CONNECT TO...The Road Less Traveled

When you think of a journey, what does your mind immediately conjure up? Perhaps you think of a long trip to exotic places, or an inner journey of transition from one place to another in your life. On Sunday, January 11th, a different kind of journey took place at JCC Manhattan. Twelve fourth and fifth graders, along with adult volunteers from the Engage community, participated in an intergenerational quilting session as part of the JCC's Jewish Journey Project (JJP).

JJP was conceived of by JCC Manhattan Executive Director Rabbi Joy Levitt, and is led by Rabbi Lori Forman-Jacobi. It is a collaborative effort of seven congregations, JCC Manhattan, and the 14th Street Y. The program is designed to offer an alternative pathway to pre-b’nai mitzvah Jewish education, with more than 30 courses for youngsters to choose from. Each child, grades 3-7, receives a “Jewish passport” to be filled with stamps from the courses and activities they participate in. They can choose from among classes and activities along five “pathways:”  Torah, God & Spirituality, Hebrew, Jewish Peoplehood, and Tikkun Olam.

At this opening session, Ellie Gluck, the quilting instructor, asked children to share why they had chosen to participate. Some came to learn how to quilt, others to make new friends and talk to people they might not meet otherwise. Ellie spread some completed quilts across the worktable and asked, “What do you think stories and quilts have to do with each other?” Youngsters’ hands waved in the air. “You can make a story out of a quilt to commemorate something special,” said one excited participant. 

Then the work began. Children practiced making design templates on card stock, measuring, and figuring out how many templates would fit onto a 4-inch square. A little mathematics served up in this hands-on experience had everyone totally engaged, with the adults around the table helping the children complete their tasks as way to initiate intergenerational conversations. 

Do you want to learn more about JJP or find out how you can volunteer? Visit

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