Grant Announcement: Kulanu Tot Shabbat with Hinenu

Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebl is a start-up congregation committed to social justice and creating a home for joyful, inclusive Jewish community. Half of our congregation (current membership of 120) is LGBTQ-identified. We have yet to offer youth programming but our members, particularly those with young children, have been requesting it. Through this grant program, Hinenu is proposing to offer a monthly Tot Shabbat during our regular Shabbat morning programming. The format of monthly Tot Shabbat is familiar to many young families in Baltimore; the innovation is the infusion of our congregation’s values into early childhood education, from how we select books and songs about families and people to how we talk about the meaning of holidays and the opportunity to connect them to the experiences of LGBTQ+ families and children. Explicitly welcoming LGBTQ+ Jews and their loved ones to Hinenu is a priority in all of our programming. Centering the value of hachnasat orchim in this Tot Shabbat programming builds connection between LGBTQ+ families and their allies. Moreover, we anticipate that this programming will offer a safe, welcoming Jewish space for LGBTQ+ families currently affiliated with Jewish communal life.

Hinenu’s rabbi, Rabbi Ariana Katz, has identified a Tot Shabbat youth educator with a focus in music and arts education to collaborate on developing a curricular arc exploring Jewish holidays and values. Books like, “The Last Place You Look” and “The Purim Superhero,” written about LGBT Jewish families, will be incorporated. We recently begun launched a Hinenu families listserv, through which we will promote and solicit feedback on Tot Shabbat programming. Shabbatot will take place monthly between November 2019 and March 2020. Funds will support space rental at Homewood Friends, where Hinenu services are held; Tot Shabbat educator; snacks and supplies; and one hour per month of the Rabbi’s time for planning, promotion, and curriculum review.

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