939N. Push .5t, Chkaio. IL
our constituents? You have to
have those answers before you
can reach out," Mr. Berman said.
"Now we know."
The Heritage Center of the
Jewish Education Society of
North America evaluates and
stores the best in teaching tech-
niques and programs. Mr.
Berman generated the funds for
But perhaps Mr. Berman's
most-used contribution to Detroit
and Jewish education bears a dif-
JEFF (Jewish Experiences For
Families) aims to guide congre-
gations in raising activity level
and awareness through informal
programming. JEFF offers indi-
vidual temple and synagogue ac-
tivities in addition to
community-wide events. Each
congregation pays into the plan.
The concept grew from Mr.
Berman's desire to see more than
a core involvement in his con-
gregation, Shaarey Zedek.
"Bill Davidson and I got to
talking. If there were 1,500 con-
gregants, 300 made up an active
core. It's like circles in trees. And
we wanted to reach the next
300," Mr. Berman said.
The two men "threw some
money in a pot" and approached
Rabbi Irwin Groner with the
idea. Rabbi Groner hired Harlene
Appelman to develop and run
"It soon became apparent this
program belonged to the corn-
munity, but it needed the full
support of temple and synagogue
boards and their rabbis. I knew
the congregations had to buy into
it. And they have to own it as
well," Mr. Berman said.
Again, Mr. Berman went fund-
Now entering its eighth year,
JEFF has serviced every Reform
and Conservative congregation
in Detroit on some level. Some
use JEFF as a resource, others
depend more heavily upon pro-
gramming. Community-wide ac-
tivities are open to all Jewish
Last year the Avi Chai Foun-
dation — a national organization
focusing on outreach program-
ming — studied JEFF and de-
termined it indeed fulfilled its
original mission of involving syn-
agogues as partners to enhance
the involvement of marginally-
With help from the Whizin In-
stitute for Jewish Family Living
in California, the Avi Chai Foun-
dation is piloting JEFF in five of
the 26 congregations of the
Metrowest area in New Jersey.
Ms. Appelman is instituting
the program and writing the
handbook of the successes and
failures of JEFF.
"They (congregations) all
wanted JEFF. The five that were
chosen broke champagne bottles
when they heard," Mr. Berman
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