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YOUTH BET MIDRASH

 

A letter to families about the 2020-21 school year:

Dear Families,

From the beginning of the pandemic, Bnai Keshet leadership has been hard at work helping to keep our community physically healthy, emotionally supported, and spiritually connected. A team of medical experts has guided our decision making about both closing our physical space and about considerations for beginning to gather in person. Our religious life committee and innumerable volunteers have helped us make the spiritual life of Bnai Keshet accessible and meaningful. A dedicated team of Bnai Keshet leadership, parents, and I have been working over the past two months to imagine the beginning of our Bet Midrash year during Covid-19. While we were able to work quickly under duress in March, we are now in a position to think carefully about best practices in religious education when in-person gatherings will not be the same for some time.

Due to the overwhelming recommendations from our medical team, our deep concern for the health and safety of our students and faculty, and the feedback from many parents, we have decided to open Bet Midrash in a mostly-online format this fall. As the year progresses, we hope to increase in-person offerings as medical guidance allows.

We know that children need to socialize, to move their bodies in learning, to sing together, and to see their teachers’ faces. We also know that engaging by Zoom is more tiring than in person for most students. Finally, we know that teachers were not trained for online environments, and will require proactive and ongoing training to be as effective as possible. All of these concerns and more have factored into our planning so far and will continue to as we prepare for the coming year.   

What will “mostly-online” Bet Midrash look like? 

  • For all students: an online Shabbat prayer experience weekly, a Shabbat learning experience with online and home-based components, and regular personal calls from teachers 
  • For 3rd-7th grade students: Asynchronous (do at your own pace through Google Classroom) and synchronous (meet together by Zoom) online electives, midweek learning by grade through Zoom, and small group or individualized Hebrew instruction so that students can continue to progress through our robust Hebrew program and b’nai mitzvah students stay on track
  • For 8th grade students: A rabbi-led, 1x/week class through Zoom, continued weekly tutoring for students approaching b’nai mitzvah
  • Increased opportunities for Family Learning and other “offline” experiences
  • In-person gatherings for socializing, learning picnics and hikes, teacher meetings, Family Education, etc. whenever possible, generally scheduled on Shabbat.

As much as possible, our online sessions will follow our in-person schedule of Monday evenings (6-8th), Wednesday afternoons (3rd-5th), and Shabbat mornings (K-7), to facilitate transition to in-person learning when possible. We will also be providing e-mail addresses for all students and faculty @bnaikeshet.org, so that our Google Classroom environments can remain secure and easy to navigate.

And we will remain responsive to the world we are all living in, with a whole-community focus in our Judaics curriculum on digital citizenship, love for our neighbors, self-care, and other values related to this moment from a specifically Jewish angle.

We value our learning community and especially the hard work of our faculty, who are excited to dig in and begin preparations for the coming year. Despite potentially reduced “face time” in the beginning of the year, we know our faculty will be putting in more hours than ever in preparation time and managing Google Classrooms. Therefore, our tuition rates will stay flat for the coming year for K-8th grade. At the same time, we know that our members are experiencing greater financial insecurity than ever, and we want to be absolutely clear that inability to pay full tuition should never be what keeps a family from participating in learning or spiritual life. We are always ready to work with your family’s unique situation.

As in previous years, the office will be “promoting” students to the next grade automatically, and will begin billing on August 1st. Please reach out to us before that date to make an adjustment, if need be. We will be sending out a fuller “registration” form link soon.

Due to the particular needs of young children, we will not be offering online Pre-K Workshops, but will offer many opportunities for Pre-K and younger children to gather for songs and storytelling, as well as opportunities for at-home family learning. This is a free and open offering to the community, and we hope your youngest children will join us and you’ll invite others to come as well.

with love,

Rabbi Ariann Weitzman

Ivy Fischer (VP of Education)

Click here for Adult Bet Midrash
Bet Midrash Schedule
The full calendar is available here

 Class

 Monday

 Wednesday

 Shabbat

 Pre-K

 (See dates here)

   

 
 Workshop 9:00am - 10:15am
 Tot Shabbat 10:15am - 11:00am

 Gan (K)
 Alef (1)
 Bet (2)

   

 9:00am - 12:00pm

 Gimmel (3)
 Dalet (4)
 Hey (5)

 

 4:15pm - 6:00pm

 9:00am - 12:00pm

 Vav (6)
 Zayin (7)

 5:30pm - 8:00pm

 

 9:00am - 12:00pm

 Eighth Grade

 6:30pm - 8:00pm

 plus Sunday trips

 

 9:00am - 12:00pm
 (Zayin ends at 10:00am when there is a

 bar/bat mitzvah)

 BK Teens

 (High School)

 Dinner with Rabbis once a month on Fridays
 BBYO 2 times per month on Tuesdays

 Bet Midrash is closed during most Montclair school closings, long weekends, and most Jewish holidays.
 Closings for inclement weather are announced through our website and e-mail blasts. When schools close early for inclement

 weather or cancel afterschool activities, Bet Midrash will also close.

 

What makes Bnai Keshet’s Bet Midrash unique?
Our Bet Midrash strives to cover similar ground to other Jewish education programs in terms of learning about Jewish values, practices/customs, holidays, Bible, and history. 

Our curriculum includes:
Jewish celebrations and holidays; mitzvot (commandments) and rituals; lifecycle; liturgical practice, language, and history; the weekly Torah portion and major stories of the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible); Jewish history; rabbinic texts; the land and state of Israel; Jewish ethics and values; the many faces of klal Yisrael (the Jewish people); Hebrew reading and writing, basic translation of prayer and modern texts, and simple Hebrew conversation.  Reconstructionist principles of egalitarianism, values-based communal decision making, and the evolution of Jewish civilization underlie all of our teachings.

Our holiday curriculum is taught as a “spiral” curriculum, which means the same topics are covered over several years, with a varying focus each year.  While 3rd graders explore the Jewish calendar as a whole and touch on every holiday, 5th graders explore the holidays related especially to themes of freedom and 6th graders explore holidays through a lens of tikkun olam and social justice. 

Our Bible curriculum is a hybrid of spiral and sequential learning.  Our students study Torah stories from kindergarten through fourth grade with an emphasis on Genesis, Exodus, and Deuteronomy.  In fifth and sixth grade they study Prophets and Writings (particularly those related to holidays).  In 7th grade, they return to Torah and work on parshat hashavua.  While we learn holidays and Bible in a particularly Reconstructionist way, with an emphasis on the historical arc of Judaism and the global diversity of Judaism, and with an abundance of music, movement, and art, these are curricular pieces that are common to almost all synagogue schools.

Our values and Jewish ideas curriculum is unique to Bnai Keshet and is deeply connected to our Family Education program.  Each grade has a theme for the year which guides their study, although of course discussion of bigger Jewish ideas and values comes up repetitively.  For example, fourth-graders focus on kedushah (holiness) and so their core curriculum is centered on questions of spirituality and theology.  Our seventh graders have a focus of hochma (wisdom), and through that focus on how we derive wisdom from our sacred texts, how to have hard conversations, and questions of ethics. 

Our Principles
Class Descriptions

 

Contact:
Rabbi Ariann Weitzman, Associate Rabbi & Director of Congregational Learning
Ivy Fischer​​​​​​VP for Education

         

 

 

Sat, December 5 2020 19 Kislev 5781