Meeting the Religious Education Needs of Our Youth
JQuest B'Yachad: Grades K-6
JQuest B'Yachad is religious school re-imagined for families of Elkins Park, Abington, Philadelphia, Upper Dublin, Lower Moreland, and beyond. Keeping the same goals for bar and bat mitzvah that existed in the Hebrew schools of the previous decade, JQuest B’Yachad uses 21st century educational research to ensure students learn more, dig deeper, and have a more fun, engaging experience. For more information http://www.jquest.org.
Jewish Teen Collaborative (JTC): Grades 7-10, including teens from Adath Jeshurun and Beth Sholom
JTC meets on Tuesday nights. Dinner begins at 6:15 PM so our teens have a chance to socialize and spend some informal time with each other as well as their teachers. The first class begins at 6:45 PM, followed by a short break. The second class runs from 7:45 PM to 8:30 PM. A trimester system is used so that students can have more choice and breadth of subject matter. Each grade has two trimesters where one class period is a required course. The remainder of the classes are electives based on student interest.
Some electives explore food insecurity in the world, Hebrew conversation through art or cooking, social justice, bioethics, sports through a Jewish lens, shtetl skills, Israeli sign language, as well as other topics. Required courses by grade level include Law and Order JTC (Mishna), Modern Israel, Ethics, American Jewish History, Digging into Torah, Confirmation Seminar, and more. JTC staff members have extensive experience working with teens through both formal and informal education.
JTC also meets one Sunday each month and one Shabbat or holiday each month. Sunday programs offer either trips, speakers, films, or social action projects. Our Shabbat and holiday programming brings the teens to both synagogues in order to participate in observance, discussions, meals, and appropriate activities.
For any questions, please contact Debbie Miner at JTCdirectors@gmail.com.
>>>At right, 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 Robert Friedman at 215.635.6611, ext. 112.
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, Haftorah, 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 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.