Celebrating SUKKOT 5780

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THE WELL - CHALLENGING THE MIND, NOURISHING THE SOUL

By: Frieda Schweky



In loving memory of the Sassoon Children

The women in our community work hard every day to keep their households, jobs, and marriages going. Day to day challenges come and go, and memories of the knowledge gained from school and other learning fade as life moves forward. Thankfully, since The Well NY opened up in 2017, this no longer has to be the case. The Well is a place of renewed learning, for women, and run by women. Girls right out of high school to great grandmothers, and everyone in-between are invited to come, to learn, and to grow.

Classes for Everyone

The Well offers classes in a wide range of subjects, all catering to what the modern Sephardic women would want to know. Options range from classes in cooking, sewing, painting, and interior design, to courses that offer mental challenges, like in-depth Torah and Judaic studies, psychology, and lots more. Each semester The Well evolves, and along with that comes an array of new class options to choose from. The beauty about this school is that, unlike other college- or adult-education programs, you need no prior degree or knowledge about a subject, you simply choose what piques your interest, and sign up! The Well also happily welcomes women of all religious backgrounds and observance levels. You aren’t expected to belong to a certain synagogue or anything of the sort to join in the fun.

The Well schedule is based around the Jewish woman's schedule as well as the Hebrew calendar. At the start of each semester, The Well holds a class launch event where women are invited to hear a small introduction about each class, and afterwards they are able to register for them. The Well’s educational courses are in high demand, and some classes fill up within days, and some within just hours. The Well has reported that the most popular classes relate to psychology and anything that takes place in the kitchen. Some classes are filled to capacity and there is standing room only!

It’s truly an exciting thing, the thirst for knowledge amongst community women. Many women lean towards reviewing subjects that they learned as adolescents in school. To internalize a subject on an adult level is a completely different experience. 

Benefits Beyond Classroom Learning

There are so many different points to ponder when one considers the benefits of furthering one’s education in adulthood. One consideration is that it makes a person stop and take time for themselves. Self-care is so important, especially to those who take care of others. To metaphorically put on your oxygen mask before assisting others can make all the difference. Stopping your busy week to come into The Well, learn something new, and interact with others can be all the self-care one needs to get through the rest of their week with a pep in their step.

Secondly, a mother is one of the most significant, if not the most important role model in a household. If you’re preaching the importance of your children going to school and getting an education, what better way to model that for them other than with your own actions? One way to do this is to consider how you spend your days. Are they filled with mainly mundane things, or do you stop and take the time to do things that will push you to think and grow? Another amazing benefit of taking classes at The Well is the boost to dinnertime conversations, and any conversation for that matter. Picture this: you ask your children to go around the Shabbat table and discuss something interesting they’ve learned in school that week. Wouldn’t it be incredible to pitch in on one of their ideas with new information, or better yet, have your own awesome piece of wisdom to share and teach?! For these reasons and many more, The Well has improved the lives of community women and mothers over the past two years.

“I love the atmosphere, the colors of the building, the quotes on the wall,” said Sarah Cohen

Kassin, a young student at The Well relates, “Once I was done with college, I had this thirst for Judaic  knowledge, so I signed up for a class at The Well. It was about the megillot and Shir HaShirim. That class and the ones that I chose to take after really filled a spiritual void in me. I learned life lessons I could apply, and sat amongst adults that wanted to be there and asked great questions. I enjoy the Judaic classes but I also enjoy the wide range of other topics that helped make me the well-rounded and growing individual I am today.”

Special Programming

In addition to the courses, The Well also offers a variety of programs throughout the year in which they welcome all community women to partake in. On Hanukah, a very exciting event dubbed “Doughnut Wars” is held. This interactive event features multiple teams who battle it out in the kitchen, making sweet, oily, traditional, and creative treats to present to esteemed judges. In the end, the audience gets a chance to walk around and sample the doughnuts for themselves! Suffice it to say it’s a well-attended event!

Additionally, once a month, The Well gets a speaker to come in to give a free class. During this event, they have added a brand-new initiative called The Well-X. They offer the chance for a home cook, who typically sells her cooked goods, to cater the event and get paid for her services. This not only gives her the business from this event but also gives her the chance to showcase her talents to potential clients at the class. They’re always looking for new chefs so if this sounds like something you’d be interested in doing be sure to reach out!

Before almost every holiday, you can count on The Well to get you into the spirit. As community women are busy with cooking, errands, and getting everyone’s outfits together, The Well prepares a spiritually uplifting morning on the topic of that specific holiday. There is no charge for these beautiful classes - even though they offer a scrumptious hot breakfast (including their famous Nespresso station) and, of course, some kind of exciting raffle and giveaways. 

“It’s hard for me to take on a class for a whole semester all the time, with four little ones at home, but I do make it my business to attend the events at The Well,” said community member Sarah Halawani. “I just love being in the building, around great strong women, seeing all the creativity and hard work they put in just so we can enjoy and learn.” Sarah continued, “The Well is so giving and generous in everything they do. At one event some technical difficulties were causing a delay - they started to give out ‘The Well’ beanies, glitter ‘The Well’ iPhone cases... talk about swag!”

Hesedat The Well

One of the greatest hesed projects that is continuously going on at The Well is the initiative called Well-Fed. The program is funded by Jimmy Haddad in honor of his wife Ricci. For this, women get together in the kitchen at The Well to cook meals specifically for the food pantry at Sephardic Bikur Holim. Family members and friends get together for this beautiful cause. All the meals that come out of The Well kitchen are packaged beautifully and labeled clearly. The love and effort that goes into each meal put them in high demand at the pantry!

“The SBH food pantry now has a special freezer for meals made from The Well-Fed program!” said Sheri Shabot, a student of The Well. “The clients at SBH light up when they receive these prepared meals, which are delicious and are often made for Shabbat and holidays. It’s a pleasure working with Gayle, as she meticulously oversees this amazing program.”

Whether it is a parenting class, a language class, or an art class, The Well recruits community professionals to teach the class and to put together a seamless curriculum for everyone to enjoy. The teachers assume the student knows nothing, and start from the beginning to make sure no one gets left behind!

Each day at The Well there is a new goal, and the long term-goal is for The Well to one day become an accredited college, so women can walk away with earned degrees in the subjects they take!

New Location

Here is exciting news: The Well will soon be moving to 520 Kings Highway!

To donate or to learn more about this invaluable community recourse, head to www.WellNY.org.

In loving memory of the Sassoon Children