What is the Deal with Religious School?

Ellen Goldin

What is the deal with Religious School? What is the point?…We need to put this in context for our children so they can grow and thrive as a person and as a Jew. RELIGIOUS SCHOOL PROVIDES YOUR CHILDREN WITH BUILDING BLOCKS OF PERSONAL IDENTITY IN A COMMUNAL SETTING. The concept of community is central in Judaism.

Torah…What is in it?…Why is it so central to Judaism? THE TORAH IS A TIMELESS DOCUMENT THAT SPANS THE GENERATIONS. It contains ethics, rituals and history. The Torah is a GPS for how to live a decent life.

Formal and informal Jewish educational experiences like Religious School and summer programs, Jewish socialization experiences like youth groups, and FAMILY attitudes/practices, social action/mitzvah projects are some of the ingredients that nurture Jewish children into adults with solid Jewish centers.

How can parents help with this process? Here are 7 simple Jewish parenting suggestions:

  • Attend TBT Grade Level Family Education opportunities with your children. Attend Temple communal holiday celebrations such as our Tu B’Shevat seder, Purim Megillah reading and Temple Passover seder.
  • Be attentive and respectful in the Sanctuary. Listen, Sh’ema, don’t talk or text.
  • Light Shabbat candles and eat “Shabbat dinner” together as a family at least one Friday per month.
  • Celebrate Jewish holidays with family and friends. During March and April, we will celebrate Purim and Passover. These Jewish holidays are wonderful opportunities to experience the rich history of the Jewish people.
  • Make Religious School a priority on the day your children attend. Keep early dismissals to a minimum and only for special events.
  • Communicate with the Religious School faculty and with me about issues that need attention. We are here for you and your children.
  • Send your children to Jewish summer camps and programs. Camp Eisner in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts and Camp Harlam in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania are URJ (Union of Reform Judaism) camp affiliates. Log on to www.urj.org for more information on camps, other summer opportunities and articles on happenings in the Jewish world.

Let your children know that being Jewish is important to you by your words and by your deeds. Help them understand that is why you have joined Temple Beth Tikvah and why you are sending them to Religious School.

Ellen Goldin

For more on Jewish parenting:

Joys and Oys of Parenting: Insight and Wisdom from the Jewish Tradition by Maurice J. Elias Ph.D./Marilyn E. Gootman Ed.D./Heather L. Schwartz, MA Published by Behrman House (www.behrmanhouse.com)

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