The aim of this activity is to survey the specific community in which the students live, learn about it and assess it critically.

  • Divide the students into a number of small groups or task forces. Each task force receives one aspect of the local Jewish community. We suggest that they survey all the denominations in the community.
  • Each group will cover one of the following aspects of community life:
    • Synagogues and their institutions (apart from educational activities for the young, which are in the next category).
    • Formal educational institutions for the young.
    • Informal educational institutions for the young.
    • Welfare institutions. [It is worth mentioning here that these will be surveyed in detail in the next stage of the project. If you intend to cover both aspects, as we recommend, think about what you want to do in this part of the program in order to avoid overlap.]
    • Community leadership, representative institutions or similar institutions.
    • Zionist institutions.
    • Institutions for the defence of the community and against anti-semitism.
    • Cultural institutions.
    • Social institutions (such as Jewish community centers, country clubs, or similar institutions).
    • Economic institutions or institutions for young professionals or similar bodies.
    • Institutions connected with shechita and kashrut (including kosher restaurants and similar institutions).
    • Institutions connected with death and burial.

It is worth making a survey of the community first so that the tasks can be equalized as far as possible by adding two categories together or splitting one into two parts. Furthermore, if there are significant aspects of your community life that are missing from the above list, you may wish to include them in this exercise.

  • The students must first survey their particular sphere by looking at community publications and phoning relevant individuals (or examining the web sites of community institutions, if such exist). Once they have mapped out their territory, they should interview key individuals and visit key institutions in that connection. Their task is to bring back a written and visual report of their particular sphere and make a critical examination (positive or negative) that will form the basis of an oral presentation to the class, preferably with visual aids.
  • After they have made their individual presentations, divide them into smaller groups, with each one containing a member from each task-force. These groups should discuss their impressions of the community from all its different aspects. Thery should formulate some kind of community report, giving a grade to the community, explaining the reasons for this grade, and recommending particular institutions for special merit. In addition, each group should suggest one institution that they would like to see added to the community, and explain why they think that this would be a valuable addition to community life.

N.B. Perhaps some kind of a special evening activity could be arranged with parents, members and representatives of the community leadership and the particular recommended institutions to celebrate the closing of this part of the project.






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10 Dec 2006 / 19 Kislev 5767 0