EDUCATION & CULTURE
“GIVE the people what they want,” goes the famous quote, variously attributed to Red Skelton or George Jessel, “and they’ll come out for it.”
To apply even more aptly to Jewish Explorers, a new program run by CAJE and funded via a strategic partnership with JEWISHcolorado, the old axiom might be subtly amended: “Especially if you give it to them where they want it.”
Geographic proximity — “accessibility” is the word preferred by Explorers — is a big part of the educational enrichment program’s appeal. It brings Jewish culture and Judaism to Denver Jewish children, and sometimes their parents, where they are.
And where they are, at present, are the Denver neighborhoods of Stapleton, where the pilot program was inaugurated last year, and Highlands, where Jewish Explorers will get underway this fall, hooking up with an existing neighborhood group called West Side Tot Shabbat.
Cindy Coons, the enthusiastic and hard-working director of Jewish Explorers, worked alongside CAJE executive director Phyllis Adler and director of operations Susan Chayet to create the basic concept for the program and then developed its curriculum and lesson plans.
In designing a program that seeks to anticipate the curve of an ever-changing community’s educational needs, the CAJE team began with a little market research. It scoped out neighborhoods to which young Jewish and intermarried families are heading, and asked those families what they want in terms of Jewish outreach and education.
“As we started to talk with a variety of families in the community, we realized that what would be really helpful would be to change our model of delivery,” Coon says.
“Instead of having classes here at CAJE in a centralized location, we would bring the programming out to where the families lived, which would make it more accessible.”