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YOUTH BET MIDRASH

 

April 7, 2021
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 and opening our physical space and about considerations for gathering in person. Our religious life committee and innumerable volunteers have helped us make the spiritual life of Bnai Keshet accessible and meaningful, whether fully online or partially in person.

Thanks to the hard work and deep thinking of Bnai Keshet leadership, parents, and faculty, we have been so lucky to spend much of our year hosting in-person learning for our youngest students in Covid-safer ways. We have learned so much about both teaching in-person with all appropriate safety precautions as well as how to teach classes which are sometimes in person and sometimes online, and how to teach completely virtual classes. This has been a period of tremendous growth in both our skills and our adaptability.

Our hope and plan for the coming year is to have in-person classes available for all students throughout the year. Our plans hinge on three essential considerations:

  • the spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being of our students,
  • the comfort and trust of our students’ parents,
  • and the physical safety of our staff and faculty in light of ever-changing local infection rates and vaccine rates, and following the guidelines of our medical task force.

This past year, we have focused our curriculum around the spiritual and emotional tools all people need to face difficult circumstances with courage, optimism, and love. We have worked hard to be responsive to the emotional needs of our students, who have born the heavy weight of isolation with more resilience than many of us adults. Nevertheless, we have all seen the effects of more than a year of disruption. While some of our students have excelled academically online, we know that it has been particularly hard to feel spiritually sustained through a Zoom screen.

Despite our strong desire to be physically together, I also want to acknowledge the many things we have learned in this year of experimentation. We have had the opportunity to engage children with the peers and Jewishly, all from the comfort of each of our homes. We have conducted real-time cooking classes and art projects with hands-on help from parents, bringing the entire family into the learning experience. We have evolved technologically, moving from an almost entirely tech-free learning environment to sophisticated virtual platforms, allowing us to communicate all week long, during and between classes. We’ve begun to learn how to manage hybrid classes when one or more students are not able to join us on site. We plan on bringing the best of our learnings from this past year into the future with us, continuing to enrich our learning together.

Registration for this coming school year will commence soon. We are so excited to welcome both familiar and new faces to our program. If you are interested in joining the BK Bet Midrash, or know someone who is, please do not hesitate to put them in touch with us.

with love,

Rabbi Ariann Weitzman

 

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,
       Sept - Jan

         plus Sunday trips

 

 

 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 program puts a uniquely Reconstructionist spin on the breadth and depth of the Jewish experience.  

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.

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. 

Finally, our electives curriculum allows students to choose to deeply study an area of the Jewish experience that speaks to their Jewish lives. New electives are developed each year taking into account student interest, faculty expertise, and responding to contemporary issues. Past electives have included Introductory Yiddish, Sibling Rivalry in the Torah, Jewish Dream Interpretation, Writing out own Haggadah, Jewish Artists, Contemporary Jewish Music, Jews and the history of the Civil Rights Movement, Reframing Israel, Kosher Cooking, Seven Species Cooking, Jews in Nature (conducted outdoors), Youth Choir, and many others.

Our Principles
Class Descriptions

 

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

         

 

 

Tue, May 18 2021 7 Sivan 5781