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 sessions are filled with lively discussions, creative projects and engaging activities.
Each year, the Religious School has a theme that guides our approach to strengthening our children’s understanding of Judaism as a tool for living. We are acutely aware that what we are all experiencing right now is anything but normal, and it is at a time like this, that adaptability, change and resilience all come into play. While it would have been easier to have our teachers simply teach the curriculum that had already been written for this coming year, we decided that our students and parents deserve more. Therefore, this year, we are writing a curriculum for the whole school based on the same theme, “Be a Light” inspired by a song I heard with this title by Thomas Rhett. The lyrics can be found here. It’s about bringing light into dark times and spreading hope. The title of the song also reminded me of a favorite Jewish text referred to as “The Lamplighter”:
Our content units will address the following topics:
Kindling Your Inner Light: Shmirat HaGuf—guarding your mind, body and soul (mental health and wellness)
Who Kindles Your Light: Hakarat HaTov—recognizing the good (gratitude)
Spreading Light: Chesed—compassion (kindness)
Igniting Others: Tikkun Olam—repairing the world (social justice and current issues such as the impact of COVID-19, racial justice and antisemitism)
Our whole school curriculum will enable our children and teens to see that Jewish wisdom and rituals can help them understand and grapple with the world in which we live. As a community, we are uniquely positioned to respond to this moment as we’ve been moving toward a new educational philosophy that is more responsive to our children and families. We’re changing our focus from imparting Jewish skills and concepts to enabling our children to apply these skills and concepts to help them address both their everyday challenges and those unique to this time. Through this new approach our students will be able to experience and wonder about the world around them that is filled with so much uncertainty from a place of safety and security within our community.
After spending our Spring and Summer researching and speaking with experts in the fields of educational technology, doctors, psychologists and Jewish educators, we’ve designed learning that will speak to what our students are encountering now and is organized in a way that responds to what they have to say. Throughout the year, we will continue to develop the curriculum based upon their ideas thus making them feel seen, heard and valued.
As we know that at least part of the year will be online, we’ve taken our gleanings from this past Spring to help us create a dynamic, connective, and fun curriculum with engaging lessons utilizing educational tech programs that support interactive experiential learning, guest speakers and artists, community building exercises, small group projects, brain breaks, movement breaks, mindfulness moments and more. We will also find ways to keep students and families connected and excited about our program through at-home mystery boxes and pop up in-person events when we can ensure everyone’s safety and provide a stellar experience.
A cornerstone to our curriculum is a Kindness & Wellness Campaign.
To increase kindness in the Religious School, in the CRS community, and in the larger community, we model what kindness looks like. 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 are integrated into each grade’s curriculum, into Tefillah (prayer services) and classrooms through mindfulness moments.
In a time when we might feel hopeless, we 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 hope that you will feel free to contact us and visit our community to learn more.
Director, Religious Education and Youth