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JLEAP Gets Out of Egypt, QUICK!


It’s a Sunday afternoon at the end of March and like many Sunday afternoons at that time of year, Jewish families are busy getting ready for Pesach.

But why is this particular afternoon different from all others? Because on this Sunday afternoon, over 100 Jewish children and their families, along with upward of 25 youth volunteers are gathered at the Weinstein JCC to Get Out of Egypt, QUICK with JLEAP, Jewish Learning, Enrichment and Play.

At JLEAP, we get ready for Pesach by building, creating, designing and exploring our way through the holiday with hands-on learning and play activities geared toward children of all ages (and even their accompanying adults).

Pesach is a holiday that inspires and encourages asking questions. Indeed we ask and answer the same four questions every year! And while the questions remain the same,each year, we gain new inspiration, new insight, and a new taste for the same familiar flavors that grace the Seder table.

So, too, do children learn and expand upon their learning when offered opportunities to work in familiar ways with new ideas. This is the fuel that drives the STREAM education model through which JLEAP works. Science, technology, reading, engineering, art and math concepts are behind each of the carefully curated activities within the room. Children of all ages, stages and interests explore at their own pace, in their own way and connect through this individualized experience with the rich traditions and symbols of the Jewish holidays.

Each of the activities in the room targets components of STREAM learning along with relevant Judaic themes. And just as important, our programming also aims to meet the   significant need for community connection in these unique times.

Many guests began their journey through the event at our art stations, creating custom designed masterpieces to keep, use and share! Children made Moses peg dolls to retell the story and use in our Science Lab. They built their own Lego paint brushes to design unique “matzah printed” Pesach greeting cards and bookmarks. They decorated fabric “travel pouches” to use throughout the event that double as an afikoman bag at Seder time.

Guests also used the materials in these stations to contribute to a chesed (kindness) project and shared beautiful greeting cards and afikoman bags with residents at the Beth Sholom Senior Living Facility, which were delivered the following week.

Aspiring architects of all ages took on a Passover Lego Challenge to design and build unique symbols of the holiday. A cozy space set up in our PJLibrary Lounge invited readers of all ages to join together with holiday books. In the Science Lab, children worked together or individually to build and test a basket for their Moses peg dolls that could successfully float in water using a variety of recycled materials and art supplies.

Once safely across the Nile, those Moses peg dolls got their feet just a little wet (and soapy) in some fun and fascinating Split the Sea Science as they tested a simple experiment using water, pepper and dish soap.

Where would the Pesach story be without strong and fearless leaders? Our dedicated team of staff and incredible youth volunteers through our JLEAD program truly makethese events run like a well oiled machine. Michal Lipp, Program Director at JLEAP, Rabbi Elliot Plotnick of Keneseth Beth Israel, Rachel Peters with PJ Library and Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, Arielle Sherman with Jewish Student Union,

Jessica Crowe and Rivka Skaist all made up our team of adult staff serving to supportguests and our amazing crew of youth JLEADers coming from a variety of community schools and synagogues.

What’s next for JLEAP? We are excited to announce our final event of this year happening on June 12 from 10 a.m. – noon at the Weinstein JCC: a Shabbat Experience Museum! This is no ordinary museum, though– here we will ask you to please touch the exhibits as guests of all ages explore the rituals and traditions of Shabbat, JLEAP style!

Are you an adult interested in volunteer opportunities? Are you an older school aged student, tween or teen looking for a fun, fresh way to explore leadership opportunities?

Contact Michal Lipp at inpraiseofplay@gmail.com for more information. We can’t wait to see everyone together again as we leap into this next adventure!

See more JLEAP photos!