Can you tell me about the history and founding of JJP?
The Jewish Journey Project is the vision of Rabbi Joy Levitt, the Executive Director of the JCC Manhattan. In 2011, a professional advisory group was convened to guide the development process. During this year-long process, planning sessions included strategizing on educational theory and methodology, business plan development, marketing campaign development, and a financial management plan.
JJP launched its first, highly successful semester in Fall 2012 with its core synagogue partners: B’nai Jeshurun, Congregation Habonim, and SAJ-Society for the Advancement of Judaism. Since then, we have expanded and continue to expand to involve more synagogue partners Ansche Chesed. Central Synagogue and Shaare Zedek
How does JJP handle drop off, pick up, and supervision?
JJP courses start and end on time at the institution indicated in our course guide. Parents are responsible for coordinating the drop-off and timely pick up of their children from course locations. At each location, signs are posted directing parents to the specific area where the course meets.
Every venue where JJP courses meet has a designated Site Supervisor who supervises and supports JJP faculty, families and participants. Should any issues arise, you can speak to them at any point while courses are in session or immediately before or after course times.
How does JJP handle behavior challenges?
JJP Faculty and Administration approach behavior challenges proactively. Our Faculty and Administration are strategically trained on behavior management techniques and our Education and Inclusion Director works directly with each faculty members to structure courses that avoid behavior challenges whenever possible.
However, if a JJP participant presents a behavior challenge, the Faculty Member involves the Site Supervisor, who is able to either manage the situation on their own or call our Administrators for further support. Parents are always notified about behavior issues and involved in plans for moving forward. Should behavior challenges persist, Rabbi Lori Forman-Jacobi, Director of JJP, will discuss with parents how best to proceed.
My child has special needs. Is JJP appropriate for him/her?
We are committed to individual children’s journeys at JJP. We plan with families and faculty on a case-by-case basis to ensure that appropriate support is in place for participants with special needs. When completing our registration forms, please be as specific as possible with details about your child’s individual needs so that we can plan together appropriately. Contact Orlee Krass, JJP’s Educational Director and Inclusion Specialist at to begin planning your child’s journey!
How will my child stay connected to our synagogue community?
Because we recognize the importance of synagogue culture and the nuanced way of experiencing Judaism that denominations provide, each synagogue that is a JJP Partnership Institution will host a regular MeetUp for their JJP participants. MeetUp creates a space for JJP participants to develop and sustain social bonds within their congregation, and a time for synagogues to reinforce their unique culture, traditions, prayers, music, and values. We encourage all JJP participants to continue to attend services, celebrate holidays, and join in community with their home synagogue.
How does participating in JJP affect my child’s preparation for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
Each institution provides its own requirements for becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah and, if you are part of a JJP Partner institution, JJP is part of those requirements. Please contact your Education Director for details on what is expected and required for your child in your community.
More generally speaking, JJP approaches Bar/Bat Mitzvah as a milestone in children’s journeys, not an endpoint. We offer a range of courses that are valuable to the Coming of Age journey and beyond. In each of our five Pathways, we have courses that are specifically for participants in older grades. These courses provide an opportunity for participants to delve deeply into their personal experience with Judaism at a developmentally appropriate level, reinforcing the idea that Jewish learning continues for a lifetime.
If we are a JJP family and we do NOT belong to a synagogue, do you offer any options to celebrate their Coming of Age (Bar/Bat Mitzvah)?
We sure do! While JJP families that participate through The JCC do not have a traditional, prayer-based Bar/Bat Mitzvah through JJP, we do offer and encourage all families to participate in our seventh-grade program.
In 2014, we piloted our newest program for seventh-grade families: Brit Atid. Brit Atid means Covenant of the Future and includes year-long learning for seventh graders to explore what Coming of Age means to them in three ways: focusing on themselves, focusing on their families, and focusing on their community. The Brit Atid program includes monthly one-on-one learning sessions for the seventh grader and a highly skilled Jewish educator; monthly learning sessions for all seventh-grade families with the same Jewish educator; and an opportunity to take part in a specialized JJP community service class that is geared specifically for this age group. The Brit Atid program culminates in a large celebration with all families together at The JCC.
Families may choose to participate in the Brit Atid program as a supplement or alternative to a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. JJP provides families with resources to have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony, but does not provide tailored instruction to an individual participant’s Hebrew Torah portion, nor do we provide locations or officiants for the ceremony.
What happens after seventh grade? Can my child still participate in JJP once they’ve had their Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
Yes, and we hope they do! Because JJP approaches Bar/Bat Mitzvah as a milestone in children’s journeys, not an endpoint, we have specifically designed courses that welcome participants who have completed their Bar/Bat Mitzvah and/or Brit Atid year. We hope that once students reach 8th grade they will join the BBYO chapter at JJC Manhattan.
If I pay Hebrew School tuition at my synagogue, do I also have to pay tuition to JJP?
We do not belong to a synagogue and might be less involved in Jewish community than others. Or we belong to a synagogue that is not a partner Can we participate in JJP?
You do not have to belong to a partner synagogue, or any synagogue to participate in JJP. There is no expectation of Jewish knowledge to participate in JJP unless a course otherwise specifies.
Families who are not synagogue members can join JJP by paying tuition through the JCC Manhattan. Your child will also participate in JJP@JCC MeetUps. The cost for the 2016-2017 academic year is $2,450 for JCC members or $2,750 for public.
Is there any financial aid available?
Limited need-based financial aid is available. Contact us for more information if you are in need.
My child wants to take a course this fall, but it doesn’t fit our schedule. Can s/he take the course in the spring instead?
Because JJP is innovative, collaborative, and flexible, our courses change every semester in order to give participants the greatest range of options and experiences. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that courses being offered in the fall will be offered again in the spring. We make every attempt to regularly offer courses that fill up quickly, have a waiting list, or are particularly popular. You can see the previous semester’s course schedule here.
We have to register for courses so early! Our schedule might change between now and when courses start. What do we do?
Online registration for the Fall 2016 will take place beginning on June 14; online registration for the winter/spring semester will begin on December 5th. We recognize that schedules are complicated and may change, but we ask you to do your best to plan a schedule that will work for your child during advising. If your schedule does change, contact us and we will do our best to accommodate. Please be aware that some courses will be full and we may be unable to add your child to a full course if your schedule changes.
Is it possible to join mid-year for the spring semester?
Yes, we love to have new people join us! Contact us to discuss registration and tuition.
Courses & Credit
Will the courses change every semester?
Yes, they will! Because JJP is innovative, collaborative, and flexible, our courses change every semester in order to give participants the greatest range of options, experiences, and exposure. However, we will make every attempt to regularly offer courses that fill up quickly or are particularly popular.
If I have a specific question about my child’s course, how do I contact his/her teacher?
Before the start of each JJP course, JJP faculty send an introductory email to the parents of the participants who have registered for their course. The email will be sent to the addresses you provide at registration. You can use the contact information provided there to be in touch with Faculty Members directly if specific questions concerning the course arise.
If you’d ever like to discuss questions that a faculty member is unable to answer, contact us at the JJP office directly and we’ll be happy to answer you.
How much like school is this? Is there homework? Are there grades?
JJP is an educational program, not a school in the traditional sense.
As such, we do not have homework in the traditional sense. However, we do ask participants to prepare for sessions. Preparation for JJP courses might involve reading a poem, doing research on-line, or practicing skills at home. Preparation for JJP courses is not graded, but rather, encourages critical thinking and the development of skills that will be used during future courses sessions.
As such, we do not have grades in the traditional sense. Your child’s progress through each course will be assessed through their participation, contributions, and reflections. Upon successful completion of a course, your child will receive a Pathway stamp in his/her Passport, marking another experience on their ongoing Jewish Journey. Please consult the policy in place at your home synagogue for additional information on expectations and requirements.
What is the JJP attendance policy?
Participation is an essential part of progress. Children must be present in order to learn, interact, contribute, and grow. Therefore, JJP participants must attend at least 75% of course sessions in order to receive a Pathway stamp in their passport for the course.
If your child is going to be absent for a session, please be in touch with the Faculty member for that course. If your child misses several course sessions, Faculty members will reach out to you.
How is my child going to learn Hebrew?
Each synagogue or institution, as well as each individual family, approaches learning Hebrew differently. For that reason, while JJP’s Hebrew Pathway offers a range of courses, MeetUps at each synagogue may focus on learning more Hebrew that is specific to that community.
JJP’s Hebrew offerings include both in-person and home-based that teach participants liturgical and modern Hebrew. Our in-person courses are currently offered one day per week; our on-line, home-based courses are part of a program called Hebrew Homepage. Because Hebrew reading and/or speaking fluency cannot be achieved if one only practices the language one day each week, we expect and hope that JJP participants will practice Hebrew at home as often as possible.
In addition, Hebrew is interwoven into JJP courses offered along each of the four other Pathways. By integrating Hebrew skill acquisition across our curriculum, we reinforce the understanding that Jewish learning is not compartmentalized. We do not learn Hebrew solely to pray in Hebrew; Hebrew is a part of the fabric of Jewish life.
I have an idea for a course. I know someone who would be great at teaching a course. Who should I contact?
One of the greatest resources available to JJP is you! Tell us all about your ideas, please! If you have an idea for a course or know someone who does, please contact us.
Jewish Journey Project Overview