The Center for Small Town Jewish Life will address the needs of Jewish students at small colleges and those of the communities that host them. As a collaborative effort of Colby Hillel, Colby’s Jewish Studies Program, and Waterville’s Beth Israel Congregation, the center will continue to develop the exemplary programming, leadership development initiatives, conferences, learning opportunities, and town-gown partnerships that have garnered national attention. The center will also research best practices in programming, outreach, and leadership in communities around the country, learning more about what small colleges and small towns need to create vibrant centers for Jewish living. It will establish guidelines and methodologies that other small Jewish communities can use to replicate Waterville’s success.
In its first three years, the Center for Small Town Jewish Life will:
- Provide effective and innovative programming for the Waterville community, including Colby students.
- Expand programming that serves other small congregations and colleges in Maine and New England.
- Identify the needs and strengths of small Jewish communities and small colleges in the United States, and develop and refine best practices for addressing these challenges and opportunities.
- Cultivate relationships with national Jewish organizations and with other small colleges and communities, and establish Colby as a recognized leader in providing rich opportunities for Jewish life and learning in resource-limited locations.
The center will bring together the best of both worlds: the vibrancy of Jewish educational and cultural programming from the big city, and the closeness and warmth of connection from the small college and small town. It will enrich and enliven Jewish life at small colleges and in small towns across New England and, eventually, nationwide.