Dear Religious School Families,
Hello! I hope you have found some rest and relaxation this summer. I’m excited to introduce you to my colleague, Rabbi Beth Nichols. Rabbi Nichols is Temple’s new Director of Lifelong Jewish Learning. I want to acknowledge the strangeness of sending an email introduction like this. Unfortunately, due to pandemic, our plans for in-person meetings and gatherings have had to be altered.
Rabbi Nichols is eager to share with you the key elements of Temple’s plan for Religious School, designed to ensure that we can have a meaningful year focused on community building and learning, while also protecting our health and safety. In addition to the information found in this email, you can learn more about the year ahead by watching this video and by joining Rabbi Nichols and me on Thursday, August 6 at 7:30pm for a Religious School Parent Information Session. We will record the meeting for parents who are not able to join.
Join by Zoom (Video) or by Phone: (929) 205-6099; Meeting ID: 824 3809 3509
There are four principles that we are using to design this year:
1. We are in a new and unique time that requires us to reassess our standard goals and priorities. We are committed to being flexible and adaptable, knowing that our learning may look very different.
2. The pandemic has affected everyone’s social and emotional needs, especially our kids. Over millennia our Jewish tradition has developed a vocabulary and powerful ideas that can help all of us through difficult times.
3. Every family is working through how this academic year is going to look, balancing school, work, health and wellbeing, and a myriad of other concerns and responsibilities. We understand that people will be able to participate in ways that are right for them and are planning with that in mind.
4. When it can be provided safely, in-person learning is a top priority. Online learning is difficult, but possible. We know that online learning needs to be planned differently than in-person learning.
- Small classes meet with teachers every two weeks
- Classes meet in person or on-line depending on the pandemic
- On alternate weeks, services and song session with Clergy and Ms. Patty
On Sunday morning, for Kindergarten through 6th graders, we are planning two scenarios: completely on-line and a hybrid of on-line and in-person learning. We have designed them so we can smoothly move back and forth between the scenarios depending on the course of the pandemic and the advice of our team of medical professionals.
Every teacher will have two classes, Aleph and Bet, allowing us to have a smaller number of students in the classroom and making it easier for adults and children to get to know one another. Each class will meet with their teacher every other Sunday. When it is safe and our building is open, those meetings will take place at Temple Beth El in our classrooms from 9-11am, following all appropriate safety protocols like wearing masks and physical distancing. When we can’t be in person, teachers will hold classes on Zoom from 9-10:30am, still meeting with each group every two weeks.
On the Sunday mornings that groups are not meeting with their teacher, they will join together as a big group on Zoom for T’fillah and Shira – services and song session, led by a member of our clergy team and Ms. Patty from 9:30-10:15am. There will also be an optional family activity introduced during the morning and available for families online.
On Sundays, we are also implementing a school-wide curriculum called La’bri-ut: To Our Health and Wellness. This curriculum is being developed by Jewish education experts to respond to everything we have been experiencing during the pandemic. Every week, we will dedicate some of our time together to introducing Jewish tools for taking care of ourselves and each other. Classes will have age-appropriate discussions with their teachers, the clergy will share stories during services, and we will post resources for families who want to continue the conversations at home.
Mid-Week Hebrew Study
- Small group learning with 4-6 kids
- 45-minute sessions with a teacher on Tuesdays or Wednesdays
- On-line all year
This year, 3rd-6th graders will study Hebrew in small groups of only 4-6 kids with a teacher. Hebrew groups will meet on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for 45 minutes on Zoom. Families will receive all the materials students need to learn at home. These small groups will create more focused and individual attention, to help everyone feel more confident in their Hebrew reading. We believe we can accomplish more with less time and fewer students. We also want to make it easier for parents by eliminating mid-week driving back-and-forth.
Now that we have established a structure for the year, we will continue to work through all of the details necessary to make for safe, fun and meaningful time together. Before the opening day of Religious School on Sunday, October 4, we will keep refining our plans and be in touch with you to share details. Please email Rabbi Nichols with any questions or concerns.
We will send out communication on Friday with the link to the Zoom recording and information about Parent Meet and Greets and Grade Level Hangouts with Rabbi Nichols.
Thank you for partnering with us to create positive Jewish learning experiences for your children.
Rabbi Knight and Rabbi Nichols