WIESBADEN, Germany – When a Jewish teen saw the adult education classes at U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, he asked former Religious Education Program director Rebecca Powell why they couldn’t have the same courses for youth his age. Powell went to work and began the Installation Management Command Europe Jewish Religious Education Program, which has now spread around the globe offering support for Jewish children, youth and adults.
“This is what we do,” said IMCOM-Europe’s Director of Religious Education Grace Yeuell. “We try to be responsive to the community to provide programs and services they’re interested in.”
The program succeeds because of the commitment of staff across IMCOM and numerous volunteer teachers who facilitate weekly classes online across multiple time zones, Yeuell said.
Besides the online education portions of the program, groups also gather locally to join the larger online community. Recently a group of children met in person at USAG Rheinland-Pfalz for Chocolate Seder. The activity connected the group with others in Vilseck and Muenster, Germany, as well as in France and Japan.
The program grew in response to the excitement of Jewish families and Soldiers that the Army was creating a program tailored to them, Yeuell said. The Jewish population often isn’t large enough in one area to support an in-person program. Service members and their families can tap into the online courses no matter where they are stationed to connect with others of their faith.
Yeuell provided feedback from one of the Jewish Religious Education Program's volunteer teachers: “Teaching this class is an extraordinary experience! I love getting to know these students, many of whom live in areas which do not offer them other access to high-quality Jewish learning experiences. It is a pleasure each week to see their continued engagement both with each other, myself and with the course material.”
For more information on the Jewish Religious Education Program or programs for other faiths, contact your local garrison Religious Support Office.