HELP US GROW!
MOMENTUM: KITS family education
Keeping It Sacred (KITS), a vibrant global community known for accessible, relevant, and empowering adult educational programming, is expanding with a new KITS Family Education program.
Keeping It Sacred is a vibrant center for a global community that spans 6 continents and 11 time- zones. In 2022, over 2,000 reservations were made for Keeping It Sacred programs, with readership of our newsletter reaching over 17,000 opens. Our growth and engagement continues with open rates increasing week over week to 62%. This means that with each passing week, people are more and more likely to engage with our content and programming. Our numbers in 2023 continue this through line. KITS has established itself as a place where adults go to for their own flexible open accessible communal Jewish education. Now we are looking to create programming for families.
Over the past 35 years, synagogue religious school enrollment has plummeted 50%. (1) Families in a recent Pew Research Center Study (2) affirm that many of the challenges of Traditional Synagogue models present are challenges of welcome, relevance, and belonging. The Study also noted barriers of exclusivity, location, and cost. That means that even the communities that are the most welcoming and provide the greatest content still struggle with enrollments. Families are having trouble juggling traditional religious school programs into their busy schedules and tight budgets.
David Bryfman, CEO of the Jewish Education Project who led the study on enrollment believes that the problems have arisen because, as he stressed in a recent webinar, “…traditional synagogue Jewish educational models were set up in a time that was really different… we believe change is possible and necessary and necessary now. The data (from the study) is a wake up call for all of us who care about Jewish education.”(3) What a powerful alarm he is raising, and important challenge to all of us.
But, there is a sign of hope embedded in that survey: 100% of the JEP study responders believe in the importance of these schools to help students develop a sense of belonging to the Jewish people. Families are yearning for Jewish education, but they need a new model. They need someone to listen to their needs and solve the mismatch between what they want and what currently exists.
Already, 30 families (25 of them are interfaith families) with 52 kids (9 of whom are Jews of Color) from the Los Angeles area have reached out to Keeping It Sacred because KITS has developed a reputation for this kind of accessible, relevant, and empowering programming. Of these 30 families, 25 are interfaith families with 9 families including at least one member of the Jews of Color community.
Beyond the LA KITS Community, our program has the potential for greater reach because of the success because of the expertise we have already developed mixing of in-person and virtual offerings. We have several families across the US and abroad who have expressed similar interest. And, several rabbis and educators have also expressed great interest and excitement for our model. They are following our work because they know it will serve as a source of inspiration for their educational programs. We are highly collaborative and want to help them build out educational opportunities that meet the needs 21st c. families.
At Keeping It Sacred, we have assembled a dynamite team of experienced Jewish educators who are solidly qualified to think outside of the box. Rabbi Heather Miller, serves as KITS Founder, Chavva Olander serves as Director of Family Learning and Engagement, and Jason Kim-Seda serves as Curricular Consultant– each has over two decades of educational leadership experience in either Religious Schools, Jewish Day Schools, or both. The team is supported by our Digital Media Manager, Molly Flanagan.
We have already assembled our KITS Family Focus Group, launched two projects, and designed the framework for our program that is customizable and communal, that motivates learning and encourages engagement, and that delivers real content around holidays and topics of interest. We will continue to build up our plan by measuring our success through surveys and by tracking our enrollment, engagement, celebrations, referrals and financial contributions.
David Bryfman, CEO of the Jewish Education Project stresses that, “We need to invest in our innovators, scale our successes and build more...part time Jewish education models.” Won’t you help us?