Rhythm N’ Ruach was a great addition to the Shabbat morning program at Shaare Zedek congregation. Jeff and Shelley Dean have great energy and lots of passion for teaching families with young children about Shabbat and the Shabbat morning service. My three boys enjoyed playing with all the musical instruments and I had a lot of fun dancing and singing along with the guitar and drum circles.
Rabbi Brad Horwitz
As a Jewish educator myself, I have seen and witnessed several different Shabbat morning family services. Rhythm N’ Ruach stands out to me as being one of the best because of the way that Jeff and Shelley engage the children and parents alike, create a warm and welcoming atmosphere and lead joyful interactive style prayer. Regardless of your family’s knowledge or background, this promises to be a great way to celebrate Shabbat and introduce your children to a fun and meaningful Jewish experience . If you have not had the opportunity yet, I highly encourage you to try it out. You will not be disappointed.
Rabbi Brad Horwitz
For the past few years our family has had the pleasure of participating in the Rhythm ‘n’ Ruach program at Shaare Zedek with Jeff and Shelley Dean. This music program has enriched our Shabbat morning as well as our High Holiday service. The level of energy, Jewish knowledge and overall Ruach Shelley and Jeff bring translates into a meaningful worship for our family.
Our children are lucky to be part of Rhythm ‘n’ Ruach as students at Shaare Zedek Early Childhood Center. Under the fun leadership of Jeff and Shelley this program reiterates the Jewish prayers and songs and has become such an exciting part of their Jewish education.
Before Jeff and Shelley started their Rhythm ‘n’ Ruach program, our synagogue had no Shabbat programming (except rather unreliable babysitting) available for parents with small children. With Rhythm ‘n’ Ruach, Jeff and Shelley changed this paradigm and built a large community.
Jeff and Shelley have created a sing-and-play-along abbreviated service with familiar camp-style tunes and infectious enthusiasm; it reminded me a lot of the Music Together classes where I’d taken my children, only with a specifically Jewish slant.
I couldn’t keep my kids engaged in the traditional Shabbat services at our synagogue; Rhythm ‘n’ Ruach has offered me — and many other young parents — an opportunity to engage our children Jewishly on Saturday mornings.
The Rhythm ‘n’ Ruach service includes Hebrew vocabulary, several original songs, activities and instruments allowing older children to participate along with their younger siblings, and increasingly sophisticated programming for holidays. This experience appeals both to children of all ages and to parents like myself who appreciate the additional connections to a traditional Jewish service.
Rhythm ‘n’ Ruach allows me to teach my children about the structure of Shabbat tefillah without having to shush them for two hours straight or shrink down in my seat as they attempt to dance on the bimah.
I’ve seen the results when my children come home from pre-school. My four-year-old gets her own drum during Rhythm ‘n’ Ruach — and I’ve listened as she comes home every week with great questions about God and the parshah that grew out of Rhythm ‘n’ Ruach experiences. My two-year-old son is rocking “Bim Bam.”
Rhythm ‘n’ Ruach is also fun for parents and grandparents (even traditionalists like me
Professor Wendy Love Anderson
As a Jewish educator for over 18 years I’ve seen a wide variety of enrichment resources that compliment the classroom curriculum. Jeff and Shelley Dean offer a fantastic and unique program that engages the whole child. Not only do they use music to bring the Torah alive, Rhythm and Ruach provides active participation for the children through instruments, singing, and engaged listening to Shelley’s enthusiastic story telling. The children in my classroom always enjoy that Jeff and Shelley give them the freedom and support so that each individual child may find their own voice. As an educator I appreciate the passion that Jeff and Shelley bring to each class. Speaking personally, I feel that Jeff and Shelley’s Rhythm and Ruach class would enhance any Jewish education setting because they have passion, patience and plenty of RUACH!!!
Shaare Zedek Early Childhood Center
Our children always enjoy the music and energy you bring to Jewish events. We like to see them connect in such a fun and meaningful way to the day at hand – whether that is Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah or just a family gathering. We are so impressed at how you are able to engage all of our daughters (ages 7 ½, 6, and 4 years old) with your musical abilities. Thank you for getting them moving and singing! Also, we enjoy and appreciate how you weave your joy for Judaism into your presentation and music.
On a personal note, you engage so well with one another and with the children who are participating. You are aware of each of them and know when to pull a child into the mix and when to let them observe. That is often a difficult skill to master. Your Rhythm ‘N’ Ruach model would be so effective in building community if, in addition to the synagogue, it was used at different Jewish venues including schools, camps, festivals, etc.
Rob and Renee Wasserman
My children LOVE Rhythm ‘n’ Ruach to the point that we hired them for our son’s 4th birthday party. The love, energy, Jewish heritage and community that is experienced is unique and intimate. I can’t imagine Shabbat without it!
We LOVE this event! Kids from zero on up have a great time with the plethora of instruments they provide to play along to some of our favorite Shabbat songs!
I am the Family Center Coordinator at the JCC in St. Louis and am always on the lookout for quality performers for our families with children 0-5 years old. We have had Shelley and Jeff perform at several of our events and they are always professional, fun, engaging, sprited, age-appropriate, entertaining and educational- a great mix!
Whenever Rhythm ‘n’ Ruach comes, the children are mesmerized with Shelley and Jeff’s infectious energy, wonderful musical talents and participatory activities. There are many great performers around, but not a lot that incorporate Judaism the way that they do. As an employee of the J, it is importatnt to me to not only entertain the young children, but to provide some basic Jewish learning as well. Shelley and Jeff have found a way to do this in a fun, non-intimidating way.
Shelley and Jeff are masters at facilitating groups of all ages.
JCC Helene Mirowitz Family Center and Shalom Baby Coordinator
Our family has a fantastic time at Rhythm ‘n’ Ruach! Our first Rhythm ‘n’ Ruach experience was in a synagogue where we knew no one. The leaders, Shelley and Jeff, made us and everyone around us totally comfortable. My preschooler was singing, dancing, drumming and having a blast. My husband and I joined in on the fun as well. The entire program was age appropriate and filled with such energy and love. We’ll definitely be back!
Rachael Green Smith