We are a joint enterprise of three conservative synagogues in Hampton Roads: Congregation Beth El (Norfolk), Temple Israel (Norfolk) and Kehilat Beit Ha-midrash (Virginia Beach). Our primary goal is to prepare the young generation to carry on Judaism in the 21st century. We have a two-fold educational program.
Beit Sefer Shalom is a religious school for children from 3 years old through 7th grade, which meets for three-hour weekly sessions (Sundays, 9 am-12 pm). United Hebrew School 2.0 compliments it with a midweek individual tutoring program focused on liturgical Hebrew. Our teachers are highly knowledgeable and dedicated community members, some of them are professional educators, others are lawyers, bankers, military officers, social workers, medical doctors and more. Additionally, an enthusiastic team of teenage assistants provides our students with role models of how to grow as young Americans Jews.
Supported by the Institute for Southern Jewish Life, our curriculum combines hands-on experiential learning with textual study of Torah, prayers, blessings, holidays and Jewish lifecycle. We take special pride in grounding Jewish history in everyday practice of Judaism through rituals, mitzvoth and social action — Tikkun Olam. Inclusion of children with many different needs and learning styles is one of our foremost priorities.
We have created a nurturing environment in which children learn in real life the foundational rule of Judaism as formulated by Rabbi Akiva: “Ve- ahavta le-reacha kamocha, You shall love your fellow as yourself.”
This year, Beit Sefer Shalom launched an innovative and ambitious enterprise. We are building the only supplementary religious school in the world which uses Montessori pedagogy for the study of Judaism and Hebrew. Initially we have begun with two age levels: a Children’s House (3 years old through Kindergarten) and a Lower Elementary (1st through 3rd grades). Over the next few years, we will expand to upper elementary, middle school, and even to high school levels. We are deeply honored to commemorate Patricia Ashkenazi with this program. Patricia was the late wife of Beth El Trustee, Avraham Ashkenazi, whose generous support has allowed this vision to come to life.
We invite you to watch this video and stay tuned to learn more about the wonderful innovations coming from “Chaye Sarah (Sarah’s Life/Sarah’s Descendants) – A Montessori-Based Jewish Educational Program in Memory of Patricia Sarah Ashkenazi”.