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Religious School

Meeting the Religious Education Needs of Our Youth

Etgar Experience: Grades K–7, including teens from Adath Jeshurun and Beth Sholom (8231 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027). Etgar Experience meets in person two times per week (one time for our Kindergarten and 1st grade students). Etgar Experience combines new technology with exciting curricular content that deepens our children’s knowledge and love of Jewish life. Children are taught by outstanding faculty whose experience will ensure that our children will be both nurtured and challenged.

Highlights of Etgar include:

  • Our Hebrew curriculum focuses on decoding and reading Hebrew with confidence and competence as well as learning basic vocabulary/concepts based on Hebrew as a Heritage Language. Hebrew instruction will be done in small groups or in one-on-one settings with a master Hebrew language teacher.
  • We have a sequenced curriculum that includes prayer, history, culture, and ritual that helps students to connect their lives with the story of the Jewish people.
  • We teach sacred texts and stories to learn Jewish values. Sacred texts include study of Torah and Haftarah; our older students become familiar with texts from the Mishnah and Talmud.
  • Students learn the history of ancient Israel and the origins of the modern State of Israel.
  • Students have a sequenced approach to the Jewish holiday cycle.
  • Approximately once per month, students meet on Shabbat rather than on Sundays to be able to experience the joy of Shabbat within a larger communal context.
  • Students strengthen their relationship to prayer and to the Siddur as they create a deepened and more nuanced understanding of God’s role in their lives.
  • We use technology to respond to our students’ multiple ways of learning including visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. We use online materials and apps from Behrman House to allow our children to expand their learning outside of school hours. These online tools allow parents to be active partners in their children’s Jewish learning. The texts are accompanied by assessment tools to gauge teacher effectiveness and student understanding.
  • We continue to collaborate with KI and Beth Am to provide our students with opportunities to socialize with other Jewish children on the Old York Road Corridor.
  • We are excited to introduce Etgar+, a pre-B’nai Mitzvah curriculum for 6th and 7th graders. In response to best practices for middle schoolers to learn together, we will provide our students with Hebrew enrichment, pre-B’nai Mitzvah tefillah experiences, individualized learning on each child’s Torah and Haftarah portion for Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Torah and Haftarah trope classes with our cantors, and small-group learning opportunities with our rabbis.  

Please feel free to contact Julie Atchick at jatchick@bethsholomcongregation.org or our clergy with any questions or concerns.

Jewish Teen Collaborative (JTC): Grades 8–10, including teens from Adath Jeshurun and Beth Sholom
JTC meets on Tuesday nights, from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. Each student participates in two classes every week. One class is a grade-level course, and the other class is Hebrew. Our grade-level classes offer a variety of Jewish content, age appropriate and relevant to the theme of the course. Jewish history, Jewish text, Jewish culture, ethics, modern Israel, and so much more, are an integral part of the courses. Our teens study not just through informed lessons, but mostly through guided personal research, peers’ teaching, and experiential learning. Each course ends in a special night with families, clergy, and staff, where our teens present their courses’ related product.

Our Hebrew class is designed to strengthen our students’ reading skills, and to teach basic conversation ability. We want our teens to learn the Hebrew they need for practicing their Judaism, and the Hebrew they need in order to maintain some connections with modern Israel. JTC also meets one Sunday each month and one Shabbat or holiday each month. Sunday programs offer either trips, speakers, or films followed by discussions, social action projects, or community-building activities. Our Shabbat and holiday programming brings the teens to both synagogues in order to participate in observance, discussions, appropriate activities, and a meal.

JTC staff members have extensive experience working with teens through both formal and informal education. They are all passionate about Jewish teaching and are working hard to provide a great learning experience for our teens.

For any questions, please contact Ossi Nussbaum at JTCdirectors@gmail.com.
>>>Pictured: while on a field trip, two of our JTC students discover AJ at The National Liberty Museum.

Bernstein Torah Academy
Generations of young people have learned to read Torah from the Bernstein Torah Academy. This tradition continues today. Over 50 years ago, the Torah Club (later named the Bernstein Torah Academy) was started under the direction of Rabbi Yaakov Rosenberg and Cantor Charles Davidson. The idea was to teach children starting at age 10 to read Torah on Shabbat Mincha and Monday and Thursday mornings so that when they became bar/bat mitzvah they would already know the skill of chanting from the Torah. When these children were around 16 years old, they were able to teach the younger ones. Hundreds of children have been taught to read Torah at AJ and many of our graduates read at other shuls around the country. In fact, our program has been replicated at other shuls by some of our former students. To this day, AJ does not have a paid professional reading from the Torah, but rather children and adults who have been trained right here at AJ.

Today, the program has been incorporated into our Hebrew school, for 5th graders. It’s currently being taught by Hazzan Glantz. Adults are also encouraged to learn how to chant from the Torah and there are several members of our congregation who are experienced and willing to teach you. No one’s too old to learn! If you’re interested in learning, contact Hazzan Glantz at 215.635.6611, ext. 122 or hglantz@gmail.com.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program
At AJ, children start their individual training with the Hazzan approximately 8 months prior to their bar/bat mitzvah. This training includes chanting from the Torah, Haftarah, leading the Torah Service, and Musaf Service. Children also participate in the Friday evening service before the day of the bar/bat mitzvah. The program also includes meetings with the Rabbi for both the child and the parents.

Confirmation Program
Confirmation at Adath Jeshurun is a long-standing tradition. When students reach 10th grade, they participate in Confirmation classes and activities. While this is the culmination of formal Jewish learning at AJ, one of the messages of the Confirmation year is that Jewish learning never ends. Confirmation, in many ways, is a beginning for our students.

As part of Confirmation year, the students attend seminar style classes with the clergy. They may participate in social action activities. In addition, they take a special trip to New York that includes visits to Jewish educational institutions, kosher meals, and a Broadway show.

At the end of the year, the students lead a special Confirmation service during which they not only lead the prayers, but read essays they have written relating to the service, the Confirmation experience, and being a young Jewish adult. Students who participate in Confirmation appreciate being part of a rich tradition that encourages their engagement in the present and future Jewish educational and lifestyle experiences.

Wed, December 8 2021 4 Tevet 5782