Newsletter – April 2015

Beit Midrash study group

Earlier this month we finished the study group’s course based on the well known song from Passover – “Who knows one?”. The participants engaged in a refreshing look at central themes of Judaism, such as a new perspective on the Fathers and the Mothers. It was a small but unique group, which willingly accommodated two members who are not native Hebrew speakers. At the final meeting, everyone expressed satisfaction and interest in more of such study in the future.

Bar Mitzvah program for boys

This month the first program for boys of Bar Mitzvah age also came to a close. Throughout eight meetings the boys became familiar with various topics of Jewish tradition, while being encouraged to question and inquire. We are sure this is the first of many programs to come.

Community needs survey

In January 2015, the Ohel Menashe community initiated an online community needs survey. The anonymous survey was designed, conducted, and analyzed by a professional firm.

Most of the participants were women (74%), and all participants were married having an average of 3 children per household. All participants had an academic education, and the average age was 44 (range: 32-80). Of the participants, 62% described themselves as secular, and average length of living in the city was 13 years.

Regarding community activities in which participants currently take part; 45% reported participating in Yom Kippur services, and 25% participate in holiday activities or services. Another 30% reported taking part in volunteering, donations or Tzedakah activities. Regarding activities in which there is a prospective high interest in taking part: 47% chose volunteering, donations or Tzedakah activities, and 42% chose Yom Kippur services. At the other end of this scale; activities in which there is low interest were: daily prayer services, counseling by a rabbi and Shabbat morning services. Interestingly, men displayed a higher interest in Kabbalat Shabbat services.

Regarding what the character the participants would like the city to have from pluralistic perspective: 90% would like the city to have an open atmosphere and 86% would like to choose for themselves how to celebrate holidays.

In the open ended sections, participants were asked to state what activities they would like to participate in, and were not mentioned in the survey. Most requests were for Jewish cultural events (some specifying lectures, other request remain unclear). Some participants mentioned local occurrences of shaming people who had behaved in a manner deemed inappropriate at a (orthodox) synagogue, or a girl who had a Bat Mitzvah and had read from the Torah.