A Message from Rabbi Jill Crimmings

Rabbi Crimmings 2014 crop for web

Bet Shalom’s religious school is committed to working together with all families to create a safe and positive environment for children to learn and grow as Jews. We openly welcome interfaith families who are raising their children as Jews, and offer support to non-Jewish family members in our community.

Building community and fostering relationships is a foundational component of Jewish education. Our religious school program is built around the idea that learning is about more than the acquisition of knowledge. We hope our students walk away from their religious school experience feeling connected to their peers and imbued with a deep sense of pride in their Jewish identity. We hope they gain the skills to ask probing questions about texts and traditions (both Jewish and secular), and acquire a base of knowledge about Judaism that will prepare them for the next stage of their Jewish learning as emerging adults. We want our students to love being Jewish and to continue to come to us with their ever-developing questions about God, Jewish tradition, and its relevancy to our lives today.

We use a spiraling curriculum that focuses on Sacred Texts, God and Jewish ethics, and Israel. This reflects our understanding of Mishnah Pirkei Avot 5:25, where we learn that Rabbi Ben Bag-Bag used to say of the Torah, “turn it and turn it again, for everything is in it.” We believe that each time our students return to a text of Torah, they engage with it in a different way. We want our students to develop new understandings of God, Jewish ethics, Torah, and Israel as they grow. Our Hebrew curriculum strives to help students develop a love for the language and feel comfortable reading and understanding Hebrew in the context of worship. For this reason, we do both Modern Hebrew for grades PreK – 7, and prayer-based Hebrew for grades 3-6. Students learn to decode Hebrew in 3rd grade and develop their Hebrew skills in grades 4-6 by focusing on the foundational prayers of our worship service.

Our younger grades also explore topics related to the synagogue and the Jewish home, while our older grades explore modern Jewish History and the Holocaust. All our students come together for t’filah (worship) and shira (music). They also all discuss and celebrate holidays in an age-appropriate way. We recognize that all students learn differently and so we infuse each religious school session with activities that compliment all learning styles. Our teachers are engaging, interactive, and caring and they work together with parents to ensure that Jewish education continues in the home. We have a number of opportunities for parents to learn alongside their children during and outside of religious school hours. We are also blessed to partner with an organization called Sha’arim, which offers superb one on one support for students with special needs. We are proud that Bet Shalom Religious School is a place where all students can learn and grow together.