Here at Beth El, there aren’t going to be very many lazy, hazy days by the seashore this summer. In place of generalized relaxing, there will be a whole lot of excited craziness over the next three months. The Shalom Learning curriculum is coming and our teaching staff has much to accomplish before the official first day of class on September 11th (2016).
With this new approach will come a new name: Beit Sefer Shalom—UHS 2.0, serving the children of members of Congregation Beth El as well as KBH and Temple Israel. In addition to merging the student populations, the teaching staff will be a veritable “Dream Team of Jewish Educators” offering our young people the best of all possible learning experiences. Even better is that in addition to Congregation Beth El clergy Rabbi Arnowitz and Cantor Wendi, Beit Sefer Shalom students will have an opportunity to benefit from Temple Israel’s Rabbi Michael Panitz as well as Cantor David Prosor of KBH.
The Sunday morning schedule will be packed with positive learning experiences and include a Z’man Ivrit; Hebrew Time for all grade levels. Our youngest students will be able to explore the Alef-Bet through a variety of mediums including yoga. Older students who have successfully mastered the tefillot presented by the Torah Aura curriculum will be able to take on additional challenges including Hallel or even delve into conversational Hebrew if they choose.
Judaica will focus on seven core values: Teshuva (taking responsibility for your actions), B’Tzelem Elohim (honoring the image of God in ourselves), Gevurah (using one’s inner and outer strength), Achrayut (doing what you can to leave the world a better place), HaKarat HaTov (seeking joy and being grateful), Koach HaDibbur (understanding the power of words), and Shalom (helping to create a calmer, more peaceful world). Each grade level will approach the value being explored in a particular way so there will not be repetition from one year to the next.
The method of presentation will be reflective of the secular learning world in which our students now dwell. Thus, discussion will have been triggered by a video clip or special reading. Does this mean the kids will be glued to their electronic devices an additional three hours on a Sunday morning? Absolutely not! A video can be a powerful initiator of learning through conversation and that is the plan.
New is fun but what will remain familiar?
I (Mrs. “W”) will continue to welcome students as they arrive on Sunday mornings and wish them a good week as they depart at the end of each session. Additionally, I will continue the practice of popping into each classroom every week not only to say Boker Tov (good morning) and talk about the parshat hashavuah (Torah portion of the week) but ready, willing, and almost always able to answer questions students have on their mind. When I am stumped, one of the rabbis or cantors will be called upon to help. There will be tefillah-on-the-bima and art and music and special activities during the course of the school year.
So how and when will the parents learn about all the “ins and outs” of this new exciting new program? Our opening session on Sunday, the 11th of September will begin with a community bagel breakfast, and when the students are sent off to their classrooms to learn with their teacher, the adults will remain to learn about the curriculum. Might we have a pre-September 11th gathering? Most definitely, and everyone will be kept in the information loop and invited to that meeting.
In the meantime, should you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me and arrange a time for us to sit and chat.
It’s going to be an awesome year!
Sharon Wasserberg, MAED, CJE
Director of Education
Beit Sefer Shalom—UHS 2.0