Happy 5781 school year! This is the first year under our brand new name, The Patricia Sarah Ashkenazi Religious School. We will celebrate it with an official unveiling when we are allowed to return to our building.
This is a difficult time in the world. Protecting our health, making financial ends meet and providing some sense of normalcy to our children take much of our efforts. However, particularly in this time, the millenia-old perspective of Judaism provides us with much power. We are connected to a source of energy rich with concepts and practices about how to deal with all tides of life, both high and low. Guiding our next generation of Jews to cultivate this connection is so crucial to helping them pass successfully not only the current tide, but all the future to come during their lifetime. Regardless of the logistical difficulties, our school teachers, Hebrew tutors, teen aids as well as the clergy of the partnering synagogues are committed to this goal.
Let me start with some good news about the coming school year. Last year we launched our Montessori-based program, Chaye Sarah, for the younger students. We opened a Children House class for 3 years old – K students as well as a Lower Elementary class for 1st – 3rd graders. As I wrote in the previous bulletin, this year we are expanding the program to the upper grades. Rita Yashaev and Amy Yashaev will co-teach an Upper Elementary class for 4th and 5th grade students. Barbra Glass-Rossen and Bill Nossen will teach a Pre-Bar/Bat Mitzvah class for 6th and 7th graders.
Having a well trained faculty is so essential to the high pedagogical standards of Chaye Sarah. Both Morah Rita and Morah Barbara take part in the Jewish Montessori training program of Yeshivat Netivot Montessori (East Brunswick, NJ) – the leading school in the worldwide Jewish Montessori movement. This is an online adaptation of the training course that Morah Marnie and Morah Hila took last summer. The training goes beyond student instruction. Once we are allowed to come back to face-to-face sessions, our faculty will continue the process of developing the physical structure of our Montessori-based classrooms. I should mention that the tuition for the training as well as the development of physical classrooms are funded by a special endowment that Mr. Avraham Ashkenazi created for the startup of Chaye Sarah.
We are also expanding the length of our midweek Hebrew tutoring program (United Hebrew School 2.0). Sessions for 3rd – 6th grade students will be 45 minutes instead of 30 minutes. Adding 15 minutes allows us to raise the bar for our students. They will be expected to attain up to three levels of mastery. The first is being able to read the Hebrew. The second is being able to chant it. The third is being able to understand the meaning of the words. Indeed, not all students will need to master all the three levels. However, longer sessions open the opportunity for that to happen.
Lastly, despite the rising of costs of such an educationally rich program, the partnering synagogues have decided not to raise the tuition for the coming year. It will remain $250 for the religious school (Chaye Sarah) and $350 for the midweek Hebrew tutoring (UHS 2.0). It is important to note that the heavy subsidy that is required to freeze the tuition reflects the extremely high priority given to Jewish education, particularly in this trying period. We are deeply grateful to Congregations Beth El and Temple Israel, Mr. Avraham Ashlenazi and the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater for their generous financial support.
On a less happy note, the safety of our children, faculty and staff requires us to start the year over Zoom. We earned quite a lot of experience from holding such classes last Spring. Building on this experience, our teachers are utilizing the online medium to create highly engaging and enriching classes. Once we are permitted, face-to-face sessions will resume at Beth El’s educational wing. Below you will find links to registration forms, calendars, recordings, class websites, t’fillah checklists, and Hebrew program booklets.
May the good news about 5781 school year alleviate a bit the hardships of coping with distant learning. And may our beloved heritage remind us that as Jews we are empowered with an exceptional strength and resilience.
Dr. Eran Livni
The Patricia Sarah Ashkenazi Religious School
Head of School
Hebrew Program Resources
Located below are the checklists with which we communicate between tutors, parents and clergy for you to download/print.