Kevah: The Making of a Kevah Group

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The Making of a Kevah Group

Posted by David Kasher on 12 September 2016 | Comments

When something is working extremely well, it appears to take no effort at all.  That is precisely the feeling participants often have when they walk into their first Kevah group: that everything just fell perfectly into place.

But the truth is, behind the scenes, a tremendous amount of effort goes into the launching of every new group. Kevah's Group Support team is constantly laying all the groundwork to make sure your experience with Jewish learning is as smooth and easy as possible. So here is a peek behind the curtain, to give you all an understanding of how a Kevah Group is “made.”aschlesinger

    1. Identifying the Group Host -  Every Kevah group has one person who serves as the Host. This is role is something like the party planner: they put together the guest list, they choose the topic, and they will often host the first group meeting. Sometimes this person comes to Kevah; they’ve heard of Kevah and are either interested in doing more learning, or have a desire for more of a Jewish community, or both. Other times, Kevah's Program Associates meet new Group Hosts at local Jewish community events, or through conversation and word-of-mouth. This first step is critical to Kevah's learning model; because Kevah Groups are built around existing social networks, without a Group Host, there is no group.
    2. Visioning the Learning – Even when the Group Host comes to Kevah actively seeking Jewish learning, they are not always sure exactly what they are looking for. This may be the first time they have done text study, or they may not know how to introduce learning to their friends. So Kevah's program team begins by laying out the basic options. They often start by asking whether the group is interested in a particular genre of Jewish text – such as Talmud, Prophets, or Jewish Philosophy – or a certain topic – such as ‘Parenting,’ ‘Ethical Dilemmas,’ or ‘Power and Politics.’ Once the Program Associate has a sense of where a Host's interests lie, she can begin to think about how to match them with the perfect educator.
    3. Finding the Learners – Sometimes groups come to Kevah fully formed, but more often, a new Group Host only has 2-3 people in mind for the group. After years of experience supporting hundreds of groups, Kevah has found that groups are most sustainable once they have 8-12 participants who attend regularly. So Kevah helps Hosts brainstorm other potential invitees.  A Kevah group is an ideal way to see best friends regularly as well as to deepen connections with favorite acquaintances. Kevah 234
    4. Matchmaking  Once the group is in place, Kevah's Education Department begins reaching out to educators. This  “matchmaking” process is central to the customized Kevah learning experience. Once a potential educator has been identified, a call is set up between the Group Host and the Educator. They will have a discussion about not only the content of the learning, but also about the culture and character of the group – which Kevah has found to be critical factors in the planning of a text study. Kevah learning is truly tailored to the interest, level, and needs of the learners.
    5. It’s a Match! – Once the Educator and the Group Host have spoken, and both are eager to move ahead, Kevah's program team works closely with the host to schedule the group's first 5-10 session series.
    6. Register and Remind – The Group Support team then registers all groups members, sends out reminders for attendance, and processes registration payments in a customized and secure system that guards all information.
    7. Feedback – One of the central principles at Kevah is that high quality is maintained through regular feedback. So feedback is taken from everyone in the group at several intervals throughout the learning season. Program Associates check-in with Hosts after the first and second session, to make sure everything is going well, and all participants fill out a survey at the midpoint and end of the year. If any dissatisfactions arise, Kevah works with the Educator and/or the Host to coach them through the challenges. This careful attention to feedback leads to the high rate of satisfaction that most of our groups report at the end of the year, and the high rate of retention of groups from year to year.

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So there you have it -- the nuts and bolts of the Kevah machinery that powers the large network of groups across the country. Your entry into a Kevah group should be smooth and efficient. All of that back-end work is worth it when it brings learners to the point of all this work: providing accessible and transformative Torah learning within a sacred community of friends.

Contact groups@kevah.org to start or join a Kevah group today!

Photographs by Laura Turbow