Last November, as I was welcoming 1st and 2nd grade students into our sanctuary at Congregation Beth Ahabah, three young girls rushed up to me and covered me in hugs.
“Look, it’s the camp lady,” one said. “I’m coming back to Camp Sababa next summer!”
Another exclaimed, “Will you be there again, Miss Ramona?”
These girls were not 'my' students, but were visiting CBA as part of the Synagogue Tour sponsored by the Richmond Council for Jewish Education. And yet, they were 'my' students because as an educator serving on the Richmond Council for Jewish Education board, the sense of who 'my' students are transcends institution and extends outward toward community.
The Jewish Community Federation of Richmond sponsors the Richmond Council for Jewish Education. The committee is made up of the education directors, program directors, rabbis, cantors and professionals of the synagogues, youth programs, Jewish museums and educational organizations around town.
These programs, implemented by the committee, provide a myriad of impactful Jewish learning experiences for our families, children and Jewish teachers in Richmond, which support the values of living a Jewish life. The spirit of K’lal Yisroel is at work when the education directors from the city gather at Richmond Council for Jewish Education monthly meetings.
We hope that by bringing great, inclusive Jewish programs to the community we strengthen ourselves as a whole. We strive to bring a holistic approach to Jewish education.
If your child has ever played a carnival game at the Purim Carnival, ridden a camel at the Yom Ha’azmaut Celebration, 'visited Israel' at Camp Sababa, gone on the Synagogue Tour or attended a special program at the Virginia Holocaust Museum, s/he has benefited from RCJE programming.
We also support our community teachers in meaningful ways, providing scholarships for conferences and classes so that they can also expand their own Jewish education, which elevates the level of teaching in the community.
Each August, RCJE sponsors a community-wide Professional Development Program for Richmond Jewish teachers. In addition to being inspired by guest speakers and attending workshops we recognize the contributions of our teachers to excellence in Jewish education.
I have had the privilege of serving as the Chair of the RCJE since 2012 and a committee member since 2008. It has been an honor to work on this committee with dedicated colleagues from around the city, many who have become friends.
As Jews, we are directed to "teach diligently unto your children." What I love about being part of the RCJE is that we bring educational experiences to ALL of our children in ways that are fun - in ways that engender a love of Judaism and that includes our whole Mishpacha.
When the members of the Richmond Council for Jewish Education come together we become a community of educators.
Ramona Brand is the Director of Education at Congregation Beth Ahabah and current Chair of the Richmond Council for Jewish Education.