Designed as a five year Jewish educational and leadership program, Kehiloft focuses on four major areas: 1) Expanding and deepening the student’s exploration of Judaism. 2) Developing leaders: through becoming Kehiloft student board members, leading Shabbat services, and initiating projects. 3) Community service. 4) Creating a friendly, welcoming and supportive mixed age group of Jewish students.
When a student enrolls in Kehiloft, they build an impressive record of service and study – one that colleges recognize as demonstrating continuity of interest and commitment. Kehiloft students in grades 8 through 12 become the youth leaders of our congregation.
Kehiloft meets on either Wednesday evening (6:00 – 8:00), Friday for Shabbat services, or Sunday morning during Religious School. Every session is new and different. Kehiloft is flexible and designed with the busy student in mind. Students can attend every session or come whenever they can. The five year program length enables all students to benefit at whatever level of participation works for their schedule.
Students work with the Kehiloft Principal to decide on an annual tikkun olam project and develop it during the year. Past projects include creating a meeting space by converting a little used balcony into a student lounge, and building compost bins and establishing a composting program. Kehiloft students delivered power-point presentations of both projects to the congregation, raised the needed funds, purchased the supplies, and built both projects. The Kehiloft students created an anti-bullying video and entered it into a national competition. Last year they built a gaga court and this year they organized the first annual Lag B’Omer Field Day for the Religious School students. They lead holiday art projects in Religious School, write and perform the Purim Spiel, and run the Purim Carnival crafts and games. The students create, lead, and decide together on their annual projects and areas of study.
Kehiloft students deepen their bonds to Judaism through discussions with the rabbi and leading Shabbat services. Rabbi Susan leads monthly discussions on a topic of the student’s choice and the students lead three to four Shabbat services a year culminating in a graduation service for Kehiloft seniors.
Kehiloft’s Student Board consists of President, Vice President, and Secretary. The Student Board meets for 30 minutes each Wednesday prior to the start of the regular session. The Kehiloft president attends CKS Board meetings and reports back to the Kehiloft students. All students develop leadership skills and take charge of projects they are interested in. Kehiloft students take turns writing the CKS monthly newsletter, manage a private Kehiloft Facebook page, run the compost program, raise and decorate the sukkah, hold fundraisers for their program and other groups they choose to support, design Kehiloft logos for apparel, host Kehiloft information sessions with the 6th and 7th grade Religious School students, and much more! Kehiloft students are an integral part of our Religious School, helping in the classroom and office, tutoring students in Hebrew, running the cooking program, and managing the compost. Students develop leadership skills over their five years in Kehiloft. On college applications, Kehiloft students proudly list all the activities that they have participated in and demonstrate the growth of their leadership skills.
Kehiloft students bond together in the casual relaxed atmosphere of Kehiloft sessions. Friendships that start in Religious School grade grow closer and lasting friendships form between the students over the five years they attend Kehiloft. Although students are encouraged to attend all sessions, there is no pressure to do so. Students come and go as their schedule allows. Students who are able to attend regularly can rise into leadership positions.
Every session begins with an informal meal (pizza, felafel or salad) with time to unwind and catch up with each other. The year ends with a graduation Shabbat service, a dinner in Princeton, and a trip to New York City.