Exciting development for building Jewish communal life through learning in the San Francisco Bay Area
By Jaimie Baxter and Debbie Rosenfeld-Caparaz
Ten years ago, Sara Bamberger, Rabbi David Kasher, Frayda Gonshor Cohen and Jacob Heitler piloted a new vision for Jewish learning in the San Francisco Bay Area: a network of self-organized, small groups learning together with the best Jewish educators around. Their vision was realized in the innovative and successful Kevah Groups program.
Now, after having supported hundreds of Kevah Groups and thousands of adult learners over the past decade, Kevah’s staff and Board of Directors have determined that moving forward, the Kevah Groups program will best thrive in the context of a larger organization.
With that realization, we are excited to announce that the Kevah Groups program is being acquired by Lehrhaus Judaica, the premier provider of adult Jewish learning in the Bay Area for more than 44 years. Kevah is excited to transition the Kevah Groups program to Lehrhaus to have an even greater impact in the Jewish community.
Kevah Founding Director Sara Bamberger added, “Kevah’s mission is to help individuals and organizations create Jewish learning communities, which is very much in alignment with Rabbi Morrison’s vision for Lehrhaus. Moving to Lehrhaus is a fantastic way for the Kevah Groups program to expand to a larger audience. The Kevah staff and board have all been very impressed with Rabbi Morrison’s leadership and vision, and the synergies of the two organizations will be a great benefit to our educators and participants.”
“We are inspired by Kevah’s work during the past 10 years, and we will ensure that the depth of learning and the construction of meaningful relationships that characterizes the Kevah Groups experience continues and flourishes,” said Lehrhaus Executive Director Rabbi Jeremy Morrison.
According to the first-ever social scientific study of the Bay Area Jewish community released in February of this year, a large segment of the population is unaffiliated with a synagogue, but has a deep desire for belonging and a strong sense of ethnic identity. The study also showed that the population is highly educated but has a low level of Jewish knowledge.
To address those needs, Lehrhaus strives to offer depth, meaning and impact at the heart of its life-centered Jewish education programs that nurture the mind and spirit. Lehrhaus’ goal is to provide meaningful opportunities to engage with Jewish communal life through education and ritual throughout the Bay Area.
With the addition of the Kevah Groups, Lehrhaus is further poised to build vibrant Jewish communities outside the walls of a synagogue. Lehrhaus’ regular classes, Circles programs, conferences, online learning offerings and traveling classroom provide many options for meeting the needs and interests of a diverse community of adult learners in the Bay Area and beyond.
Lehrhaus eagerly welcomes Kevah Group hosts, participants and educators to the community, and invites and encourages all groups to continue meeting without interruption or changes. Kevah Program Director Jaimie Baxter will be joining the Lehrhaus staff with responsibilities that include continued oversight of the Kevah Groups program, ensuring a seamless transition and continuity of Kevah’s vision and customized approach to small group engagement and learning.
Kevah and Lehrhaus already work with many of the same educators, and previously partnered during the launch of Lehrhaus’ Circles program in 2011. Today, Lehrhaus offers Talmud, Philosophy, and Zohar Circles throughout the Bay Area, providing more than 200 participants annually opportunities to build community through engaging in text study. The addition of the Kevah Groups program will add more than 300 learners to Lehrhaus’ community.
The Kevah Groups program will move to Lehrhaus effective July 1, 2018.
If you are interested in finding out more about Kevah Groups at Lehrhaus or would like to start a group, contact Jaimie Baxter at [email protected].