No matter what your age is or what stage of life you’re currently in, the Valley’s Jewish community offers programs for everyone. Here is a sample of ways you can get involved. For additional contact information, see the Jewish News Community Directory on jewishaz.com (the 2016 directory will be mailed to subscribers in September).
Children and families
For couples planning on getting married – or are recently married or even just dating – the Bureau of Jewish Education offers Jewish Marriage University, a marriage preparation/relationship course. The next course starts Oct. 18 and there is an extra session for interfaith couples. BJE also offers Jewish Baby University for expectant parents. The next six-week course starts Sept. 10 at Temple Kol Ami. For more details on either one, contact Linda Feldman, 480-634-8050.
Several synagogues offer Tot Shabbat services for little ones and their families, and both the East Valley JCC and the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center (VOSJCC) also offer family and after-school programs.
PJ Library sends a free Jewish children’s book or CD in the mail each month to families with young children. To sign up, visit pjlibrary.org.
For older children and teens, both JCCs offer programming, as do synagogues and BBYO. The B’nai Tzedek Youth Philanthropy Program, through the Jewish Community Foundation, offers opportunities for philanthropic-minded teens to get involved. Camp SWIFT is another way teens can help others. There is also a Jewish Girl Scout troop.
The BJE’s Hebrew High offers an educational and social experience for teens, as well as Hebrew for high school language credit. There’s also an eighth-grade group. Contact Myra Shindler, email@example.com.
The Jewish Student Union brings Jewish programming to several high school campuses in Phoenix and Scottsdale. A kickoff event for the new school year is scheduled for Aug. 23. Visit arizona.ncsy.org.
Several Chabad centers also offer bat mitzvah groups and CTeen offers teen programming. The Council for Jews With Special Needs and The Friendship Circle offer programming for children with special needs and their families.
College students have several options, too, including the Hillel Jewish Student Center, Jewish Arizonans on Campus (JAC) and the Rohr Chabad House, all based at Arizona State University.
Many organizations offer programming for individuals in their 20s and 30s, such as Moishe House, the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix’s Young Jewish Phoenix NOWGen program and Jewish National Fund’s JNFuture. The BJE offers ACT (Action, Connect, Think), that provides opportunities for young professionals to participate in social action and community service projects. Other groups include L’Chaim Young Jewish Professionals and jPhoenix.
The federation also offers Business & Professionals groups that are aimed at professionals in the legal, finance, real estate and technology fields.
Singles-oriented groups that have regular events include Valley Jewish Singles, for ages 50 and older; and Happenings, for ages 60 and older. Other groups include Chulent West and Phoenix Jewish Singles.
The JFCS Center for Senior Enrichment is located at Brookdale Christown in Phoenix and offers a wide variety of programming for seniors (visit jfcsaz.org). The VOSJCC has programs for active adults and the East Valley JCC in Chandler offers Terrific Tuesdays, a brown-bag meet-up featuring a variety of speakers and presentations.
Smile on Seniors is a volunteer-based program that offers Shabbat dinners and holiday programming for Jewish seniors and the Phoenix Holocaust Survivors’ Association – as well as its affiliate group, Generations After – is devoted to survivors’ needs.
Multiple national and international organizations have chapters here, including Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI), American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Brandeis National Committee, Hadassah, Jewish War Veterans, Jewish Women International, NA’AMAT USA, National Council of Jewish Women, ORT America, the Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework and the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Several local organizations offer ways to show support for Israel: AIPAC, AFSI, ARMDI, Jewish National Fund and Volunteers for Israel. The federation’s Israel Center aims to build connections between Israel and the Valley. Programs include guest speakers and musicians, movie nights and holiday celebrations.
For fitness buffs, the Valley of the Sun JCC offers adult basketball and softball leagues, and multiple fitness activities.
Arizona Adventurers, a Jewish outdoor club run by volunteers, organizes programs throughout the year, including group hikes and day trips.
The Phoenix Genealogy Group, part of the Arizona Jewish Historical Society, assists individuals interested in genealogy. The opening session is Aug. 26. Visit azjhs.org/genealogy.html.
AVIV of Arizona offers cultural and social events, as well as religious services, for LGBT Jews. Visit avivaz.com.
Several Chabad centers and synagogues offer social programs for Jewish women, such as sisterhoods, Women’s Leagues and Jewish Women’s Circles. The federation has a Women’s Philanthropy group that offers programming throughout the year.
A volunteer group is planning a second local Shabbat Project, Oct. 23-24, as well as the second annual challah bake on Oct. 22.
There are adult education opportunities to study about all aspects of Jewish life. In addition to classes offered at synagogues, some organizations are solely devoted to education: The Bureau of Jewish Education, the Jewish Enrichment Center, the Jewish Learning Center, the Phoenix Community Kollel, Valley Beit Midrash and The Women’s Jewish Learning Center offer classes on a variety of topics throughout the year.
The Arizona State University Center for Jewish Studies offers lecture series, community programs, international conferences and adult education classes.
Valley Beit Midrash’s kickoff event, featuring Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, is on Oct. 11. Visit valleybeitmidrash.org.
This is far from being a complete list of ways to get involved in your Jewish community. See other opportunities to get connected in this issue and check future issues of Jewish News for additional events, as well as our website, jewishaz.com.