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Spotlight on Innovation and Change

How a Renewed Focus on Kehillah at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Glen Cove Became the Building Block for Growth & Engagement


By Ellen Rank

CTI Limud is Congregation Tifereth Israel’s congregation-wide learning model that is based on the premise that Jewish values, embedded in and learned through our stories (both modern and ancient), can be our guide in helping us to make our world a better place. Over the past five years, spearheaded by the vision and dedication of lay leaders Fredda Klopfer and Susan Friedlieb and their clergy Rabbi Irwin Huberman and Cantor Gustavo Gitlin, CTI has experimented with different types of experiential learning and over time have found the balance between experiential learning and content to create powerful learning experiences. The impact of their efforts can be seen in the growth of their school from 6 learners to about 75.

To get to where they are now, CTI listened to families and placed a new priority on creating learning experiences that spoke to their population. Today, all CTI learners and their families participate in hands-on experiential learning that takes place at CTI as well as out in the community. There are currently about 75 learners and 40 families participating and exploring topics such as community building, prayer, storytelling, Israel, camp connections, leadership and Torah study.

An important dimension to CTI’s high-impact model is the creation and building of community – Kehillah. On Sunday mornings, parents and children join together from 9:30-10:00 for Kehillah. This is made up of spirited songs and an interactive dramatically told story which ties in with CTI’s theme for this year. CTI also uses Kehillah as an opportunity to teach relevant, modern Hebrew words, per parental request. CTI’s Limud Teens are given opportunities to be leaders of Kehillah.

Empowering Teens has become a very important part of Limud which demonstrates  the tremendous belief CTI has in empowering students to take part in creating their own learning. The Limud High students create their own curriculum based on what they want to learn. They designed and created their own space – their own teen lounge– which they truly see (and use) as their special place at CTI. These teens, who are in the classrooms and know what is happening and how children are learning, participate  in the Education Leadership Team, sharing their insights with lay leaders, clergy and the education director.

None of this would be possible without the involvement of dedicated stakeholders and the creative use of social connectors to help get the word out and share their evolving story of strength and renewed connections with the entire community. Even mid-year, Limud continued to gain new students while CTI’s dedicated team of stakeholders continued to be reflective, set noticing targets for themselves, and keep their priority goals in sight.

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