Chris Kraus joins Ohef Sholom Temple as its first director of Family Learning

by | Jun 23, 2015 | Other News

Ohef Sholom Temple’s Long Range Plan in 2006 envisioned engaging a full-time educator for its Religious School, but it wasn’t until 2013 when the Religious School Strategic Plan called for putting the vision into action. Throughout 2014, Linda Fox-Jarvis, then president, and the executive committee, with guidance from Kitty Wolf, interim educator, worked with the board and the RS committee to develop a job description and seek board approval. A search committee was appointed in January 2015 with the goal of hiring an educator by July 1. Although the search was time sensitive, the committee agreed to fill the position only with the ‘right person.’

In addition to hiring an educator for the Religious School, the committee sought someone who would address the needs of the congregation’s youth and their parents beyond the school years. As Ted Kaufman, OST president, outlined in his message at the recent Annual Congregational Meeting, his term is devoted to Youth Engagement or “Yalldeinu,” which translates as “Our Youth.” This echoed the theme of the 2014 URJ Biennial: Youth Begins with YOU. After reviewing 13 resumes and conducting several Skype interviews, the committee met Christopher Kraus and knew it was “mission accomplished.” As luck (or divine intervention) would have it, Kraus and his wife, Bari Cohen Kraus (a Norfolk native) wanted to relocate to the Norfolk area from Cincinnati, where he lived for 47 years and where he worked as the director of Lifelong Learning at Temple Sholom for the past four years.

Kraus’ final message in the Cincinnati Sholom Temple bulletin read: “Every educational innovation we have implemented at Temple Sholom the past four years is part of my replication plan at Ohef Sholom Temple: a community garden, justice partnerships with urban agencies and abroad, communal meals at school (Jews @ the World), theatrical productions, A Jewish Journey through Mind and Meditation, infants as teachers, Camp Lifelong Learning and other forms of experiential and interfaith learning.”

Rabbi Roz Mandelberg notes, “Chris brings a wealth of knowledge, creativity and innovation that will make our school engaging, exciting and meaningful for students, parents and all OST members. We can’t wait for his enthusiasm, experience and passion to transform our educational offerings for our congregation.”

“I look forward to meeting everyone of all ages and levels of engagement,” says Kraus. “I look forward to our learning together. And I thank God and OST for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

In fact, he and members of his family met many in the congregation at a Shabbat service on Friday, June 5, in which he and his wife participated and the oneg was in their honor.