A Jewish education is one of the most precious gifts you will give your child. From Judaism they will gain faith to sustain them in times of trouble and they will find a community in which to celebrate life’s successes. Judaism will add meaning and depth to their lives and root their actions in values.
The Religious School at Congregation Rodeph Sholom can help you give this great gift to your child. Students in our school build close relationships with gifted teachers, who act as mentors and role models. Our classroom time is filled with lively discussions, creative projects and engaging activities.
We continuously explore ways in which our students can be more engaged and active in finding their own path to learning. Through project based learning (PBL), we empower and allow our students to use a combination of 21st century skills (teamwork, problem solving, research gathering, time management, information synthesizing, utilizing high tech tools) to explore, learn and experience their rich Jewish heritage.
If you ask me what the main goal is of our Religious School, you might expect to hear, so that children can learn about their heritage and develop a strong Jewish identity. While this is certainly true, in days of late it would not be the first thing I would say. First and foremost, we need to make sure that we are preparing our children and teens to succeed amidst the world within which they are growing. They need to be healthy and happy and know how to navigate this world before they can form their personal identity and recognize their purpose. They will learn that Judaism has much to say about all of this.
These are challenging times. Our children and teens are growing up in a world where they feel more tension personally and globally than any of us have experienced in a long time. They have the added pressure of living life with social media; a constant lens to the larger world, causing them to have to process information that comes in and deciding what they need to put out. The same social media that gives them access to increased knowledge and the larger world also cause a lack of interpersonal skills and recognition of boundaries; it can even lead to cyberbullying. In a day and age when words harm so deeply, when there is so much conflict and discontent, starting with our own language and actions, making sure we are kind is the only way we are going to effectuate change.
Jewish tradition has much to say about kindness. In fact, kindness, or chesed, is mentioned 245 times in the Bible and we even learn that when God went to create Adam and the angels argued as to whether or not God should create people, the angels answered, “Let him be created because he will dispense acts of lovingkindness.” (Genesis Rabbah 8:5) We learn from this midrash that we owe our very existence to the fact that we should be kind.
This year in Religious School, we are launching a Kindness & Wellness Campaign. This goal to increase kindness in the Religious School, in the CRS community, and in the larger community starts with each of us as individuals. First, we need to build the kindest community and model for each other what kindness looks like. We’ll do this in a variety of ways. We’ve created a Brit Kehilah, a Community Covenant that students and parents will sign and uphold. Lessons about kindness, self-care, mental health, and wellness will be integrated into each grade’s curriculum, into Tefillah (prayer services) and classrooms through mindfulness moments, through a print campaign of kindness quotes and posters around the school, through our continuing teen/parent mental health series, and through a number of other ways. Our hope is that our children will internalize Jewish values and recognize their role in making this world a better place in order to cultivate a culture of kindness.
In a time when we might feel hopeless, we will respond with kindness. Our tradition mandates this and we will heed the call to, “Do justice, love chesed (kindness), and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
We are looking forward to another exciting year in Religious School and wish you Shanah Tovah, a year full of blessings, renewal of faith, spirit and soul.