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Who we are

Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel and tell them: you shall be holy,
for I, God, am holy! ( Vayikra 19:2 )

דַּבֵּר אֶל כָּל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם קְדשִֹׁים תִּהְיוּ כִּי קָדוֹשׁ אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלהֵֹיכֶם.

Jewish Congregation of Maui (JCM) Identity Statement

An Independent Egalitarian Pluralistic Community for Jewish Life
Jewish life comes in many forms. JCM is a beacon for that diversity. Since our founding,
JCM has intentionally been unaffiliated with any particular Jewish denomination. We
deeply respect and celebrate our shared values, culture, and history which unite us with
a tribal sense of family, while simultaneously recognizing that our diversity is our
strength. JCM affirms that every Jew is a vital part of an inclusive community. Everyone
is welcomed. This affords the opportunity for members to understand and develop
familiarity with a variety of Jewish practices and beliefs, some of which may differ from
their own. JCM holds that this is key to the continuation of Jewish life into the 21st
century and beyond.

Beit Shalom: Our Home

We cherish our Beit Knesset/House of Gathering as the Center of our community and a sanctuary space where Jews and their friends can come to recharge, socialize, study
and pray. It shelters a welcoming, vibrant environment where celebrations of all aspects
of Jewish life and the study of Torah inspire those who enter to share in our common
bond with the Jewish people, Jewish heritage, and Jewish traditions.

History of JCM

  The Jewish Congregation of Maui (JCM) was founded in the late 1970s by Jews from diverse backgrounds, practices, knowledge and geographical areas of the world. Meeting monthly at parks, community centers, and homes, they gathered to share Shabbat, religious holidays and festivals together. Being an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, away from mainland Jewish influences, JCM persevered and formed its own Jewish identity becoming a beacon to locals and tourists looking for a Jewish experience. Today we have our own building, Rabbi, and weekly Talmud Torah. Other recent successes include: live musical performances, communal meals on Shabbats and holidays, the building of a sustainable garden, drama classes for our youth, interfaith LGBTQAI+ dialogues, Children’s Shabbat Services, a teen program and our Rabbi visiting local schools to speak about Judaism, the Holocaust, Israel and antisemitism. 

  JCM currently has one full time clergy member and numerous contractors who we work with that provide educational, cultural and religious services. This is alongside 25 regular community volunteers who serve on the board and in the day-to-day operations of our synagogue. We are currently part of the Nitzavim Hawaiʻi initiative, a program of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, that brings together 26 leaders from 13 Jewish incorporated nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations throughout Hawaiʻi for a program that strengthen relationships, builds organizational and collective capacity, and explores collaboration in service to the community. Thanks to the Nitzavim Hawaiʻi initiative, we have good relationships with the other two entities on Maui that are affiliated with the Chabad movement. 

  We differ in that JCM is a non affiliated congregation which allows us to attract Jews from all branches of Judaism—from those who are religious; to those with little or no knowledge of their Jewish heritage, religion, or culture; to those on the fringes of “accepted” Judaism. We provide assistance to everyone whether local or tourist. JCM accepts everyone equally. JCM is currently the only resource for pluralistic Jewish education on Maui. We are at the forefront of providing Jewish education and services to intermarried families, same sex couples, and LGBTQ adults and children in our area. JCM is also conscious of people with disabilities and we are in the process of ensuring that all parts of our building are accessible. Our Rabbi is fluent in both Hebrew and English and the congregation speaks numerous different languages should there be a need for translation. Our prayer books offer extensive transliterations.

  Our educational content must provide the means for building a foundation in Jewish knowledge and identity. Our congregational school has a diverse population. The majority of our students have little knowledge of Jewishness, i.e., holidays, heritage, music, dance, and culture. They need to learn Hebrew values and customs. By promoting Jewish identity and cultural familiarity, they learn about their rich history and traditions. The goals of our educational program are to inspire children to develop a rich Jewish life through a love of pluralistic learning and developing friendships in a diverse community. 

  The key to what we are trying to do is to instill a sense of Jewishness in people. By focusing on our youth, who often have no understanding of what this means, we are hopeful that they will carry this knowledge into their own family life.

  On a creative level, we will be growing a Biblical garden that will provide hands-on educational programming for the students, teaching them Biblical knowledge with experiential learning. We also intend to empower teens who have completed the program to do leadership programming in a Madrichim (Guide) Program so that they can assist the teachers while becoming leaders in their own right. Lastly, we also intend to have a twinning component with Israeli youth where we will link our children with Israeli children to form bonds to share experiences and lifestyles.

  The audience for this program is Jewish and Jewish affiliated children from the ages of 5 to 18. We also hope to add, in the future, a component for the parents to encourage Jewish rituals in the home. We will do extensive advertising via Google search words (SEO) so that those who move to Maui can easily find us. Examples of search words will be: “Jewish Education”, “Jewish experiential learning”, “Jewish learning”, etc.

  Through differentiated educational programming, we will work with each child based on their ability and Jewish level of education. Through our creative and differentiated educational model we will fill the needs of different families, parents and their children, to learn about Judaism in an experiential way. By offering inspiring programs throughout the year taught by our regular educators, and by taking active roles in celebrating Jewish holidays, the students will build a toolbox for understanding Jewish concepts, and experiencing the holidays with their fellow students and their families.

  JCM has had many different educational programs especially as it went through the COVID epidemic. We are now attempting to return to a working model that existed before these challenging times and have met with partial success. We will be adapting the program to meet the needs of a generation that is increasingly tied to technology and instantaneous communication. Our program will seek to virtually partner with Israeli youth to encourage this phenomenon, having a positive impact on the lives of our students. Depending on enrollment, we are planning on having three classes: Aleph (youngest kids), Bet (ages 8-10), the B-Mitzvah Class (ages 11-13).

Thu, July 25 2024 19 Tammuz 5784