we’ve built during, after and between the JAM events. We look forward to the next JAM event!” ~ Burgandy Holiday and David Kanthor
Tot Storytime at Big Blue Marble Bookstore
Join Rabbi Alanna throughout the year for Shabbat warm-ups filled with stories, songs and crafts, including extra-special, holiday-themed storytime events. Check our website calendar for upcoming dates. (offsite at 551 Carpenter Lane)
LISTEN while puppets teach the week’s Torah portion through story. SING familiar songs. LAUGH as tambourines tumble. DANCE while parading through the space. CONNECT with other families in the community. Join Rabbi Adam Zeff for summer Tot Shabbat in a lively half-hour service where puppets teach the week’s Torah portion. There will be stories and songs, lots of laughter, a basketful of tambourines, and a parade. After the service, connect with other families in the community around the table as Centre Catering (under Traditional Kosher Supervision) provides a delicious, tot-friendly Shabbat dinner. Advance RSVP is necessary by the Wednesday before each service. Check our website calendar for upcoming dates!
Our beautiful and well equipped playground is available for our congregants to enjoy throughout the year and has become the focal point of the “playground minyan,” a warm and welcoming group of young families who spend time there during Shabbat services on temperate Saturday mornings.
Children’s Shabbat Services
Musical Marching Minyan – 10:00am: The Musical Marching Minyan is a high-spirited, action-packed monthly musical prayer service for kids old enough to walk (or be carried by a willing adult!). Meets approximately once per month during the school year.
Ginat Shabbat – 11:00am: Each Shabbat morning during the school year, we offer this program highlighted by a puppet show. The service includes age-appropriate prayers, songs, stories, and activities for children 0–5 and their parents, using a prayer book created by one of our members. Learn about Shabbat, the stories of the Torah, and the holidays of the year in a gentle, loving, and joyous environment. Enjoy grape juice and challah for Kiddush. Ginat Shabbat begins at 10 AM when there is Musical Marching Minyan.
Jr. Congregation – 11:00am (for children in Grades 2-6): In this weekly prayer service that takes place during the school year, children take the lead in running the program contributing in whatever way is comfortable for them. Some children lead prayers in English or Hebrew; some prepare Torah readings; even the youngest children participate in a variety of activities that do not require reading knowledge. Any child who wants a leadership role in the service can speak with the service coordinator about volunteering. Each service is followed by a special kids’ kiddush.
Kid’s Kiddush, kid-friendly fare and social time at noon for children in Grades 1-7.
Shabbat Kids Space: Kids are welcome to play Shabbat-friendly games in a dedicated space – bring your own and some will be provided. Please respect the space, clean up after yourselves and put all games away after use.
Jr. Congregation Summer Edition – 11:00am: an adult-supervised youngster-led service for children of all ages from the end of school to Labor Day.
High Holidays — Ginat Hag — 11:00 am: On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we offer special programming for kids and their families. Like our weekly Ginat Shabbat program, this popular service includes age-appropriate prayers, songs, puppet stories and activities for children 0–5 and their families. In addition, child care is available (with advance registration) during our adult High Holiday Services. As your child grows, he/she can take part in other High Holiday Programs geared for older children.
GJC Celebrates!: GJC Celebrates! programs, held throughout the year, allow families to celebrate Jewish festivals with age-appropriate activities and traditional foods. Whether it’s waving a lulav on Sukkot, marching with Torah scrolls on Simchat Torah, eating latkes and lighting the outdoor Hanukiyah on Hanukah, or dressing up and shaking groggers on Purim, our GJC Celebrates! programs bring together congregants of all ages on these joyous occasions.
Our rabbi is always available to help your family move through life transitions, whether welcoming new children and celebrating birthdays or coping with illness and loss in your immediate or extended family. Please contact Rabbi Zeff’s rabbinic assistant, Natalie Lyalin, to schedule a time to talk.