Rabbi Yvonne Youngberg

MILFORD/STRATFORD — In two nearby towns, two synagogues plus two rabbis, plus curious young children, equals Yachad, a newly combined religious school.

Congregation Sinai of Milford and Temple Beth Sholom of Stratford have joined together to create Yachad, which in Hebrew means together.

Yachad is largely the result of the realities of small congregational life, said Rabbi Yvonne Youngberg of Temple Beth Shalom.

Youngberg notes that of fifteen students in her Hebrew school last year, three became bar or bat mitzvah and completed Hebrew school.

Our synagogue has always had a strong educational program and we wanted to insure that would continue-so we began to explore new models.

Youngberg feels it was fortuitous that the Conservative Congregation Sinai was moving from West Haven to Milford, approximately six miles from her own Conservative synagogue. Our lay leaders began talking and the six month process leading up to the merger [of the religious schools] was a very positive experience.

Rabbi Dana Bogatz of Congregation Sinai is similarly pleased and relieved by the merger. When I was in West Haven, the Hebrew school was run all by me — alone. I was a staff of one, plus a person helping on Sundays, Rabbi Bogatz said. I am delighted to be in a school with classes as opposed to before when I was teaching students privately. It is very different when students learn from each others.

Bogatz feels a strong affinity toward Sinai.

I used to sit on this pulpit, reports Bogatz affectionately. I had great input into the Hebrew School curriculum years ago.

Bogatz and Youngberg jointly made a few changes and modifications to the curriculum. Both are pleased to serve as teachers in the newly- formed school.

I am very excited to be teaching a combined bar/bat mitzvah class and a course on The Topical Bible. Bogatz said. We will be learning how to put lessons learned in Hebrew school in to practice in their lives.

Grades K-2 will meet at Temple Beth Sholom on Sundays. Grades 3-7 will meet at Temple Beth Sholom on Sundays and at Congregation Sinai on Wednesdays.

Youngberg feels, This is an appropriate and exciting model-and expanding their idea of community and helping them forge connections outside of their own synagogues will help them grow.

For more information about Yachad, contact Congregation Sinai at (203) 934-7946 or Temple Beth Sholom at (203) 378-6175.

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