In the Summer of 2002 Liz Nahar and Laura Blaskett, two Newton moms, decided to check out the Kesher program in Cambridge, an innovative non-formal model for their children’s Jewish education. Pulling together a small group of Newton parents to explore the possibility of bringing Kesher to Newton, these individuals quickly discovered that they held an important ambition in common- the desire to give their children a holistic, pluralistic, and community-oriented Jewish education.
The founders of Kesher had all been impressed with the power of Jewish youth movements and camps, especially with the love for Jewish living that campers often seemed to retain as they grew up and “graduated” from the movement. This was the quality that Kesher most wanted in its educational program. The secret of Jewish camping seemed to us that kids learn the most about being Jews by living Judaism, whether this means speaking or singing Hebrew, dancing a folk dance, praying a traditional prayer, or feeling part of a vibrant community.
The Kesher Model
Kesher Community Hebrew School/After School in Cambridge was founded by Marlene Booth in 1992 to address the needs of working parents with the desire for a strong Jewish education and community for their children. Kesher’s model Jewish education program addresses the changing demographics of America’s Jewish families. It pioneers a new method of teaching Hebrew and Judaica in an informal setting. Children learn through play and practice as well as discussion and text study. In 1995, founding director Linda Echt and Kesher in Cambridge received a Covenant Grant from the Covenant Foundation which allowed them to put time and effort into thoughtfully building an innovative program relevant to children’s lives.