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GLADYS AND CHAIM WEINSTEIN OUTREACH PROGRAM
The cornerstone of a successful outreach program consists of the individuals and families that offer their time and their hospitality to help others experience the beauty of Judaism. We are fortunate in our community to have numerous individuals and families that are always prepared, at a moment’s notice, to open their hearts and their homes to help us meet our outreach responsibility.

Although essential, hospitality is not sufficient. When an individual expresses interest in learning more about Judaism, we must be prepared to offer answers, assistance and support. Our Gladys and Chaim Weinstein Outreach Program provides these services. Our program includes:

Beginners’ Prayer and Torah Class
Not Just for Beginners’ Minyan
Hebrew Reading Crash Course
Classes on Basic Judaism
Yom Tov refresher courses
Baalei Teshuva Support Group

Beginners’s Prayer and Torah Class

Why do we stand for kiddush on Friday night and sit for kiddush on Saturday? Why do some people stand for part of kiddush and sit for another part? Why do we make kiddush?

Why do we take three steps back followed by three steps forward when we begin our Shemoneh Esrei prayer? Why do we stand for Shemoneh Esrei? Why does the Shemoneh Esrei have nineteen blessings when “shemoneh esrei” means eighteen? Why does someone repeat the entire Shemoneh Esrei out loud? Why don’t we repeat it during the Maariv service?

What is S’hma? Why do we say it? Why does it have to be said within certain time frames? What if I miss it? Why are women not required to say S’hma? Why are women not required to pray?
Why are there three services on each day of the week? Why is there a fourth service on Shabbat? Why do we read from the Torah only on certain days? What days are they?

These are the types of questions that are addressed in the Beginners’ Prayer Class. There are hundreds of questions; each of great importance and each with a proper answer. This class addresses and discusses the different issues in Jewish prayer.

The Beginners’ Prayer Class is taught by Rabbi Danny Frankel on Sunday mornings at 10:00 AM. It is open to both men and women.

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Not Just for Beginners’ Minyan
An orthodox minyan can be a frightening place. There are many things happening at a very fast pace. Yet, everyone in the room appears to be completely comfortable with the pace and the activities. Everyone appears to know exactly what is going on.

Most Jews who have grown up in an orthodox environment fail to see the complexity of an orthodox minyan. From time to time there may be some question as to whether a certain activity ought to take place, but there always seems to be someone with the answer or qualified to do a little research and provide an answer. It all seems to go fairly smoothly.

If, however, as an adult, you were to visit an orthodox minyan for the very first time, things would be very different. The activities might make little sense. The speed would be overwhelming. The language would be a barrier. In fact, the very things that make many feel comfortable are exactly the same things that frighten newcomers away.

If you are a male visitor, you may be “honored” by being asked to participate in the service. You will most likely turn the “honor” down, sometimes not even knowing what it is that you have been asked to do. Is it a wonder that many people never come back?

The Young Israel of Woodmere Not Just for Beginners’ Minyan addresses this problem. New faces are immediately identified and welcomed. We ascertain their level of understanding and, if necessary, make sure that there is someone nearby that can offer assistance by answering a question (with minimal talking) or pointing at the correct place in the siddur. If an honor is offered, the question is always asked, “Have you ever done this before?” Assistance is provided by explaining step-by-step what must be done and why.

All prayers are said out loud. This helps slow down the pace and reduce the number of interruptions. Page numbers are announced as we proceed through the service. When changes occur in the service, because of special occasions, they are announced and fully explained. An overview of the week’s Torah portion is always offered, as well as a D’var Torah on the Parshah of the week.

When possible, the minyan concludes with a small kiddush. This gives us the opportunity to greet each other, socialize and ask questions. The Young Israel of Woodmere Not Just for Beginners’ Minyan is truly a warm place in which we can share words of prayer, words of Torah and words of friendship.

The Young Israel of Woodmere Not Just for Beginners’ Minyan meets once every 6-8 weeks. If you or anyone you know can benefit from this experience, please join us for our next minyan. To find out more, if you need help with accommodations for Shabbat, or would like to participate in Shabbat meals with others, please contact the synagogue office.

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Hebrew Reading Crash Course
Do you wish you could read Hebrew? Perhaps pray in Hebrew? If so, join us for the very successful Crash Hebrew Course. This five week intensive course covers the basics of the Hebrew language and provides the fundamentals necessary to read Hebrew and pray in Hebrew. Intermediate and advanced courses are also available.

The course is given several times throughout the year. It is course is sponsored in conjunction with the National Jewish Outreach Program. Check the schedule or contact the synagogue office for the next cycle.

Classes on Basic Judaism
Although Judaism affects every aspect of our lives, we do not need to be totally familiar with all its nuances in order to live an observant lifestyle. At the same time, there are certain basics without which we would be lost.

Classes on Basic Judaism are taught throughout the year by Rabbi Billet, Rabbi Dr. Glatt, and Rabbi Frankel, as well as other members of our community. They cover philosophical issues, such as the principles of Judaism, practical issues, such as the laws of kashrut, and personal issues, such as the laws of family purity. Classes are typically open to both men and women and are designed for participants of all levels. This course is sponsored in conjunction with the National Jewish Outreach Program. Please see the class schedule.

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Yom Tov Refresher Course
Each Yom Tov (holiday) is rich in meaning and tradition. Each has its own requirements regarding proper observance. Each comes but once a year. How do we know the significance of each?

The Yom Tov Refresher Course is designed to address each holiday individually. All aspects of the holiday are reviewed in detail, leaving the participant with a clear understanding of the event. Courses are conducted just prior to a Yom Tov, so that the information is fresh and relevant. The Yom Tov Refresher Course is held in place of the Beginners’ Prayer Class.

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Baalei Teshuva Support Group
The transition to an orthodox observant lifestyle is not an easy one. Besides the inherent changes in lifestyle, such as eating only kosher food, observing Shabbat and Yom Tov, yeshiva education for the children, just to name a few big ones, there are the difficulties encountered with one’s family and friends. To put it simply, it can be quite a challenge.
Without minimizing the issues, we recognize that many of the problems that are encountered are experienced by a large percentage of those making the transition. Some easily find solutions while others have a tremendous struggle, while still others make sacrifices unimagined. Typical of people making this transition, thank G-d, is that they are willing to share their experience and insight for the sake of helping others.

The Baalei Teshuva Support Group provides a forum in which individuals may share their experiences with others. Together, we look for approaches that work. We make suggestions, work through problems, and support each other. When necessary, and at times it is necessary, we simply provide a shoulder.

It is important to remember that the first step to meeting a challenge is to recognize it as one. Therefore, we begin by recognizing the transition to an orthodox observant lifestyle as a challenge. Next, we recognize that it is a struggle that we need not face alone. Finally, we recognize that we can learn from others by sharing, talking and listening. This group is not a therapy group. It is a community, in fact a family, working through a common theme and looking for unique solutions.

The Baalei Teshuva Support Group meets periodically on Saturday nights. Please contact the synagogue office for additional information.

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