Creating a Kehillah Kedoshah (Holy Community)

Ideas generated from 2015-2016 Teacher Meeting meetings

Guide your madrichim in ways they can contribute towards your kehillah kedoshah.

Creating Rules

  • Have the students help develop the class rules.  What commitments will we make to each other to create a kehillah kedoshah?
  • Display the rules in your class.
  • Refer to the rules as needed.
  • Connect to High Holy Days—times to think about the person you want to be in the coming year.

When students enter class

  • Greeting them, asking about their day, helping them get engaged in an activity

Class Routines

  • Create time to share how they are doing, validate feelings, support one another, give tzedakah—our kehillah does mitzvot together.
  • Jewish rituals: saying Shehecheyanu to recognize birthdays and births in their family and achievements in their lives, first time doing something as a class, saying “la’asok b’divrei Torah” before Torah study, when doing tefillah, change their space or face east…

Class Environment

  • Bulletin boards that display the students’ work.
  • Mitzvah tree--kids and teacher write on a leaf what they noticed someone else did, catching them when they are good and encouraging the kids to notice and express gratitude to each other.
  • Have students facing each other, set up for collaboration
  • Sally’s reading area—students asked her for a cozy space to work together, and she created it for them—the students can make decisions for their kehillah and have their needs met.

Snack Time

  • Help students connect to each other.
  • Share stories


  • Having students read with a partner, giving them guidance on how to help each other—reading buddies charts in grades 2-6. 
  • May’s Hebrew reading buddies read on the phone to each other for homework.
  • Not having students struggle with their reading or Hebrew knowledge in front of everyone.


  • Creating a sacred space and different behavior—quieter, more focused, breathing exercises..
  • Having students taking a lead to lead tefillot for their kehillah.


  • Build connections—get to know each other, prompt questions to help them connect, projects that get them working together, talking to each other

Chevruta/small group work

  • Guided questions to help students be active listeners
  • Ask students to share their partner’s ideas when you come back to large group to ensure they are listening to each other.
  • Roles for each person in the kehillah, so they feel valued and can contribute.
  • Specific feedback on how they worked together--“when you listened to each other in your small group, you heard different ideas, and you each learned more and came up with more ideas than if you had done this by yourself.” 
  • Have students reflect on how they worked together and how they can work together better in the future.

Class Discussions

  • Guide students in responding to one another--see ideas here.
  • Create a kehillah in which listening to different perspectives is valued.
  • Students should feel safe to share their ideas and to engage in critical thinking by challenging each other's ideas in respectful ways. 
  • Create hand signals for your class for the students to show that they have the same idea, different idea, or would like to add on to an idea.  Can use thumbs up, thumb to the side, 2 fingers up…

Parent Communication and involvement

  • Find something positive about each student for the next five weeks and send individual emails home.
  • Let parents know you value their children and see the parents as partners in their children's Jewish education. You recognize the ways that they help their children engage in Jewish living. They are part of the class’s kehillah kedoshah.
  • Invite parents to come in to share ways their family practices a Jewish tradition, or to share a Jewish ritual object...

When a student is absent more than once or is sick

  • Teacher reaches out to student to let them know they were missed, is everything ok.
  • Student buddies in class could reach out to their buddies when they are out to share what they missed, do Hebrew reading together… Buddies could make get well cards for the class to sign and give to the teacher who can give it to Jennifer to send home.

Community Building activities

  • Ice breakers—see ideas on Teacher webpage—help students get to know each other’s names
  • Who Am I? Mi Ani? How will students learn about each other in your class—both in the beginning of the year and throughout.  Mi Ani—having a student share something about themselves, including objects from home—one per class. Students can ask them questions, help build connections between students.  Silent applause (raise your hands and wiggle them) if you share that trait/interest with that person.
  • Class buddies can reach out to each other when attending BAS services, youth events, or other programs. 

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