A Rabbinic Vision for Religious School

on Friday, 01 July 2011. Posted in Rabbi Marshall's Articles

The ORacle, July-August 2011 Issue

Teaching Torah begins with developing relationships, and this coming year at Religious School, my time with the students will focus on deepening our connections. Together, we will deepen our understanding of theology and, spirituality, and through this lens, explore Jewish identity. Therefore during my time with the students, we will examine feelings about God and what being Jewish means to them.

For the past two years, I fit my Religious School lessons into the students’ URJ CHAI curriculum, but the structure of my educational programming was not as cohesive as I would have liked. This coming year, lessons will be tailored to the particular needs of the class while delving into the relationship between Jewish identity, versus action, versus belief. Ideally, this approach will foster connections with students that encourage them to reach out to me with their deeper questions and struggles. It is imperative to me that students feel they have a Rabbi to turn to and talk with throughout their evolving Jewish journey.

 

We will have guiding questions for the year integrating, discussion, drama, and art to reflect upon:

-Personal Jewish identity that go beyond the lesson plans.

            -Additional concrete ways to create Jewish meaning.

-Building a more sophisticated conception of the Eternal.

I plan to attend the teacher’s meeting at the beginning of the school year to brainstorm ways we can support each other as well as hear about the specific Jewish struggles unique to each class.

Parental support and commitment are all a crucial part of religious education. I will frequently lead k’hilah and several Family Education programs as we seek to build an even stronger parental community as well as to further foster Jewish connections and experiences that can be shared at home. These family education programs will center around both Jewish values and creative, meaningful ways to celebrate holidays at home. During these programs, I will spend time with just parents and with families together. Opportunities for family participation will continue throughout the year at Shabbat during our monthly First Friday service as well as our High Holy Days children’s services, Simchat Torah, and Purim celebrations which are all geared towards families.

Religious School Principal Debbie Zainwel and I are both enthusiastic about this new vision. We look forward to hearing from you and to a meaningful and exciting school year this fall.