THE MASKIT STORY
Created by Ashreynu’s Rabbi Pearl over twenty years ago, MASKIT is wholistic, creative, and thoughtful approach to Jewish education through project-based learning. For many years, across different congregations and contexts, people would approach Rabbi Pearl and confess how much they hated their Hebrew school experience. By creating the MASKIT youth education program, Rabbi Pearl sought to create a way for Jewish children to love being Jewish and to celebrate Shabbat in community.
On the cutting edge of transformative Hebrew school experiences and relational Judaism, he first created the innovative MASKIT program in the 1990s, during his rabbinate at Reconstructionist Congregation Beth Emeth. Drawing from his own love of yahadut, he created MASKIT to center the love of Judaism as the core of how Judaism is taught to children.
In 2006, Rabbi Pearl brought the MASKIT approach to his community at Astoria Center of Israel, growing new roots for the program in Astoria. In 2008, Ayelet Pearl joined as educator and later the director, and in 2014, Stephanie Luxenberg joined as an educator and co-director.
That love is still the center of MASKIT, 25 years later, and is clear from how students run into classes, and burst happily through the front door on a Shabbat morning. MASKIT has grown into a thriving school in Astoria adapting to the needs of the community, adding new programs, new teachers, new approaches to project based learning, all while staying focused on cultivating a love of Judaism as one of MASKIT’s core values.