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Religious SchoolPrograms

Our Philosophy

While each grade has its own discrete curriculum so that students gain new knowledge and have new experiences each year, there are several themes woven throughout the grades. Students explore these themes in hands-on ways each year to build their Jewish identity, instill a sense of pride, and help make Judaism meaningful and relevant. See below for each grade’s specific curriculum.

Holidays

Celebrating special times throughout the year enables our community to share in the joy of being Jewish. Each holiday gives our students an opportunity to learn the story or history of the holiday, along with the special symbols and traditions. From sharing apples and honey to the annual menorah building contest to the famous “chocolate seder” to grade-level Shabbat dinners, students are reminded of how special it is to live in Jewish time.

Torah

As the foundation of Jewish tradition and learning, we teach Torah in its broadest sense and make it relevant and meaningful in our modern lives. Students learn the stories of our ancestors along with discovering the moral and ethical lessons those stories teach. They explore the values and commandments that Torah teaches that can help us to make good decisions in our lives today.

Hebrew

From the very beginning, students are exposed to Hebrew in a variety of ways. Modern Hebrew phrases can be heard in classrooms throughout the school, and a short prayer service is part of the students’ weekly routine. Our youngest students learn Hebrew letters connected to holidays or Jewish values/ideas and this learning evolves into our prayer-based Hebrew curriculum. We want students to develop a comfort with different prayers in the service, and this comfort comes both from attaining reading fluency as well as understanding the themes and concepts of prayers.

Curriculum

Curriculum

While each grade has its own discrete curriculum so that students gain new knowledge and have new experiences each year, there are several themes woven throughout the grades. Students explore these themes in hands-on ways each year to build their Jewish identity, instill a sense of pride, and help make Judaism meaningful and relevant. See below for each grade’s specific curriculum.

Holidays

Celebrating special times throughout the year enables our community to share in the joy of being Jewish. Each holiday gives our students an opportunity to learn the story or history of the holiday, along with the special symbols and traditions. From sharing apples and honey to the annual menorah building contest to the famous “chocolate seder” to grade-level Shabbat dinners, students are reminded of how special it is to live in Jewish time.

Torah

As the foundation of Jewish tradition and learning, we teach Torah in its broadest sense and make it relevant and meaningful in our modern lives. Students learn the stories of our ancestors along with discovering the moral and ethical lessons those stories teach. They explore the values and commandments that Torah teaches that can help us to make good decisions in our lives today.

Hebrew

From the very beginning, students are exposed to Hebrew in a variety of ways. Modern Hebrew phrases can be heard in classrooms throughout the school, and a short prayer service is part of the students’ weekly routine. Our youngest students learn Hebrew letters connected to holidays or Jewish values/ideas and this learning evolves into our prayer-based Hebrew curriculum. We want students to develop a comfort with different prayers in the service, and this comfort comes both from attaining reading fluency as well as understanding the themes and concepts of prayers.

Israel

As Jews in America, developing a connection to Israel is an important aspect of our Jewish identity. Our school encourages students to explore the different ways they can understand “Am Yisrael” (the people of Israel), “Eretz Yisrael” (the land of Israel), and “Medinat Yisrael” (the modern state of Israel). Interactive lessons in the classrooms and special programs in Israel Land, our very own Israel museum, enable students to develop a relationship with Israel.

Jewish Values

Everything that we do and teach is embedded in Jewish values. Learning mitzvot (commandments) and values help our students to be good people who make decisions that positively impact the world. We don’t simply learn about Jewish values, we live them!


B’nai Mitzvah

Audio Prayers, Torah Blessings & Haftorah Blessings can be found

Temple Shaaray Tefila offers an outstanding B’nai Mitzvah program designed to make the preparation process clear, helpful and hopefully, stress free. Our goal is for your child to become an active, well-educated and responsible member of the Jewish community.

The B’nai Mitzvah program, an extension of our Religious School, teaches students to read and chant Torah, Haftorah and lead our congregation in worship during their B’nai Mitzvah ceremony.

In order to create a truly memorable occasion, a vital part of the Temple Shaaray Tefila B’nai Mitzvah experience entails participation from parents and family members.

Our dedicated rabbis, educators, and staff are involved during every step of the B’nai Mitzvah process. Below, please find a grade by grade overview of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah journey.

As questions arise, please feel free to contact our B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator at 914.666.3133.

Learn all about The Family Walkway. below

1Year 1
4th Grade: Bar/Bat Mitzvah Date and Orientation Meeting – Typically held at the beginning of June, parents and students come together for a compulsory meeting, where a we offer a general overview of the entire B’nai Mitzvah experience. Families hear from our rabbis, educators, senior staff, as well as those who are involved in the Bar and Bat Mitzvah process every step of the way.

Families will receive their child(ren)’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah date. As well, each family will receive a copy of Putting God on the Guest List by Jeffrey Salkin, a focus on how to reclaim meaning and purpose in your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
2Year 2
5th Grade: Breakfast meetings with the Rabbis – once or twice during the fifth grade year, we invite our fifth grade students, along with their parents, to a Sunday morning breakfast with our rabbis. This is a wonderful opportunity to connect informally withthem, and explore relevant topics on the journey toward Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

Start attending Shabbat and holiday services – as part of the Shaaray Tefila community, we have the hope and expectation that Bar/Bat Mitzvah families will join us on Friday evenings throughout the year, so that all can have the opportunity to engage with our community as we celebrate Shabbat together.
3Year 3
6th Grade: B’nai Mitzvah family Retreat (Shabbaton) – in an ongoing effort to make Jewish identity and ritual relevant in the lives of our congregants, especially at this time of Bar/Bat Mitzvah, our 6th grade families are invited to participate in a B’nai Mitzvah Shabbaton Retreat. Throughout Shabbat, families have a great time bonding while participating in learning, worship and social action opportunities with members of our senior staff. 6th graders and parents spend a Shabbat away from Northern Westchester, engaged in study, community building, spiritual preparation, and having part, as part of the process in becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

Additionally, it is our goal to have our families immersed in congregational life, so we request that B’nai Mitzvah families continue attending Shabbat and holiday services with frequency.

Tutoring – Depending on one’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah date, some of our students will begin tutoring in their sixth grade year. Students will be assigned a tutoring session, devoted to preparing your child(ren) for participation in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah service. While the Rabbis and the Director of Education oversee the progress of all of the children throughout this period of preparation, each child will be assigned one teacher/tutor with whom he/she will meet each week. During this individual instruction time, the primary focus will be upon learning to chant the appropriate Torah and Haftarah portions, as well as regular review of our liturgical prayer. Each week, students will have an opportunity to review everything that has thus far been learned, and will be introduced to an appropriate assignment for the coming week. It is crucial that students keep up with assignments at home each week in order to best insure preparedness at his/her Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

Mitzvah Projects – A mitzvah literally translates as “commandment”, taken from our Torah, intended for us to either perform or restrain from a particular action. By becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, one is publicly accepting responsibility for obeying these commandments. Therefore, it is our expectation that each of our B’nai Mitzvah participates in group and individual mitzvah projects. The ToaSTY B’nai Mitzvah Project (TBMP) provides a wide variety of social action opportunities for students to choose from. Our hope is that students will enhance the lives of others by performing these deeds, and will also be of significant meaning to him/her.
4Year 4
7th Grade: As was noted in years two and three, our goal is to have our families immersed in congregational life, so we request that B’nai Mitzvah families continue attending Shabbat and holiday services with frequency.

Family Torah Portion Meeting – Approximately two months prior to one’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the family will meet with Rabbi Nevarez to discuss the meaning of their Torah portion. This session will also serve to provide your child with some thoughts regarding their Bar/Bat Mitzvah speech, and help them explore personal meaning and relevance of Torah to their lives.

Tutoring – as previously mentioned in Year Three, all students will have begun tutoring by the beginning of their seventh grade year. Please refer to the above section for more information regarding tutoring.

During Year Four, students will continue working on their Mitzvah projects.

Workshops with the Rabbis – Within one year of a student’s Bat/Bat Mitzvah, the Rabbis will hold sessions that are geared to further enhance and explore important elements of Jewish identity and the B’nai Mitzvah experience. During these sessions, students and parents will meet in small groups to explore their Torah portions, their personal feelings regarding Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and the relevance of Judaism in our lives today. The workshops (not necessarily in this order) consist of an overview of the service structure, and lessons on rites and rituals. These workshops are a required part of the B’nai Mitzvah program, and while we can not truly mandate attendance at these workshops, we strongly encourage participation.

Family Meetings and Rehearsals – Approximately one month prior to Bar/Bat Mitzvah, families will meet with one of the rabbis to talk about the service, honors, aliyot, prayers, as well as to share the family’s personal story.

Following this, students will have two rehearsals on the Bimah in the Sanctuary, one and two weeks prior to his/her date, enabling students to feel more comfortable and grounded in leading their Bar/Bat Mitzvah service.

Adult Learning

At Temple Shaaray Tefila we believe that Jewish learning is a lifelong journey. Here are some of the ways you and your family can grow and learn with us:

  • B’nai Mitzvah and confirmation classes
  • Frequent lectures on topics including current events, Israel, life cycle stages, and Jewish learning
  • Rabbi-led Torah study every Saturday morning
  • Leadership training program

Adult B’nai Mitzvah

Not every Jewish adult was Bar or Bat Mitzvah at age 13, and it’s never too late to celebrate this incredible milestone! Led by Rabbi Greenberg, our Adult B’nai Mitzvah class is a two year experience which includes both Hebrew reading instruction and Jewish learning. The culmination of the class is a B’nai Mitzvah service, where students’ achievements are recognized by the congregation. We have had students participate ranging in age from 18 to 80, all of who are incredibly grateful for this opportunity. Classes start every other year. A class is beginning in the fall of 2013. Call the Temple office for more information.

Adult Confirmation

Jewish learning doesn’t end when one becomes a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. We believe that adults should also have the opportunity for continued and meaningful learning. This year-long Adult Confirmation class, led by Rabbi Nevarez, explores our foundational Hebrew texts and rabbinic literature, while drawing upon current events, ritual, personal Jewish journeys, and other topics of interest. Classes start every other year. A new class is beginning in the fall of 2013. Contact the Temple office for more information.

Rabbi’s Forum

Mondays at noon – Forum With the Rabbi

Stop by and enjoy a weekly discussion of Jewish teachings and ideas, and their application to contemporary life. Bring your lunch and we’ll supply the drinks.

Torah Study

Saturdays at 9am – Minyan Service and Torah Study

Join us for Minyan service followed by a discussion of the weekly parsha.

Please join us on Saturday mornings in the school building for our lively and spirited Torah Study sessions. Each session will also feature a reading of the Prophets. No Hebrew knowledge or previous Torah study experience is necessary and first timers are warmly welcomed! For more information please contact Joe Grossman.

 
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