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About Our Program

Merkaz is the Hebrew word for "center," and for over forty years, Merkaz has truly been the place to be for Jewish teens throughout Fairfield County. Each week, students from numerous high schools and local congregations join together as one community to learn, socialize, explore and together strengthen their Jewish identity.

Merkaz offers exciting courses with something for everyone. Meet our amazing teachers, who are dedicated to providing classes that are fun and rewarding. Renew old friendships and make new ones. Explore our rich heritage and culture in the warm and inviting environment you'll experience at Merkaz

Our mission is to provide quality and meaningful Jewish education that is accessible to all community teens grades 8 through 12.
We have two locations to choose from
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Tuesdays, 7:00PM to 9:00PM
Bridgeport Area Campus
Mondays, 7:00PM to 9:00PM
Westport Area Campus
A Typical Merkaz Schedule:  First Period - Snack - Second Period

Sample Courses

  • Merkaz Mahjong
  • Choices on the College Campus
  • Jews in the News
  • Denial and The Holocaust
  • Jewish Humor
  • Superheroes
  • Judaism and the Environment
  • Outstanding Jewish Women
  • Jewish Cooking
  • Broadway and the Jews
  • Jewish Songs and Songwriters
  • Yoga, Meditation and Mindfulness
  • College Bound
  • Making Local Change
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At Merkaz...

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  • We explore our Jewish values & connect them to our daily lives
  • We create a bridge between the history of our people and the world today
  • We use the arts, STEM & texts as a springboard to understanding our Judaism
  • We partner with the community to do Tikkun Olam (repair the world)
  • We become confident Jewish adults that our Bubbe would be proud to know
  • We foster future Jewish leaders

Meet Our Staff

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Seth Marion
Head of School
SMarion@JewishPhilanthropyCT.org
203-659-3597

Seth has been working with Jewish Youth in a variety of settings for 20 years. Seth received his Bachelors from SUNY New Paltz and his Masters from Boston University, both in Technical Production for the theatre. After working professionally in the theatre both in Boston and New York for a few years, Seth officially made a move into informal Jewish education and engagement. After beginning his work at Larchmont Temple in NY, Seth completed the Certificate in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults program at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion which solidified his love of educating and caring for future Jewish adults.
 
Seth’s love for Judaism stems from a lifetime of Jewish practice and learning with his family, friends, and colleagues. His desire to work with Jewish youth began at the URJ Eisner Camp where he worked for nine summers. While there he played a vital role in shaping the waterfront, logistics systems, and running camp wide events. In 2014 Seth was invited to join the summer team at the new URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy as the Director of Logistics and Engineering, bringing together Judaism and science in new and creative ways. 
 
Seth began working for the Jewish community full-time in 2013 at Larchmont Temple in Larchmont, NY. Here, he was able to pursue his love of working with Jewish youth by leading the congregation’s teen population in both formal and informal settings. Seth continued to pursue his career in youth work at Temple Oheb Shalom in Baltimore, MD where he had the opportunity to create a post-b’nei mitzvah learning program for the congregation’s teens.
 
Seth has made a commitment to lifelong learning which he models for his learners by taking part in a variety of professional development opportunities throughout the years. Seth currently enjoys his participation in the Experiential Jewish Education (EJE) Network and the Jewish Educators Connection through our Federation. Seth currently lives in Trumbull, CT with his wife Rabbi Sarah Marion and their two beautiful children.
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Sara Beitman
Program Manager
SBeitman@JewishPhilanthropyCT.org
203-659-3604

An Easton native and 2006 Merkaz graduate, Sara is excited to bring a new perspective to the program as an adult returning to her childhood community.

"I always loved Merkaz because it allowed me to find meaningful ways to connect to Judaism based on courses and topics that interested me. Merkaz strengthened my Jewish identity and kept me connected to the Jewish community through high school, and helped prepare me for Jewish life in college and beyond. Besides getting to meet Jewish kids from other towns and synagogues, I took really cool classes, from Jewish cooking to Important Women in Jewish History." 

Sara received her Bachelors from Muhlenberg College and her Masters from New York University, studying marketing, communications and management.

Sara worked as a digital marketing project manager in New York City for ten years at a Fortune 100 insurance company, managing the planning and execution of large scale projects. During that time, Sara also ran  employee engagement, team building and community service events for her department, and was an active volunteer with JCC Manhattan's 20s and 30s group. 

Sara's last big project was managing a $50M fund that awarded grants to the families of health care workers who died fighting COVID-19. When that project ended, Sara realized that she didn't want to stop working on projects that help people. At that point, she decided to find a job at a Jewish non-profit in her community.

Sara joined the Federation team in 2022 and lives in Westport with her husband and adorable daughter. 

"Sara epitomizes what I often talk about as the goal of Merkaz - educating the future leaders of the Jewish community. Here she is returning to the Jewish community where she grew up. Sara was destined to be a Jewish leader, not tomorrow but today. - Margery Verlezza, former Merkaz Program Manager. 

Our Partners

Merkaz Community High School for Judaic Studies | 4200 Park Avenue, Suite 300 Bridgeport, CT 06604 | 203-659-3604 | Merkaz@JewishPhilanthropyCT.org