The education programming that is in place for the youth of Congregation Shaarai Shomayim has a goal of educating and engaging the whole child. We are interested in teaching, learning, and interacting with our students through Jewish experiences that enrich them, while they form relationships within and among their classes, with their peers and with their mentors. We want to produce socially and environmentally conscious Reform Jewish individuals, who will go out into the world with the intent to make it a better place to live.
Our Religious School program meets on Sunday mornings from 9:15am to 12:00 noon. We serve children from ages 18 months to grade 12. Our Early Childhood program is a special one that meets once a month, and serves children from the ages 2 and 3 yearsold. This is a program in which parents are invited to attend along with their children, if they so choose. This often depends on the age of the child, and their individual level of comfort. The children are engaged Jewishly while having fun. They can be found doing art projects, digging in the “rice table”, looking at Jewish books, and doing cooking projects. We have a brand new PreK 4's program this year, which is intended for all of our four-year-old friends. Their curriculum is centered around "big books" during which they will learn about the Jewish holidays and Jewish values. They meet every Sunday morning, during which they can be found in circle time, painting, doing fun projects, visiting the library, or even playing outside!
Grades K-10 meet every week. We are completely staffed by congregants, which is a testament to the dedication of our families, and the level to which they care about Jewish education for our children. Our morning includes a bi-weekly music session with our music teacher, during which students learn about different genres of Jewish music related to the curriculum of each grade level, as well as learning traditional Jewish songs and prayers. Students also visit our congregational library, and are encouraged to borrow books to take home to enjoy. We hope that this helps to foster and grow Jewish libraries in their homes. Our older students are welcome and encouraged to check out books for personal reading and learning, as well as use the library for research and class work. Grades 3-5 enjoy an interactive Torah study session each week, which includes G-dcast portions and class discussions. Grades 6-8 enjoy Tanakh study each week, which includes readings, re-enactments, and in depth discussions. Every Sunday Religious School session ends with a brief family service, which is considered part of our morning of class time. Parents are strongly encouraged to attend and to sit and spend this time with their children.
Grades 9 & 10 meet each week, while grades 11-12 meet once a month. Grades 11 & 12 meet their class requirements in many different ways, including supervised social activities, Mitzvah projects, field trips, and classroom units of study. Confirmation is the culmination of our students’ Jewish education, and occurs at the end of the 12th grade year.
We are proud to share that may of our students choose to enrich their Religious School experiences by attending URJ’s Camp Harlam, by taking part in Junior Youth Group activities, and by becoming active members in our regional youth organization, NFTY/PAR, as well as spending time in Israel through NFTY and camp opportunities.
Our Hebrew School program meets on Wednesday afternoons from 4:30pm - 6pm, for grades 3-7. Students spend time learning letters and sounds, reading words and prayers, learning the meanings of those prayers and translating. It is our goal to produce Jewish young people who can not only read and understand Hebrew, but who can also approach the prayers and the service in a thoughtful and meaningful way.
It is our hope that we are helping to educate and mold our intelligent and inquisitive young Jewish people. We feel is our responsibility to help to perpetuate Jewish living and Jewish families, so if you have any questions, or need help figuring out how to observe a holiday, work in a new custom or song, have issues or concerns about anything that is happening in the classrooms, or anything else that may come up, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Holli Winick Viau