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The Beth-El Congregation welcomed Senior Rabbi Brian Zimmerman in July, who put “college program” on his to-do list.
This fall semester the College Outreach program started as an effort for the congregation to stay in touch with members who leave for college.
Instead of asking why people in their 20s aren’t coming, Zimmerman said the correct approach is to ask students how the congregation can have a meaningful role in their life after they leave home.
“The first step is to make ourselves available, and remind all of our high school graduates that we are still here, and ready to be apart of their lives,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman said the program includes a multitude of things for out-of-town students:
• Starbucks’ gift cards to recent high school graduates for the Jewish New Year
• Sending packages around holidays
• The chance of a reunion in the summer or December
• Opportunities for college students to come back and talk to younger members
• Making sure they receive the online bulletin
Zimmerman also plans to visit college campuses to have dinner with students.
“It’s my goal to drive out to those campuses for a night and buy them dinner on the temple, and say I’m coming here for an evening, because we want to know how you’re doing and we want to remind you we are here for you and for the future,” Zimmerman said.
According to the TCU Fact Book from 2015 there were 163 students who self-identified as Jewish, and Zimmerman said he wants the program to extend to those students and the TCU community.
“The second piece is how can Beth-El be the home for anyone, not only from Fort Worth, but any Jewish students who might have come from anywhere in the country,” Zimmerman said.
He said his goal is to have the estimated 50 to 60 college students to be a part of the program and to be the point of contact for the community.
“I am hoping that among the students that are on my list we are going to start doing things for them and they’re going to start saying ‘Oh, we’ve never had this kind of outreach before, let’s pursue this,’” Zimmerman said.