“Radically inclusive in a way that’s unusual in Jewish life and learning.” That’s how Beverly Socher-Lerner describes Makom Community, the Jewish enrichment center she founded in Center City Philadelphia three years ago, which now receives Jewish Federation funding.
Makom Community provides daily, high-quality afterschool care and Jewish education for children in pre-K through 5th grade. The program is child-led: the first eight weeks of the school year are spent together creating the learning space and class expectations, and studying Jewish texts to develop the curriculum. On days schools are closed, Makom offers a camp that uses the whole city as a classroom. Visits to places like museums and theaters are learning opportunities that are then tied into the Torah and Jewish traditions.
Each week concludes with a family Shabbat program. Parents learn alongside their children and together talk about how they interpret Jewish traditions and how they want to incorporate Judaism into their family. For most of Makom’s families, this is their only point of Jewish engagement.
As a result of the Jewish Federation’s funding for Makom Community, “now we are able to plan longer term,” said Beverly. “Also, we were able to increase our staff to maintain an even higher-quality program.”
Said the parent of a second-grade student: “Makom Community gives my daughter a unique perspective from which to see the world. She translates her Jewish learning and applies it to her everyday life. And she loves it!”