Kahal B’raira’s Programs

Below you can learn about our services and our holiday celebrations and explore what we offer for adults, children, teens and families
Holidays
Experience Jewish Humanistic holiday celebrations.

Our thoughtful and inspirational holiday celebrations include readingsmusic, reflections, and holiday activities.

Visit our Calendar page for dates of holiday programs:

Events Calendar

Our Holiday Celebrations Include:

Rosh Hashanah

We start the Jewish year with a thoughtful evening adult service and a morning family service, including separate activities for young children.

Yom Kippur

As Humanist Jews, we affirm the right of individuals to shape our own lives independent of supernatural authority throughout the year. At this time of year, we reflect on asking for human forgiveness, forgiving ourselves and others, and taking responsibility for self improvement. Our observances include:

  • Evening Kol Nidre service
  • Morning family service
  • Mid-day adult/teen service
  • Adult/teen and family break-fasts (we all enjoy the food even though many of us don’t fast!).

We interviewed some KB members to get their views on how we practice Yom Kippur here at Kahal B’raira:

Sukkot

We celebrate the fall harvest holiday with a family service and community sukkah building, while we consider the meaning of home and wandering in Jewish history.

Simchas Torah

We discuss the torah’s contribution to world literature and have a chance to view a torah scroll.

Chanukah

Emphasizing the human struggle for freedom, we celebrate Chanukah with a family service and rockin’ party with activities for kids.

The Sunday School kids sang some songs for Chanukkah (or Thanksgivica) this past winter. We recorded it:

Tu B’Shvat

Adult and Sunday School education focuses on environmental protection, including a community Tu B’Shvat seder.

Purim

We celebrate this story of human heroes with a Purim Spiel by our Youth Group, a raucous Purim carnival for kids with costumes, games, groggers, and lots of fun.

We recorded the Youth Group’s most recent Purim Spiel:

Passover

We hold a community seder using a secular Haggadah, which celebrates human freedom and dignity with the Passover story and traditional holiday symbols.

Yom Hashoah

We hold a moving Holocaust memorial service.

Services
Our unique Jewish humanist services take place fifteen times throughout the school year during our Sunday morning meetings.  They usually begin about 10:30 am but start time may vary depending on other activities of the morning.

Our member-led secular services include singing, reflection, discussion, celebration, healing and remembrance.  Services are engaging and understandable whether you have a little or a lot of prior Jewish experience.

Services are primarily in English and Hebrew is translated and transliterated so all may participate.

Throughout the year, we hold Friday night Shabbat services. Check the calendar for dates.

Sunday School

Kahal B’raira’s Humanistic Jewish Sunday School provides education for children grade pre-K to 9th.

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Our Sunday School provides…

  • A place for children to learn Jewish history, traditions, literature, ethics, and music
  • A space for our students to celebrate secular Jewish culture
  • An engaging, stimulating, fun, and welcoming experience for students of diverse backgrounds
  • A curriculum that emphasizes collaboration and critical thinking

Curriculum

The curriculum builds on four aspects of Humanistic Judaism: Identity, Community, Caring and Acceptance of Diversity. The full Sunday School curriculum is available for those interested.

Have Questions?  Want to Visit?

If you have questions about the program or want to arrange a visit contact the Education Director, Rachel Schoenfeld at eddirector@kahalbraira.org. See the Kahal B’raira calendar for dates.

The Sunday School meets 14 times between September and June on Sunday mornings from 9:10 am – noon. Sunday School is at the same time as the whole congregation meetings so that both parents and children can learn and participate.

Kahal B’raira’s program for 8th – 9th graders recognizes that students at this level should have influence over the program in which they will participate. Each year, before the school year begins, we meet with parents and students to consider a variety of program options.  We take into account the interests and abilities of the students and the values and priorities of the families involved.

Sunday school graduates may continue their involvement with the school as classroom and programmatic aides.  They provide valuable assistance in a variety of roles while they continue learning about Humanistic Judaism.  Many also participate in the Youth Group.

The Sunday school welcomes students with a variety of learning styles and needs.  A grant from Gateways, Access to Jewish Education, supports staff training and student education to promote access for all children and provides an ASL interpreter.

Many students also participate in our Bar-Bat Mitzvah program.

We encourage parental involvement with the school and tailor each student’s educational experience to their needs and abilities.

Sunday School tuition for 2016-17 for each child enrolled is as follows

  • Grades Pre-K to 7 $825
  • Grades 8 – 9 $335

There is a $50 discount for each additional child.

Families must be members of Kahal B’raira for their children to participate in the Sunday School. Visitors are welcome to visit the school.

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Bar/Bat Mitzvah
A Kahal B’raira Bar/Bat Mitzvah is an exploration of what it means to be Humanistic and Jewish.

  • The student works with a mentor/tutor, completes an independent study and a community service project, and creates a meaningful coming of age ceremony.  Adults members can also become Bar/Bat Mitzvah following the same process.
  • Some ceremonies involve reading from the torah while others focus on the student’s art, music, creative writing or other interests.  All are wonderful – each in their own way!
  • The process is integrated with KB’s 6th and 7th grade Sunday School class, with the support of the teacher and the B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator.

In one example, a KB bat mitzvah student created a calendar featuring paintings and drawings done by Palestinian and Israeli teenagers including a statement by each young artist about their lives and hopes.  She sold the calendars and donated the proceeds to three relationship-building organizations – ArtsBridge, Hand in Hand Schools and Seeds of Peace.

Here’s what KB families are saying after their child’s ceremony:

“My entire family was very moved by our son becoming a Bar Mitzvah.  The fact that the Hebrew, the prayers, all of the rituals, incorporated tradition but had integrity of Humanistic Judaism was especially important to us.”

“My son is bi-racial, and his mother’s family is African-American and not Jewish.  The theme of the service was being Black and Jewish.  I was told by many that it was unforgettable.”

Questions about the program?  Or do you want to discuss your families needs and interests? Contact info@kahalbraira.org.

Youth Group
Kahal B’raira’s Youth Group provides an opportunity for teens, 8th grade to 12th grade, to spend time together, have fun, and contribute to KB, and the greater community.

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The group meets once a month to unpack and discuss issues of Social Justice and Tikkun Olam.

In addition to monthly meetings, the group participates in two volunteer days (through local organizations), collaboratively produces KB’s Purim “Modern Megilla” and attends the HuJews Conclave (a conference sponsored by the society for Humanistic Judaism).

Here is a sampling of past activities:

  • Attending the Boston Jewish Film festival
  • Performing a “modern Megilla” and staffing booths during the congregation’s Purim carnival
  • Packaging items for a community organization’s Passover food distribution
  • Making a video. One video interviewed passersby on “the meaning of life.” Another video  interviewed KB members about what Humanistic Judaism means to them.

Meet our Youth Group Leader:  Sophia Brion-Meisels

Sophia Brion-Meisels is a Kahal B’raira alumni. She spent a decade as a professional dancer and then earned an MSW. She is a program director specializing in youth with complex trauma.

For more information contact Sophia Brion-Meisels at info@kahalbraira.org

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Family Activities

Sunday Programs

Our Sunday meetings occur fifteen times throughout academic year, from 9:15 a.m. until noon. The meetings begin with singing and a candle lighting ceremony. The children then go to Sunday School, which begins with an assembly with parents and children highlighting the upcoming holiday or theme of the Sunday School for that day.

Holidays

We celebrate many Jewish holidays with adults and children together.

Winter Getaway

Each year, the congregation organizes a group weekend at a New Hampshire ski resort. We occupy several buildings of the resort and have our own private dining area. Typical activities include skiing, snowshoeing, tubing, swimming, board games, reading, shopping, and socializing. The weekend provides an opportunity for adults and children to get to know each other better, to spark new friendships, and to have lots of fun. The weekend is for adults without children as well as families but is a family friendly atmosphere.

Family Potlucks

Potluck dinners, held in members’ homes, are a great opportunity for members to get together in an informal, fun, and lively (and tasty!) atmosphere. Held on Saturday nights, we celebrate Havdalah together.

Family Farm Day and Service Activities

Twice yearly, our families visit a farm and help bring local food to food pantries. We also pack welcome packages for children in foster care and take part in a variety of other service projects.

Adult Meetings, Activities and Learning

Sunday Programs

On fifteen Sundays, throughout the academic year, we meet from 9:15 am until noon.

We begin with all ages singing together after which children depart for Sunday school and adults enjoy coffee hour and discussion.

Each morning includes our Jewish humanist service.

Sundays also include either a holiday celebration or a presentation on history, humanism, current issues, art, theatre, etc. all from a Jewish perspective.  Speakers include authors, artists and experts in many fields.

Adult Education

Our adult education committee sponsors classes on Judaism and Jewish culture from a humanist perspective.  They can be one evening, a series of evenings or a weekend seminar.

Examples from previous years include study of the Talmud, history of the Jewish people, and principles of Humanistic Judaism.

Adult/Teen Potlucks

Potluck dinners, held in members’ homes on Saturday nights, provide a great opportunity for members to get together in an informal, fun, and lively (and tasty) atmosphere.