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To empower children and teens in thinking, loving, living and connecting Jewishly for the good of themselves, their families and the community.
We were always able to pull together through bad times. Everyone is talking about the great unity of the Jewish people, but how do we get there in good times? How do we do it all of the time? We want to love each other and tell ourselves and the people around us that love is a good idea, but how do we get there?
This year’s theme: Why Should I be proud to be Jewish? It is one of the most important questions a Jew should ask. It is not enough to teach our students to do Jewishly and to know Jewishly, we must give them good reasons to want to stay Jewish and pass it on, from Generation to Generation. L’dor V’dor. In the context of the twenty first century secular world, our children are asking: “Who are we and why?” Being Jewish is being different. Why should they want to be different? Being born Jewish is not a convincing answer for them.
There is so much to love about our Jewish faith, yet in today’s world, it is sometimes easy for people, particularly younger generations, to lose sight of the reasons why it is a special gift to be a member of our Jewish people. The students will have a chance to explore and question their faith on different levels with the hope that this journey to discover the beauty of Judaism will promote a sense of pride and Jewish identity.
Informal or experiential education will be a reality in our school this year. Jewish children like summer camp. They want to go, they have fun with their friends, and they admire their counselors. In addition, they come home motivated and enthusiastic about Shabbat, Jewish rituals, Jewish music, and Jewish life. Can we make the religious school experience more like camp? Summer camp has trees and a lake--we do not.
But we can collect ideas and practices from summer camp and adopt them to our needs, curriculum, and environment. I met with our teachers during the summer to train them to build the essential elements of the experiential education. Our goal is to create a set of experiences that will help our children see their learning is relevant, fun, interesting, and part of who they are as Jews.
This is more than having fun--this is creating opportunities for Jewish learning, and it is not happening on a soccer field or by a lake, it will happen within the walls of our Temple--in our Religious School this year!