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Agreement near in debate over JCC kids’ classes
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Agreement near in debate over JCC kids’ classes

Alexis Gruber, the JCC’s Jewish educator for children and families, teaches children about the Torah at a class in October 2010. Photo courtesy JCC MetroWest
Alexis Gruber, the JCC’s Jewish educator for children and families, teaches children about the Torah at a class in October 2010. Photo courtesy JCC MetroWest

Without specifying details, synagogue leaders and JCC MetroWest officials say they are nearing resolution of a dispute over a Jewish early childhood education program that began at the JCC last September.

Some rabbis, congregation presidents, and education directors worried the new program, called GAN, would undercut their own early childhood programs and efforts to attract new families.

But in a Feb. 3 meeting, JCC president Steve Seiden of Livingston and Rabbi Donald Rossoff of Temple B’nai Or in Morristown reportedly reached tentative agreement on a plan to reconcile the dispute.

Rossoff, who heads the rabbinic cabinet of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ, declined to discuss details until the plan was reviewed by the JCC and congregation leaders.

“I took the proposal we came up with and I sent it out to our subcommittee of five rabbis, educators, and congregation presidents,” said Rossoff on Feb. 3. “Once they are on board, we will distribute it to the rest of the rabbis, educators, and presidents and hopefully get a consensus. The JCC board also has to approve it. I am very confident.”

Alan Feldman, the JCC’s executive director, also said talks are continuing.

“We’ve been talking to the representatives of rabbis about how we can best work together,” Feldman told NJJN.

The JCC launched the GAN program last fall with Tuesday afternoon classes for 27 kindergarten, first-, and second-grade students.

Supporters said the program offered unaffiliated Jews — including many who may not have been comfortable in a synagogue setting — exposure to Jewish learning and experiences.

But Rossoff and other MetroWest rabbis and congregational leaders were concerned that the JCC was moving in on turf usually associated with synagogues, where early childhood programs often serve as gateways for new members.

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