CREATE AND CONNECT: PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONS
Cohort #1: Eishet Chayil Initiative
Through an innovative approach of combining a Torah outlook on women’s spiritual, professional and leadership skills, the Eishet Chayil Initiative reinforces feelings of fulfillment, confidence, and strength. It provides a framework for communities to develop a series of events for women which blend Torah perspectives with matters of time management, financial health, mental health, physical health and wellness, leadership and spirituality. This unique approach enables women to achieve a balance in their lives and become more confident and comfortable in future leadership roles within the community.
Create and Connect mentors guide synagogues to focus on key features in the success of this program such as: diversity in topic and presentation, active learning, “take away” tools and small discussion groups. Designed to appeal to women of different ages and stages of life, the program attracts participants beyond the immediate synagogue community.
Event topics include:
- Time Management and Organizational Skills
- Financial Wellness for All Stages of Life
- Mental Health and Mindfulness
- Health and Wellness
- Female Leadership Outside and Inside the Home
- Women’s Role in the Seder
The Young Israel of Hollywood– Ft. Lauderdale was successful in presenting a variety of programs that appealed to a broad range of women and brought women of different demographic backgrounds together. All participants appreciated the opportunity to learn, socialize and grow.
The Eishet Chayil Program was developed and run by the Young Israel of Hollywood- Ft. Lauderdale.
Cohort #2: Your Voice – Our Community
Women play many roles within their communities. To some extent they have not had sufficient opportunities to assume leadership positions. They may find themselves in leadership positions, at times without much notice or experience. Through a multi-faceted schedule of events, Your Voice – Our Community enables participants to focus on developing leadership skills and encourages women to take on leadership roles in the community. The weekend program inspires comradery, volunteerism and leadership.
Create and Connect mentors guide synagogues to develop a weekend program encompassing a community-wide Shabbat focused on themes of leadership and a Sunday leadership training and team building retreat for women.
Sunday Retreat includes:
- Multiple team building social activities in which teams are intentionally representative of cross-sections of the community, helping to build new bonds and connections. (Afternoon team building activities with new and diverse participant groupings)
- Lunch and leadership training sessions given by an accomplished professional
- Additional presentation on providing services for the special needs community
- Women’s Program Challenge: participants tasked to create a new initiative for synagogue
- Closing event: Selection of one proposal for its creativity and promise with the winning team receiving a cash prize to be used for the initiation of the selected program
The Program Challenge is a unique program component in that it enables the continuity of the program encouraging participants to use their “newly acquired” leadership skills and assuring women’s presence in synagogue programming.
Participants submit a post event evaluation and are presented with a list of community volunteer opportunities. Those completing these final steps are entered into a raffle for a prize. A follow up survey at a time in the future allows the organizers to assess the ongoing impact of the program.
Attracting women of all ages, the program seeks to create new bonds between the generations over the course of the weekend.
The Your Voice – Our Community Program was created and run by Young Israel of Southfield Michigan.
Cohort #3: Saturday Night In(Side Torah) Women’s Learning Initiative
In many communities, women’s events typically consist of classes on a specific aspect of Torah learning or are more social in nature. The Saturday Night In(Side Torah) Women’s Learning Initiative seeks to create a synergy – Torah learning coupled with social activities and engagement.
A key and unique component to the success of the initiative is the pre-program survey prepared for a broad spectrum of the community that helps to identify the most attractive inspirational Torah topics and the potential social activities. It is a program designed with participant input from the start, ensuring its attractiveness and future desirability. This feature enables women to create a curriculum that is meaningful and fulfills their need for growth. Similarly, post-event questionnaires allow organizers to ascertain the success of the program and future marketing alternatives.
The Young Israel of Cleveland initial grant program hosted the following Saturday night events:
- “Is Peace of Mind Attainable in a Turbulent World?” + Flower Arranging
- “Just Breathe: A Night of Well Being for Mind, Body, and Soul” + Yoga
- Kumsitz evening of music and learning
This program was highly successful in Cleveland, reaching its goals of attracting large attendance by women from within and from outside the synagogue community. Participants appreciated the opportunity to learn and spend an enjoyable evening with women from a broad spectrum of the community.
The Saturday Night In(Side Torah) Women’s Learning Initiative was developed and run by the Young Israel of Cleveland.
Cohort #4: THRIVE – The Women’s Professional Mentorship Program
THRIVE is a mentoring program aimed to create a connection between women in the community of different ages and stages in life with others who have similar goals and professional interests and expertise. The program offers a framework within which women can share tools and knowledge with each other, developing practical workplace or life skills. It provides unique professional development opportunities that are sensitive to the needs of Orthodox women in the workplace and professional skills which can be applied to all areas of their lives.
The six-month mentoring program includes:
- Detailed interest forms and self-assessment tools for mentors and mentees
- Mentor and mentee matching process
- Framework for four in-person, group sessions aimed at establishing an effective mentoring relationship and offering direct opportunities for professional skill development
- Formal, built-in opportunities for participants to evaluate and give feedback about the program and to suggest additional topics to be addressed
- Framework for formal wrap-up session discussing the process of ending the mentorship and/or continuing the relationship
- End of program survey and reports
Participants in the initial THRIVE grant program found it to be very empowering and helped with personal growth. The program helped create positive bonds between women in the community.
The THRIVE Women’s Professional Mentorship Program was created and run by Congregation Darchei Noam, Fair Lawn, NJ.