JMN Boston hosted a wonderful Chanukah party in Boston for over 90 people on December 11, 2011. Funded by a $1,000 Innovation Grant from Combined Jewish Philanthropies, a vibrant team of local JMN’ers (some long-term, some brand new) organized the event in partnership with Temple Israel, the largest synagogue in the area.
Before the party, we made a significant outreach effort, sending a beautiful flyer (thank you, volunteer graphic artist Nicky McCatty!) to synagogues, Jewish day schools, secular Jewish organizations, Hillels, parents’ list serves, etc. with a cover letter asking for help identifying folks who might be interested. The event was listed or better yet featured on various web sites, including Jewish Boston and Interfaithfamily.com.
At the party, there were a variety of activities for people of all ages. We had a “Human Bingo” game where we got to know each other by asking questions about our backgrounds and life experiences. Children drew pictures of their families on a mural titled, “My Jewish Family,” and engaged in Chanukah-themed art projects. Adults were invited to join facilitated discussions about the future of JMN Boston, and exploring synagogue membership. We had the JMN poster displayed, and enjoyed some sufganiyot (Dunkin’ Donuts style – this was Boston after all!). We played the multicultural CD, “Songs in the Key of Hanukkah.”
Everyone formed a big circle at the end for singing and closing words. Everyone was asked to fill in a detailed sign-in form so we could gather information about the participants and stay in touch.
The night after the event, a young adult who had attended sent me this message, “THANK YOU SO MUCH for planning the event and welcoming me into the circle…I felt right at home. It was the first time I’ve ever experienced being with so many Jews of Color. It was the first time I ever felt like I belonged in a Jewish group at all.” If just one person had that experience, it was a true success.
We’re looking forward to our next steps as we build our local JMN chapter.
~Becky Shuster, JMN member & leader