Aleph Bet Children's Center is a three-star (out of a possible three) progam for two- to four-year-olds that welcomes children of all faiths and nationalities.


Chattanooga has had a joint Sunday School for over 20 years. This year, we are incredibly excited to be piloting a brand-new Sunday educational initiative, Machanooga! A combination of the Hebrew word “machaneh,” (which means camp) and Chattanooga, our new program is going to be a high-energy, fun, and experiential endeavor. We even have our own theme song, Gesher Tzar Meod (“The Narrow Bridge”) in honor of our very own City of Bridges!

The inaugural year of Machanooga will take place at Mizpah Congregation and will be headed by Rabbi Lewis (above, right) and Eytan Oren, Director of Education at B’nai Zion, (above, left) who will serve as co-directors. Lily Dropkin will serve as Rosh-Nooga, or Camp Administrator, coordinating supplies, handling teacher and parent communications, and managing the day-to-day details. Rabbi Tendler will be sharing in curriculum development and guidance, and will also be involved in the madrichim program and various other projects.

The creation of this new school has been an exciting process and is a wonderful sign of the collaborative spirit we enjoy in the Chattanooga Jewish community. We give special thanks to our committee: Alison Lebovitz, Tal Cohen, Henry Schulson, Jordan Parker, Rob Cowan, Alan Richelson, Beth Lowe, and Lee Brouner, who were convened along with the community rabbis and educators, by Michael Dzik, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation,and who spared no expense in bringing in a consultant and hosting these important meetings.

Our collective vision for Machanooga is to infuse the ruach (spirit) of Jewish summer camp into our weekly sessions. Every Sunday will begin with shirah, lively singing and a fun presentation of Jewish values and Hebrew vocabulary. Grade level curriculum will focus on key Jewish values, and, taking full advantage of our reputation as the Gig City, we will be using web-connected technology from Shalom Learning for classroom presentations to inspire meaningful discussions that lead to true learning.

Another twist, again incorporating the best of Jewish camping, is to offer chugim (electives). Part of each Sunday session will be devoted to specialized programming led by experts who will offer fun and creative ways to teach Jewish values, customs, and history, whether through explorations of Jewish comedy, or drama, or cooking, or gardening, or pottery, or creative writing, or comic books, or anything else our teachers and community members can dream up. Students in grades four and above will get to choose from among three chugim in which to to participate for three-week blocks. Students in the younger grades will have a fun “chug” assigned to their class, rotating every three weeks. Final products and presentations of the chugim will be displayed for parents and friends to enjoy.

As for our older teens, the beloved madrichim, we will be devoting more resources to their development as young leaders, offering instruction in classroom management, lesson writing, and presentations. We will help them become more confident as they engage in their roles as assistant teachers at Machanooga. And, yes, they will still be paid for their time and efforts.

Reach out to Co-Directors Rabbi Craig Lewis ( or Eytan Oren ( to talk about dates, ideas, registration, or anything else Machanooga related! Please do not hesitate to volunteer or to ask any questions. No offer or commitment is too small!

Take advantage of us! The Federation subsidizes travel to Israel and tuition to Jewish summer camps.