Religious School Mission and Philosophy

 

schoolmission Beth El Temple Center Religious School seeks to nurture in our students the development of a Jewish identity characterized by knowledge, action, and commitment.  As a Reform Jewish institution, we hope to challenge our students (and to help them acquire the requisite knowledge and skills) to discover their own path to authentic relationships with God, Torah and the Jewish people.  We believe that the Jewish religious tradition offers a worldview, a set of values and a way of life that can provide an enormously precious anchor in the midst of a turbulent and rapidly changing world.

 

 In the school we strive to develop:

  • the commitment to an active Jewish life
  • a level of Jewish literacy that provides students with the necessary foundation to participate fully in Jewish spiritual and communal practice
  • a connection between Jewish moral values and active tikkun olam – repair of the world
  • opportunities for continued exploration of a personal relationship with God
  • a sense of community and connection with the congregation

 The school curriculum encourages the exploration of:

  • what it means to be Jewish
  • Jewish holidays, rituals and life cycle events
  • a personal sense of God
  • Jewish values and ethics
  • the lessons and relevance of Torah and other sacred texts
  • a connection to the people and State of Israel
  • the use of the Hebrew language, particularly in relation to liturgy, but also in its everyday spoken form
  • the history of the Jewish people
  • comparative Judaism
  • the Holocaust and related issues of anti-Semitism, belonging and community (with age-appropriate sensitivity)

 

Components of Jewish Education at Beth El Temple Center:

 

Jewish Living: Learning Torah, sacred texts, ritual practice, Jewish values and traditions are the foundation of our curriculum.  Our aim is for each student to discover and grow into his/her own sense of Jewish identity.  We want students to explore and experience Judaism, to see that it impacts them in their daily lives and to enable them to make educated Jewish choices.

 

Our Jewish Literacy goals include:

Study
- develop an appreciation of Jewish texts
- discover Torah’s relevance to our own lives

Prayer
- become familiar with standard Jewish liturgy, its history and meaning
- learn basic prayer skills
- encourage personal religious expression

Hebrew
- develop fluency in Hebrew reading of Shabbat prayers
- gain familiarity with basic Modern Hebrew

God/Spirituality
- develop an understanding of God in our world and the Jewish view(s) of God
- encourage awareness and expression of spiritual times in everyday life
- develop a personal connection with God

Calendar
- develop an awareness of the cycle of the Jewish year
- study themes, rituals, concepts and history of Jewish festivals and holy days

Israel
- develop students’ awareness of the centrality of Israel to Judaism
- foster a connection to the State of Israel and her people

Jewish Identity/Jewish Community
- develop an understanding of what makes us Jewish
- begin to identify with the Jewish World Community throughout time and place

 

Jewish Family: The family is the primary agent in the development of a child’s Jewish experience. We want to work together to build a gesher, a bridge, between the home and the school.  We want to involve parents in being teachers and role models to their children.  This is done through our family education programs as well as other school-wide learning opportunities.

 

Jewish Ethics and Values: The Religious School is not just a place to learn Jewish information.  It is a place where everyone – teachers and students alike are encouraged to act in a manner that demonstrates derech eretz, the right path.

 

Through building a community around respect, responsibility and ruach (spirit), we hope to develop and encourage:
- mutual respect between peers
- a sense of responsibility for one’s actions
- concern for both the immediate community and the world at large
- the Jewish values of kavod (respect), tzedakah (righteous giving), gemilut chasadim (acts of loving kindness) and tikkun olam (repairing the world)