Rabbi Naftali Karp, who took over Project Shoresh five years ago, and Rabbi Raphie Schochet, who came to Rhode Island in 2004 to start the Providence Community Kollel, discussed the groups’ merger, and their plans going forward, during a joint email interview with The Jewish Voice.
Q. Please explain the mechanics of the merger. Are both groups – Shoresh and Kollel – meeting at one place, or have they kept separate locations? Do you foresee a new name for the merged group?
A. Although we serve numerous populations within Rhode Island and Southern New England – all ages and across the spectrums of Jewish observance – our goal remains the same: to give each individual a Jewish experience that is relevant, meaningful and inspiring to them.
We are currently engaged in a strategic planning procedure that will seamlessly integrate all that we do into one renamed organization, without losing any of the important brand recognition that we have built over the years.
Our goal is to significantly expand our lay leadership and build a strong membership base whose participation with us will enhance their involvement in their individual local organized Jewish life. By making Judaism meaningful, relevant and inspirational through Torah study and social interaction, it is our hope to activate within each person a connection with a deeper, more inspired, more significant relationship with God, and to have people experience how their Jewish life will enhance every aspect of their existence, from being better parents and better spouses [to being] in general better, more
balanced people overall.
Q. Are programs currently being offered throughout the day or only at specific times? Has the merger added to the variety of the programs?
A. Naturally, working together has given us greater reach, insight and energy to better serve the community. We offer programs throughout the day and well into the night. Executive study, lunch and learns, social gatherings, Shabbat dinners both in the home and in a communal setting, inspirational guest speakers, scotch and schmooze, Maimonides medical ethics breakfasts, Torah for Tycoons, as well as a very active study center located at 450 Elmgrove Ave., [Providence] with numerous ongoing classes and opportunities for individual studies.
Classes include Jewish history, philosophy, Mussar or personal character development, insights into the weekly parshah, Talmud taught on many different levels, and much more. We also lead trips to Israel, have off-site programming for young professionals, and meet people in local coffee shops and other venues. We are excited to engage all Jews no matter what their age, religious affiliation or level of observance.