New, free Jewish learning experience coming to St. Louis

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This fall, Congregation Shaare Emeth will launch JQuest, a new Sunday morning learning experience for PreK and Kindergarten. JQuest is open to the community and no temple membership is required to participate.

“The experiential learning that happens in JQuest will be top-notch,” said Emily Cohen, Director of Family Engagement and Membership at Shaare Emeth. “But the part of the project I am most excited about is how it flips the traditional membership model on its head.” 

Cohen and the leadership at Shaare Emeth hope families all over the St. Louis area embrace this barrier-free entry to formal Jewish education.

“Becoming dues-paying members of a synagogue and paying religious school tuition are barriers that prevent many families from even trying Jewish education,” Cohen said. “I believe in the power of Jewish learning and community to transform the lives of families. I am proud that Shaare Emeth will offer more families access to that gift.”

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Thanks to the generosity of the Louis and Pauline Krasner Fund, JQuest is tuition-free for every single child. A small materials fee of $36 is the only cost for this year-long experience.

The JQuest program has three main components:

  • Weekly kids-only sessions: Pre-K & Kindergarten participants meet in grade-level groups on Sunday mornings with dynamic teachers as guides. They participate in hands-on, fun, age-appropriate Jewish programming with their friends.
  • Family and Me Experiences: A few times throughout the year, parents and siblings will join their child on Sunday mornings for Jewishly inspired family experiences at Shaare Emeth and around the community.
  • Parent Community and Support: Parents will have opportunities to connect with other parents and Shaare Emeth clergy, staff, and lay leadership throughout the year.

In addition to its innovative, family-centered educational approach, outreach and community-building are core components of JQuest, according to Rosalie Stein, Executive Director of Congregation Shaare Emeth.

“We are designing JQuest to feel relevant and exciting to all families, including families who may not yet be connected to a synagogue,” Stein said. “We’re focusing on personal outreach all over the community, especially in areas like St. Charles and the neighborhoods in St. Louis County and City where there are Jewish families but not many Jewish organizations with a variety of programs to serve them. Our goal is to expand beyond the four walls of our building and reach any family looking for a Jewish community.”

Introducing JQuest into Shaare Emeth’s array of educational offerings furthers the congregation’s mission.

“Shaare Emeth’s mission is to be a compassionate and inclusive community that makes Judaism relevant, meaningful, and joyful,” said Bill Remis, President of Congregation Shaare Emeth. “By removing membership and cost barriers, we are putting the value of inclusion into practice. Once families are connected, I look forward to watching them make meaning and experience the joy of Jewish life through their participation in JQuest.”

JQuest begins on Sunday, September 11, 2022. Those interested in learning more or signing up can find more info online or contact Emily Cohen at [email protected].