Dear Sherith Israel Community,

I am delighted to share the exciting news that we have hired a rabbi educator to join our clergy team. After a thorough search, we have found an excellent person to help us transform our educational vision into reality! Abby Phelps will begin her work with us on July 1. Rabbi Phelps is passionate about education and brings a wealth of creativity, energy, and wisdom to us. Together, we are ready to grow a more vibrant and joyful community of learners.

Over the next few years, there will be many exciting changes to our education programs. AND—we’re ready to implement a few changes right away! In addition to welcoming a new educator, we are changing the name of our youth education program to Studio@SherithIsrael . (After all, who wants to go to school on Sundays??) A “studio” is an open space, a creative environment where people are artistic and find their own expression. Our Studio will be a place of exploration and exposure to many ideas.

Together with teachers and families, we will be developing a new curriculum that will be firmly anchored in Jewish text and tradition, one that will encourage students to see the relevance of Judaism in their own lives. We will teach our kids how to look at the world through a Jewish lens. The Studio curriculum will be the catalyst for learning… and having fun together! We will study Hebrew through movement, celebrate Shabbat in the woods, and discuss big Jewish ideas in our very own gorgeous sanctuary. Shared experience and excitement create community. Studio will be a laboratory for learning, and for the growth of life-long friendships.

A deep sense of belonging and connection to the Jewish community begins at an early age…and engages the whole family. Since we know that fun Jewish learning is contagious, we want the whole family to get involved. We will be adding new opportunities for teen and family education. After all, kids and parents inspire each other! We will expand our wonderful 6th grade retreats to all grade levels. We will help our students to build their own smaller communities within the community. In the last year, we have seen great success with this in the high school age group. We now have our first Confirmation class in years. We are excited to build on this success and expand our age cohort model to include younger kids.

For our youth, CSI is a home away from home. It is the place where they come to search for meaning in a complicated world. A joyful, accessible and relevant Judaism will guide them into adulthood.  Studio@SherithIsrael will set them on this path.

Please mark your calendar for two important events … More details will follow, but for now, please save the dates!

  • On Saturday, May 19, there will be an opportunity for Sherith Israel families, and others who are interested in Studio, to learn more about the program and to meet Rabbi Phelps. 

  • On Friday, June 1, we will celebrate our beloved educator, Nancy Sheftel-Gomes, on the occasion of her retirement.

I am excited about our future! We welcome you to share your ideas and dreams with us as we build Sherith Israel.


Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman Graf