In recent years the Jewish community has witnessed a growth in the development of Jewish afterschool programs that provide childcare as well as Jewish educational programming to elementary age children. This possible trend may represent a diversification of options for families seeking to provide Jewish education and Jewish experiences for their children. Through a close examination of three afterschool programs and neighboring congregations, this article will consider whether these new start-up educational institutions threaten or complement the existing Jewish educational structures such as the congregational supplementary school and whether or not there are opportunities for congregational schools and afterschool programs to partner in serving families and what might those partnerships look like.
In order to understand aspects of the rise of independent afterschool programs, I studied the relationships between a small sample afterschool programs and some of their neighboring synagogues. I wanted to know:
- Are there congregational school/afterschool program partnerships that currently exist? What are the goals of those partnerships?
- What successes have emerged from those partnerships? What are the challenges? Where are there still opportunities?
- What are the commonalities in the relationships between the afterschool programs and their neighboring congregational schools?
- How can/should communities be building these partnerships? What would be the mutual benefits of these partnerships?