Congregation B'nai Israel

2710 Park Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604 | (203) 336-1858 | |

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Religious School

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 want every learner to develop into a Jewishly literate adult.
  • We want every member of B’nai Israel of every age to see themselves as lifelong learners, on a Jewish journey with the rest of us.
  • We seek to build relationships—among children AND among adults—because we believe that community comes from strong relationships.

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!

When Should I Enroll My Children?

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?

Our Gan Kitah Gimel (K – 3rd grade) learners meet Sunday mornings from 9:30 a.m. –12:00 p.m.

Our Kitot Daled – Vav (4th – 6th grade) learners meet on Sundays from 9:30 – 12:00 p.m. and Thursday afternoons from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Our Kitot Zayin and Chet (7th & 8th grade) learners meet on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Merkaz, the Community High School for Jewish Studies, serves Kitot TetYud 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 Schultz.

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.

  • Subject spirals — There are twelve major subject spirals and each is revisited several times and in different ways throughout the student’s time in our school. Each time a subject spiral is revisited students discover new facets of their Jewish identity. Some of the spirals are Am Yisrael (the Jewish people), God, History, Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), Ivrit (Hebrew) and Torah.
  • Focus areas – Focus areas (e.g. the lifecycle from birth to death, an imaginary trip to Israel) provide students different ways to learn and experience the subject spiral.

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:

  • Affect – Emotional connections made by a successful student.
  • Classroom strategies – Utilizing multiple intelligences and different modalities.
  • Family connection to learning – Parent involvement in key learning activities and reinforcement of them at home.

For a copy of the detailed grade by grade curriculum goals please click here.
Our Vision Team’s Curriculum Working Group has been and continues to meet to review and revise the curriculum.
If you are interested in joining this effort, please contact our Director of Education, Ira Wise.

How Will Our Children learn?

Our faculty has been learning and working over the past five years to shift how pedagogy happens. There are two approaches worth mentioning as we have invested a great deal of time and effort into them.

  • Experiential Education is defined by the deliberate infusion of Jewish values into engaging and memorable experiences that impact the formation of Jewish identity. These values consist of ideas and convictions that represent world views about worth and significance, and whose adoption can guide personal choices, behaviors and practices. We strive to make the learning experience more concrete and hands on, rather than abstract and lots of listening and reading. We believe that the more immersive the experience, the learning can be deeper and longer lasting. Ira Wise, our Director of Education is a fellow with the Institute for Experiential Jewish Education and bringing those ideas and skills to our faculty.
  • Social, Emotional and Spiritual Learning (SESL) “Social Emotional Learning is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” (CASEL)  Adding Spiritual Learning to the mix responds to our need to help learners develop social relationships that are embedded with Jewish values. We seek to create Jewish learning that nurtures the soul, honors spiritual curiosity and is relevant to their lives. (Kress)

Our Vision Team’s Pedagogy Working Group has been and continues to work with our teachers to develop and refine how we teach.
If you are interested in joining this effort, please contact our Director of Education, Ira Wise.

Additionally, feel free to email our Director of Education, Ira Wise, or call him at (203) 335-5058.