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Educating each child

01/08/2015 01:04:14 PM

Jan8

One of my favorite parts of the fall is immersing myself in the wonderful stories of B’reishit, the book of Genesis.  Our ancestors traveled deeply personal Jewish paths, each one encountering God in unique ways.   Abraham, experiencing God’s call, used his courage and faith to travel an unknown path. Rebecca helped push God’s plan along by coaching Jacob in cunning and self-promotion.  Jacob, a spiritual man, dreamed of the angels to awake with a new and passionate awareness of God’s presence.  In the Tefilah we recite “God of Abraham, God  of Isaac…God of Rachel…” emphasizing how our ancestors related to God in completely unique ways.  Judaism has never been a one-size-fits-all experience. 

Nowhere can we see this principle more clearly than in the Religious School.  Each child who enters our building is beautifully unique, blessed with gifts and talents, but also encumbered by challenges.  Our goal is to create deep, meaningful and enduring Jewish learning for all of our students by creating a learning environment where students can be themselves while having their individual needs met.

This means getting to know them as people.  Our teachers strive to build personal connections with our students through class discussion, conversations about outside interests, and informal educational experiences.  Our teen madrichim build relationships with younger students to reach children where they are.

In designing our program, we consider the needs of all types of learners by balancing different modalities of learning — reading, writing, discussion, cooking, music, etc.   As our students progress to the upper grades, they are empowered to choose their own classes, creating their own personalized Jewish learning. 

We are engaged in ongoing development of our programming for students with special needs.  Our Coordinator of Special Needs Programming works with staff and parents to create Individualized Religious Education Plans for these students.  We follow up on these plans weekly.   Supported Hebrew Learning classes are available at all levels.   This year, we have partnered with Matan — a national organization that works with Jewish schools to create rich, educational offerings for children with special needs.

Each of our children, like each of our ancestors, is capable of having powerful Jewish experiences and of connecting with God -- a beautiful reflection of the individual child.

Cantor Jamie Tortorello-Allen

Sun, September 26 2021 20 Tishrei 5782