Kivvun: Blazing Your Child’s Jewish Path

Kivvun: Blazing Your Child's Jewish Path
Kivvun: Blazing Your Child’s Jewish Path

At CBSRZ we understand that growing up is largely about “pathfinding”, obstacles and all. Children turn to their parents for love and guidance, and that’s forever. As they begin to travel and move beyond the safety of their nests, we wonder who else will be the meaningful guides in their lives? Meet our educators.

We believe that Kivvun can be one of the most meaningful guides for your family. From birth through High School, we outfit children with tools for self-awareness and fearless learning utilizing the traditions and teachings of Judaism to help find their unique self-expression, meaning, and purpose in life.

Shofar Apprentice
Shofar Apprentice

Rather than inundate them with textbooks, lectures, tests, or homework, we understand the importance of action teaching our learners to “speak with their feet”. We cultivate the inner compass of every child by inserting them into our rich narrative, enabling them to find a direction to walk their own Jewish path – sometimes traditional and sometimes new.


Belinda Brennan


Kivvun Brochure

Kivvun Calendar

HATCHALA (Beginnings: Ages Birth to 4 Years)

9:30 – 10:15 am Sundays

For the youngest venturing on a path (walking yet or not), our Hatchala group meets twice a month. It is never too early to engage the senses and the intellect in Jewish holidays, traditions, and values. Parents stay with their children as our nurturing Morah Derech (Teacher of the way) shares fun-filled stories, gets everyone moving with music and dancing, sparks creative juices with arts and crafts, and provides real juice with something yummy for snack.

All participants of Hatchala are welcome to stay for the younger Kadima Service at 11:10 and join in for Kivvun communal programs for holidays such as Hanukkah, Purim, and Passover.

This group is a great way for parents to meet other parents of young children, taking some moments to have some coffee and share conversation. It is also a wonderful way for young children to connect and begin what often become life-long friendships.

KADIMA (Moving Forward: Grades K to 7)

As children continue forward on theirs paths of exploration and learning, they wrestle with life lessons through the investigation of Torah, discover the seasonal rythms of holidays and the lunar cycles of the Jewish calendar through food and art, share their questions about God and spirituality, build bridges from the past to present with Jewish history, and master Hebrew reading skills while learning about prayer and music. They experience Israel directly as they dialogue with young adults who visit monthly from our Israeli Emissary Program. Our older learners study how Judaism fits in the larger world from field trips to Mosques, Churches, stupa, and orthodox places of worship. Using multimedia materials, older learners also engage with the Holocaust to understand how the concepts of anti-semitism and tolerance continue to impact our lives today.

With “relationships” as a key driver, our youngest learners are the first to explore their worlds in relationship to God, our learners in grades 2 -3 add the focus of learning about themselves, and learners in grades 4 – 7 add the focus of learning about themselves within community. A value- driven philosophy is the thread that ties everything together. The concepts of Mitzvot (commanded obligations) and Middot (character traits) are embedded in every experience – from gratitude for the food we eat to serving those in need at the local Soup Kitchen, to foregoing B’nei Mitzvah gift money to make grant money available for a worthy cause selected by the learners. Learners in grades 4 – 5 are particularly fortunate to engage with ShalomLearning, a “cloud-based” mode of online learning materials.

Each learner is inserted into the Jewish narrative about time, space, and relationships, transforming each child to take action in their world based on their inner values, reverence for life, and passion for learning.

MASAH (Journey Onward: For Teens in Grades 8 to 12)


The path continues on after Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Kivvun offers a variety of ways for teens to deepen their relationships with self, with each other individual, and with the larger universe as they continue to integrating the traditions and teachings of Judaism into their everyday lives.

Gesher (Bridge)

For teens in grades 8 to 9; meets once a month per schedule. We have two groups – one for the girls and one for the guys.

Rosh Hodesh

rosh-hodesh-color-logo-300x164It’s a Girl Thing.  A program from Moving Traditions designed to empower young female teens was created around a contemporary celebration of the ancient New Moon holiday and is designed to build girls’ self-esteem, leadership skills, and Jewish identity. In a safe, respectful, and private environment, we explore topics such as Beauty, Self-care, Relationships, Money, Courage, and Community to name a few. All of these sessions are designed to connect Jewish wisdom to personal life experiences that are relevant to our young women through stories, food, arts and crafts, music, and more.

Shevat Achim

The Brotherhood. Created by the same makers as the girl’s program, Moving Traditions, an organization dedicated to engaging and re-energizing our teens in meaningful ways. Its content has been developed around 10 core issues: Manhood, Wisdom, Money, Competition, Courage, Body, Soul Stress, Pleasure (sexuality) and Vision (Friendships and relationships). As with the girls, this is a vulnerable time of adolescence when questions around “identity” naturally occur. This program will provide our boys with the opportunity to explore their spiritual and moral questions while integrating a Jewish lens through physical games, cooking, eating, and a variety of other “boy things” with space to talk, learn, and importantly, bond with each other and the group leader.

Makom (Place) Confirmation

For teens in 10th grade; meets twice a month per schedule.

Did you know that if you were a teenager in a Reform synagogue about 50 years ago, you probably would not have had a Bar or Bat Mitzvah? Instead, in 10th grade, you would have been confirmed. The early Reform movement did away with Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies at age 13 and replaced it with serious study at age 15-16, culminating in a Confirmation service where young Jewish adults would make a public commitment to live their lives as Jews. They thought age 13 was too young to truly make that commitment.

Today we have both Bar/Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation, because there is something valuable in each of these experiences. Confirmation is a chance to think and discuss ideas at a deeper level than you could when you were younger, and to discuss them with your peers and with the Rabbi. Here are some of the topics covered, mostly related to God:

  • Do you need to believe in God in order to be a “good Jew”?
  • If God is supposed to be good, then why is there evil in the world?
  • Is it possible for science and religious life to coexist?
  • What does it mean to have a relationship with God, or to experience God?
  • What do Jews think about what happens after we die?

At the end of the year, Makom creates and leads a service together. This annual service has become a highlight in the life of our whole congregation as they get to hear what our young adults think about God and Jewish identit.

Madrichim Program

For teens in grades 8 to 12.

Teens work as Teaching Assistants in Kadima ( learners in k-7), serving as role models, innovators of new ideas, and practical helpers to Teachers during Sunday morning sessions from September through May.

Mussar Theatre

For teens in Grades 8 to 12; meets once a month.

Mussar is an ancient spiritual practice that states we all have a spiritual curriculum. It teaches we have a variety of character traits such as love, patience, compassion, anger, jealousy which are all important, but we need them in the right “measure” – not too much, not too little (like Goldilocks and the Three Bears). Our curriculum comes from understanding which traits we need to personally work on to become a balanced, “whole” person. We combine the practice of Mussar with Improvisational Theatre as we explore one trait per month. It is a time for personal reflection and exploration along with tons of laughter and creativity.

Avodah Service Group

For teens in grades 8 to 12.


The idea that we “speak with our feet” requires us to help those in need. Teens have participated in projects such as cook-ins that result in making meals available for the local Soup Kitchen or community members, visiting folks in Senior Centers, preparing holiday Purim Baskets, and preparing a documentary showcasing Yiddish culture and more. Each year’s projects are designed based on the community’s needs.



We know how important it is to spend time with friends, doing things that friends love to do together.  Events are planned throughout the year, based on the group’s collective interests.

Sleep-overs in our building are a favorite –  hikes, bowling, and movies have been others.  We also seek to connect to other Jewish teen organizations such as NFTY (Northeast Federation of Temple Youth) as we remember that Jewish life extends beyond our walls in Chester.


55 East Kings Highway      Chester, CT 06412      860.526.8920

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