Dan Liben, Rabbi at Temple Israel of Natick for 20 years, has found hosting Ikkarim to be rewarding.  He hopes that fellow clergy will consider bringing this program to their synagogues.  Having also taught Ikkarim classes, he has a message for those who strive to parent their kids “through a Jewish lens.”  Watch the video and read what he has to say about the Ikkarim experience!

Dear Fellow Clergy,

I am writing to encourage you to bring Ikkarim: Parenting Through a Jewish Lens, into your synagogue community.  Ikkarim, a ten-week class for parents who are raising Jewish children, was created through a partnership between Hebrew College and CJP’s Commission on Jewish Life and Learning.  As a host site, your synagogue would reap the benefits of that collaboration: an outstanding curriculum taught by a trained Ikkarim faculty member, at an affordable cost to your members, thanks to the generous underwriting of CJP donors.
 
Ikkarim exposes parents to Jewish themes and texts regarding questions of personal meaning, interpersonal relationships, and relationship to community.  It meets students wherever they are on their own Jewish journeys, by bringing ancient and modern texts into dialogue with their own lived experience.   Through that dialogue, it helps parents to bring Jewish values and knowledge to their daily, parental decision making.
 
As the Rabbi of a host site, I have seen Ikkarim work its magic on many of my congregants. It creates friendships and fosters a community of learners, it encourages a view of Judaism that is compelling and accessible, and it empowers parents of every imaginable background to make better-informed Jewish choices for their families.  In my community, many Ikkarim graduates have gone on to complete adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah programs, or to assume leadership roles in the congregation.
 
When Ikkarim was first created, it was conceived as a class specifically for parents with nursery school aged children, as a gateway program for young parents just finding their way into organized Jewish life.   It might serve that niche in your synagogue.  However, I have found that Ikkarim speaks just as profoundly to parents of children at every stage, and that a broader-based community of parents can find Ikkarim just as exciting and rewarding.   
 
However you think Ikkarim might serve the needs in your community, I encourage you to contact Elisha Gechter at Hebrew College, at 617-559-8733 or egechter@hebrewcollege.edu.  Site identification for 2011-2012 is currently underway!
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Rabbi Dan Liben
Temple Israel, Natick