To me, it feels much too soon to say this; however, here it is—Our Makor school year is over! It is already June, and we have finished our first year of our new Makor program. I am very proud of the deep Jewish teaching and learning all of our teachers and campOrs did between last September and now. At this time, as we are preparing for our 2017-2018 year, I would like to inform you all of some changes we will be making to our program to make it more effective and exciting for our kids.
One of the most important changes will be that, as of the beginning of next year, we will no longer have Hebrew School on Wednesday afternoons. Our Hebrew program will now take place on Sundays, immediately after Makor. It will include a pizza lunch (provided by Temple Beth Or) and will run from 12:30 to 2:00. Students in the year before bar or bat mitzvah (the b’nai mitzvah camp) will schedule a weekly 1-on-1 time to work with Rabbi Chessin or myself on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.
The reason we opted to make this change is that we found—as have a large number other congregations around the country—that Wednesday afternoons are too busy and challenging a time for many families to bring students in for Hebrew study. Additionally, and equally important, we are mindful of the fact our students come to us on Wednesday afternoons after having attended a full day of secular school programs. Often, as a result of this, their energy and attention is diminished, and learning Hebrew becomes much more of a challenge than it might otherwise be.
As we make this change, I want to remind everyone that attendance of Hebrew School is an expectation of all children who anticipate having a bar or bat mitzvah at Temple Beth Or. The instruction that takes place during Hebrew School is indispensible to both our children’s ability to successfully navigate leading a Saturday morning service as b’nai mitzvah and to their burgeoning competency as members of our adult Jewish community. Regular attendance in our Hebrew School program—in addition to participation in our “b’nai mitzvah camp” during the year preceding bar or bat mitzvah—is essential in making this process function. I am very hopeful that this change to our Hebrew program will make attendance possible for every one of our children in grades 3-6.
I do also want to make you aware of some other changes that we will be making to Makor, ones that I consider very fun and exciting. After having wrapped up our first year of Makor with dedicated “specials” for our campOrs, we are now expanding the program to include fully-fledged electives from which they will be able to choose. Our year will be divided into three trimesters, and during each trimester kids will be able to pick one or two electives (this depending on a few variables) they want to participate in during that time. The list we currently have includes programs which teach the following topics with a Jewish spin: Art, cooking, yoga, digital media, song-leading and guitar playing, and (continued from last year) Mizmor Or. We are hopeful that giving our kids greater choice in their electives will help them to take ownership of their Jewish learning.
All in all, I think that we have a great year coming up in the fall. I am very much looking forward to it, and I hope you are too. If you have any questions, as always, please feel free to give me a call or set up a time for us to meet!