The past two months has been wild and crazy! Programs galore, holidays, new curricula, sorting out children and teachers, mixed in with welcoming and blending our new families from Beth Shalom, has been an exciting challenge for all of us.
Last Sunday, I finally found some time to wander around and observe our Religious School program in action on a “normal” day. I’m so happy to report that our students are settled in their classroom routines and there’s a whole lot of learning going on! I was delighted to begin my day with our Kindergarteners as they enthusiastically chanted their morning Hebrew prayers together. Later on, they had such a good time making dreidels (out of clay, of course). Some of our kids were enjoying a brand-new parashah movie in the computer lab, while another class studied the phases of the moon as they began a chapter on Rosh Chodesh. I spent some time in the library cheering on our 3rd graders as they played a fun game with their Hebrew letters, proudly showing off their knowledge for me! We had two classes experiencing havdallah in the courtyard together, and 4th graders had a great discussion as they watched a video on the smartboard about IDF (Israeli Defense Force) training. Most of our middle-schoolers were involved in the awesome Kadima sub-regional convention (held here at the JJC); all of them began their day dancing and clapping to the tunes of Shacharit LIVE! with Hazzan Holzer’s band, Koltrain. I spent some time with two of our new 7th graders discussing Bat Mitzvah plans, and ended the morning with a demonstration of newly-learned trop and prayer skills. Wow! It was a thrill to witness the obvious progress that our children are making. (Check out the video that I made – it can be found on the home page of this site. Most of this was taken this past Sunday!)
Yesterday, I was emailed some information about a “cyber” Hebrew School program. This is something brought to my attention every few months, either by another teacher, a parent, or a colleague. Although I am a huge fan of long-distance learning (and spent this past summer learning via weekly webinars), I am saddened at the thought of losing the personal touch and community that our schools provide. We are about so much more than facts and words. We learn through taste, smell, sound, and touch. My teachers provide information – and hugs as needed. Classmates become best friends and allies for a lifetime. Our programs allow families to experience our beautiful and rich culture together. Our synagogue provides us with a spiritual home and safe haven.
This Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for my hardworking, dedicated teachers; for our caring clergy; but I am especially thankful for the happy, busy hubbub of our school on Sundays and Wednesdays!