Exploring Judaism Together

April 02, 2019

My Tribe Families Make Connections to Each Other and Their Faith

When Beth and Dave Markowitz’s oldest son finished preschool, they realized that they wanted a new way to explore Jewish culture and traditions as a family. After doing some networking and searching, they landed on My Tribe. My Tribe is a nine month-long experiential, opportunity for families and communities to come together with others who want to explore fun, meaningful ways to tap into the rhythm of the Jewish calendar and experiences.

My Tribe operates on a “Come as you are” approach, welcoming families of all kinds, and all levels of Jewish observance, interest, and understanding. “My Tribe has been a strategic attempt to build something co-collaborative that resonates with the “New Jewish Family” explains My Tribe founder Rabbi Jessy Dressin, Senior Director of Jewish Life at the J, “It assumes that together, we can create something that is meaningful to individual families and also communal in its nature.” The goal is to let each individual and family explore Jewish identity and ideas in their own way and enjoy new experiences and activities in a community setting, thus making the individual experience connected to the broader collective.

My Tribe events range from holiday celebrations and Shabbat dinners, to volunteer opportunities and family events.

Since joining the program with her husband Dave, and her two children Gabe and Ori, Beth and her family have attended many My Tribe gatherings. One event that stuck out to her was the Chanukah gathering because it exposed the boys to something new. “They sat through [Shabbat] services!” Beth recalls, “they did great and I was very proud.”

I was searching for a way to build on the culture of Jewish family, music and traditions

Beth and her family have attended other events such as Mitzvah Day, and the Hamentashen Make and Take this past Purim. “My Tribe has allowed us to be involved in a somewhat structured religious experience that we wouldn’t otherwise be a part of” says Beth, “I was searching for a way to build on the culture of Jewish family, music and traditions.”

The Markowitz family have enjoyed holiday celebrations and have taken advantage of the opportunity to gain exposure to traditional Jewish experiences. “The most rewarding thing from my perspective is that we have created a community with shared values” shares Beth, “I find it rewarding that my children will benefit from this family and these relationships for years to come.”

The beauty and the goal of the My Tribe program is that each family can have a uniquely beneficial experience.

Michael and Kate came to My Tribe as an interfaith couple seeking to explore Jewish values and identity in their own way. “Although Michael and I have an evolving view on the role of religion, generally, in our lives, we both very much value Judaism.” Explains Kate, “we joined My Tribe as a way to connect with other Jewish families and expose our children to Judaism.”

While they have attended many of the My Tribe events, Kate recalls the Tu b’Shevat themed program at Pearlstone Retreat Center as her favorite. She loved the setting and the nature themes. “We loved learning about nature and the many ways that Judaism and nature are connected.”

For Kate and Michael, My Tribe is the way they explore their Jewish culture. It has given them a way to stay connected to the aspects of Judaism that they value while enjoying new experiences and meeting new people in the process.

“As a family, I think the most rewarding part has been meeting new Jewish families and spending additional time with Jewish families we already knew and loved. Personally, I think My Tribe has helped us feel better about ourselves as parents, by giving us an easy and fun way to teach our children about Judaism.”

The My Tribe experience has been equally rewarding for organizer and leader Rabbi Jessy Dressin. “So far it has been amazing to watch families with different make-ups come together over the course of multiple experiences to connect Jewishly and build community.” says Dressin, “We are seeing kids who are proud to be Jewish, as well as, parents who are curious to find ways to connect and grow Jewishly in ways that resonate with the family they are growing.”

Exploring Jewish identity and values can mean something different for each person and each family. My Tribe embraces these differences and seeks to create a community that is beneficial for all interested families.

My Tribe runs from September-June. If you would like to learn more about this program, please contact Sharon Siegel | 443.255.5846 | sseigel@jcc.org

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