We welcome you to our congregation and your children to our Religious School. We pride ourselves on being a community where everyone learns and where everyone has a chance to have fun. We want our students of all ages and abilities to feel that B’nai Israel is a safe place, where they are free to explore what being Jewish will mean to them.
We have many goals but they can all be distilled to three ideas:
We ask for parents’ active participation in our school — as an adult learner, as a fellow worshiper and as someone building a stronger congregation — engaged in repairing the world. We each may find a different piece of that puzzle to embrace, and we ask you to let us help you find yours!
Right Now! Jewish identity is something that is developed, not something that is slipped over your head like a T-shirt. All of the research tells us that the earlier a child is introduced to Jewish education, the more likely he or she is to take on the values and to feel a sense of connection. We urge families to begin their child’s journey through Jewish learning in Gan (Kindergarten), but will welcome them at any point along the way.
When Do We Meet?
Shorashim is our Gan – Kitah Gimel (K – 3rd grade) program. The word means roots and that is what we develop here! Shorashim classes meet Sunday mornings from 9:30 a.m. –12:00 p.m.
Etgar Rishon is our Kitot Daled – Vav (4th – 6th grade) program. These students are using Jewish learning and values as they begin to face the challenge of this stage in their lives. (Etgar Rishon means “first challenge.”) They meet on Sundays from 9:30 – 12:00 p.m. and Thursday afternoons from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Etgar Sheini is our Kitot Zayin and Chet (7th & 8th grade) program and it meets on Monday evenings from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Merkaz, the Community High School for Jewish Studies, serves Kitot Tet – Yud Bet (9th – 12th grade). These teens are joined at B’nai Israel by teens from other congregations in the community. Merkaz meets Tuesday evenings from 6:50 – 8:50 p.m. Sophomores from B’nai Israel are enrolled automatically in the Confirmation class taught by Rabbi Prosnit and Ira Wise at Merkaz.
Who Teaches Our Children?
Our Morim (teachers) are warm, loving and professional. Nearly all of them are members of our congregation and have (or have had) children of their own in our school. They are professional in their approach to Jewish learning because they care deeply about sharing their love of Jewish living and their connection to Congregation B’nai Israel and the Jewish people. They bring not only their long personal commitment to our Jewish community but a vast array of skills and talents.
In our classroom, our Morim create a positive learning environment that is both engaging and enjoyable. Outside of the classroom, our Morim regularly attend workshops and conferences that enhance their skills to help our students create personal meaning of their Jewish heritage within their daily lives and the world outside.
What about Learners with Special Needs?
At B’nai Israel we understand that learners have many different styles and needs. We believe that there are many ways to be smart. Sitting and learning quietly is just one of those ways, and we do not want to limit ourselves to just one. We are committed to meeting the needs of all learners. Please visit our Special Needs page for more information.
What Will Our Children Learn?
Our curriculum is based on research and childhood learning theories, incorporates learning about Israel and includes enrichment programs. We take a holistic approach to learning and experiential learning is one of the many tools we use. Our learning goals are divided into two categories: Da’at u’Ma’asim: Knowledge and Action and Haragashah v’Kesher: Feeling and Connection.
The knowledge and action goals include what the students will know, understand and do when the learning process is successful. To accomplish this, we use what are called subject spirals and areas of focus.
The feeling and connection goals result in the feelings the students develop about themselves, being Jewish and how they connect to God and the Jewish people. These goals are divided into three categories:
For a copy of the detailed grade by grade curriculum goals please see the Curriculum link under resources.
Additionally, feel free to email our Director of Education, Ira Wise, or call him at (203) 336-1858.