Plans for a community hub at Beit Emanuel. Want to get involved?

On Thursday last week a small group met to share ideas about a proposed Community and Cultural Hub at Beit Emanuel and to consider what the initial focus may be.

The idea is to use the classrooms and other spaces in the Stalson Building to provide a hub for community activities, in partnership with outside organisations, and to create at Beit Emanuel a centre of secular learning, debate, social relationships, skills development and creativity. This centre will provide an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of big city living for all those who can access the precinct.

We explored some of the other programmes available in the area. We recognised that

the Rabbi Cyril Harris Community Centre at Great Park Synagogue and other centres successfully offer talks, movies and once off events. The major gap seems to be adult education courses and interactive programmes along the lines of Limmud. Also missing are meaningful dialogues between communities of different faiths to build understanding and connection.

The meeting agreed that we will begin our programmes in March/April 2017 by focusing on the interfaith elements of our centre. We will run programmes on peace-making, ethical values arising from diverse religions and cultures, collaboration between communities and understanding different faiths and approaches to spirituality.

The intention is to encompass spirituality and values broadly and not limit ourselves to the monotheistic traditions. We will offer yoga, tai chi, and other forms of mind-body activities. We wish to introduce art classes, choral or individual singing, drama and dance. These may be formal classes or opportunities for interested people to engage in group activities.

We did not discuss funding in much detail though this will need to be explored. For now, we are looking at volunteers to provide programmes and will probably need participants to pay a small fee towards covering costs and to give the facilitators a small honorarium. This is a short-term plan but longer term we will need to explore funding. Marketing will be crucial. Unless we can get public participation in programmes the Hub will not be viable.

My personal hope is to see the introduction of courses in, for example, African literature, art history and similar cultural themes, but perhaps this is the next stage of development.

At present, we propose to call the centre JHub—Cultural Centre for Ethical Learning.

If anyone is interested in getting involved or feels that they can contribute, please speak to Diane Fine (083 450 2089).


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