Tawonga Family School

Gather monthly on Shabbat with a cohort of young families to build community, expand Jewish knowledge and explore Jewish values – Camp-style!

Who

East Bay and San Francisco families with children ages 4 to 10 years old

When

Seven, 2 ½-hour Saturday sessions in the East Bay and San Francisco from Oct. 2024 – Apr. 2025.

  • Classes typically run either from 9:45am to 12:15pm or 1:45-4:15pm

Where

Current Cohort Options:

  • Alameda
  • Berkeley
  • Keshet (LGBTQ+ families)
  • Oakland 8-to-10-Year-Old Cohort
  • Piedmont
  • San Francisco

Purpose

  • Cohorts of 8-12 families will experience moments of Jewish joy by building Jewish community, deepening their Jewish identities and growing their Jewish knowledge.
  • Centered around learning, bonding and fun, families will explore Jewish values in personally meaningful and resonant ways while building deep relationships with one another.

Program

Overview

  • Innovative, Camp-style monthly Shabbat cohort gatherings in the East Bay and San Francisco consisting of 8-12 families, focused on community building, Jewish learning and fun!
  • Weather permitting, these gatherings will be held outdoors in local parks or local school courtyards

Activities & Learning

  • Music, stories and dynamic, hands-on learning for the whole family. Sessions will open with a song and a question of the day.
  • Celebrating Shabbat monthly in community and breaking bread together.
  • Our curriculum is designed for adults and kids together in addition to content geared just for kids as well as just for adults.
  • Programming for kids includes games, discussions and crafts to encourage learning with your hands.
  • Adults will enjoy space to study and connect Torah and tradition to our daily lives.
  • Together, during family learning, we will play games, write skits or songs, run obstacle courses and more!

Community Building

  • If you have been wanting to join a havurah, Tawonga Family School is an ideal setting to build Jewish community with other families in your region and to kickstart the havurah you’ve been hoping to create. Invite a few families to join you, and sign up together!

Cost

  • $850 per family
    We do not want cost to be a barrier for families to experience Tawonga Family School. Financial Assistance is available.

Staff

Program Directors

Assistant Director of Bay Area Programs, David “Griz” Griswold – After a number of years working at Tawonga as a wilderness leader and “camp dad,” Griz is thrilled to be at the helm of the Tawonga Family School, helping to oversee logistics and support our amazing lead educators in bringing Tawonga’s joyous judaism “down the mountain” to families in the Bay Area. Griz brings years of tutoring, teaching, after-school, and program management experience to the Tawonga Family School, and he loves seeing families come together in community to deepen in their Jewish learning and in their bonds with one another.

Meg Adler, Assistant Director of Jewish Life and Learning

Associate Director of Bay Area Programs, Meg Adler – Meg is a former Tawonga camper, staff member and supervisor. She served on Tawonga’s summer staff from 2012-2017 in various roles including Jewish Program Assistant and for three years as our Counselor and Specialist In-Training Supervisor.

A decorated educator, in 2023 Meg received both the Ruby Award for excellence in Jewish youth education and engagement and the Covenant Foundation’s Pomegranate Prize in the field of Jewish education. She is also the 2021 recipient of a Diller Educator Award in the Jewish communal and experiential category. Meg received an M.A. in Religion, focusing on Tanakh, from Yale Divinity School, as well as a Certificate in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Recently, Meg published her first book about Torah entitled Turn It, Turn It: The Many Faces of Torah, which is based on her online journal, Turn It, Turn It.

Lead Educators

Our Tawonga Family School classes by three gifted and dynamic Jewish educators:

Tawonga Director Emeritus, Rabbi Deborah Newbrun – Rabbi Deborah Newbrun’s career as a Jewish leader spans more than 30 years. She is a gifted, creative, innovative teacher who designed and led Tawonga’s award winning staff training and oversaw all camper programs for 24 years as Camp Director. In 2018, Deborah received the prestigious Covenant Award in Jewish Education, and in 2021, Deborah completed her rabbinic training through the Pluralistic Rabbinical Seminary.

 

Tawonga Jewish Educator, Rabbi Eliana Kayelle – Entering their second year as a lead educator for Tawonga’s B’nai Mitzvah program and Family School, Rabbi Eliana brings a deep love of education and community, and inspires people to think about how Jewish tradition relates to them here and now. Before moving to the Bay, Eliana was on the Long Island Roundtable of Jewish educators for the Jewish Education Project. Eliana also works as the Bay Area Education and Training Manager for Keshet, a national organization working for LGBTQ+ equality in Jewish life.

 

Tawonga Jewish Educator, Lom Friedman – A former full-time director of Tawonga’s Wilderness Program, Lom is a Tawonga veteran through and through. In addition to working at Tawonga, over the past three decades he has directed the Federation’s Jewish Teen Foundations program and Congregation Emanu-El’s Youth & Family programs, and has led international service learning trips for American Jewish World Service. Making learning interactive, engaging, relevant and customized is his long-time passion.

 

Find Out More & Sign Up

We are now enrolling our cohorts for Fall 2024! Click here to register. Registration is limited and first come, first served.

For questions and to learn more, feel free to reach David “Griz ” Griswold, Assistant Director of Bay Area Programs at griz@tawonga.org. If you have children outside of the 4-10 age range and are still curious about the program, Griz can discuss with you if this program is a good fit for your family.

Tawonga Family School Pilot

In 2021, a small cohort of nine families with young children participated in a pilot program called Tawonga Family School. The goal? To build Jewish community, deepen Jewish identities and expand Jewish knowledge through a dynamic, Camp-style, monthly Saturday Shabbat cohort gathering. The pilot was such a success that we’re now continuing to expand the program for 2023!

Testimonials

Tawonga Family School has been an incredible experience for our whole family. We have all enjoyed making new Jewish connections and strengthening our relationship with our Jewish faith.The Brody Family

This program has been an amazing opportunity for our family to learn together, connect and get to know other Jewish families. It feels so good to be doing this as a family, and we all feel more deeply connected to Judaism and to the Jewish calendar.Tawonga Family School Parent

Questions?

We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to reach Griz at griz@tawonga.org.

Program Funders

Camp Tawonga is grateful to the Rodan Family Foundation for their generous support.

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