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Religious School

Religious School in 2021-2022 

Our goal, in everything we do, is to help our students become fulfilled and engaged Jewish individuals, who will incorporate Judaism into their lives, both now and in the future. We strive to help students connect their whole selves to the life-long experience of living meaningful Jewish lives.

Religious school at its core, is about having Jewish experiences with Jewish people. We learn, we pray, we celebrate, and we connect. We explore how Judaism can help make us better people--better friends, better siblings, better members of our communities.

We concentrate on the following learning experiences:

Hebrew 

Hebrew is about connecting to the Jewish people and connecting to prayer. Jews all over the world pray in Hebrew! Our early childhood Hebrew curriculum focuses on Hebrew as a living language. Our 2nd -6th grade curriculum focuses on decoding and prayerbook Hebrew, enabling our students to participate comfortably in prayer here and elsewhere. In seventh grade, Hebrew is taught through individualized tutoring with our clergy during the b’nei mitzvah year.

Holidays  

For many of us, holidays are our favorite part of being Jewish. Holidays connect us to one another and to our heritage. And holidays are yummy! Children have holiday classes every single week, delving deeply into the rituals and meaning of our yearly holiday cycles. We culminate our learning with authentic and joyful celebrations of our holidays.

Torah Time

Torah is at the root of all of Jewish life. It is the etz chayim--the tree of life. Learning Torah is one of the central pursuits of our time at Religious School. We have an active, hands on approach to learning Torah, based in drama, art, music, puppetry, cooking, story telling, and discussions. We seek not only to teach the stories, but to help students understand how our values, behaviors and Jewish life can be shaped by our understanding of Torah.

Lech Lecha

Lech lecha--God’s command to Abraham to set forth on a literal and spiritual journey, is the name of our 6th-8th grade b’nei mitzvah program. Our sixth grade students engage in the study of text and values. Through these years, they develop more deeply the ideas to which they were introduced in earlier grades.  They begin to build an understanding of what it means to live as a Jewish young adult.

Tefilah

At the heart of Judaism is the covenantal relationship between God and the Jewish people.  Without this encounter, there is no Judaism.  In tefilah, we engage in weekly prayer--attempting to draw closer to God’s presence through our communal worship.

COVID protocols

  • Everybody in the building must wear a mask at all times.
  • We will maintain social distancing that meets or exceeds the minimum distance required by our local schools.
  • Please do not sent sick children to school. We need to be extra cautious this year and will be separating and sending home any child who is symptomatic.
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Mission Statement and School Philosophy

At Temple Beth Am Religious School, students will develop a strong and meaningful Jewish identity that will give them a foundation for their adult Jewish lives.  They will develop a connection to K’lal Yisrael—the Jewish community--in their families, in the temple, in the United States, in Israel, and wherever Jews live.

The faculty of the school, the school committee, the rabbi, the cantor and the parents will work in partnership to create a positive educational experience that will foster this development.

We recognize that Jewish identity is only strong and meaningful when it is grounded in Jewish knowledge and values. 

Pirkei Avot teaches that the world stands on three things—Torah, Worship and Acts of Loving Kindness.  The religious school strives to help students develop a sense of Jewish selfhood that also rests on these three core values.

Torah encompasses all of the knowledge and learning of our Jewish tradition.  We strive to help students to find meaning in their own lives through their study of sacred texts, our history, and the teachings of our sages.

Worship encompasses our encounter with God—our individual experience of the Divine, our communal prayer, and the covenantal relationship between God and the Jewish people.  At the religious school, students will acquire the tools necessary for communal Jewish prayer—Hebrew language, liturgy and music.  They will have the opportunity to develop a gradually maturing understanding of God and the Sacred, and of the relationship between God and the Jewish people.  The Religious School community itself serves as a sacred community, where students, teachers, clergy and parents engage in communal worship and strive to become aware of God’s presence in our midst.

Gemilut Chasadim, acts of loving kindness, encompasses all of our efforts to bring our Jewish values to our everyday life.  Students will study the concept of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, and will have ongoing opportunities to engage in Tikkun Olam and acts of kindness, as individuals and as a school community.  Students will develop an understanding of the mitzvot, the commandments, and will strive to live the values that the Torah imparts to us.


from the director of education

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


 

Wed, October 27 2021 21 Cheshvan 5782