Congregation Ahavas Achim's Religious School provides lively and fun Jewish learning in a warm and intimate setting. The core Religious School program serves children ages 5-14. In addition, older children and teenagers are always welcome at Sunday afternoon Torah study and other Adult Education opportunities.
Religious School meets weekly on Sunday mornings except during major Jewish holidays or public school vacations. Parents can drop off their children and return at the end of class, or stay in the synagogue. We provide a comfortable space for parents to relax in our Kiddush room, where an espresso machine and the Sunday New York Times are available to them. Parents are also welcome to sit in on Religious School classes.
In first period Hebrew classes, students learn to decode Hebrew fluently as well as learn sight words, and the meanings of key Hebrew word roots. The Hebrew curriculum is primarily geared towards competency in prayer and Torah-reading skills. We want to help our students feel comfortable participating in Jewish prayer services wherever they go and want them to understand the prayers they read. We also hope to give students a sense of Hebrew as a living foreign language which can be studied more formally later in their academic career. Hebrew classes are in a small group setting, with 2-5 students per class, grouped together by Hebrew knowledge.
Second period Jewish Studies classes follow our innovative curriculum, “Giborim: Jewish Life through Jewish Heroes.” In this integrated curriculum, developed at Congregation Ahavas Achim, children learn Torah, mitzvot, values, history, Israel, ethics, and customs through the lens of the lives of major Jewish figures we call “heroes.” Students are divided into two classes by age: five- through eight-year-olds and nine- through fourteen-year-olds. We teach about the heroes in age-appropriate ways that support multi-age learning. Each semester we study heroes grouped together by a common theme, like Mystics, or Musicians and Poets, or Scientists and Discoverers. Students learn not only about the individual heroes, but also about how Jews have contributed over the years to the area of human endeavor covered by the theme.
After second period we have Kehila Time, our all school assembly, which includes singing and Havdalah. Kehila Time is led by the rabbi, providing interaction with clergy for all the children every week. Lessons from the Giborim session are reinforced during Kehila Time with a special song for each of the heroes. Singing and dancing in the Havdala service gives children a chance to move around and also to reflect on the blessings of Shabbat and their hopes for the week to come. These assemblies as well as multi-age celebrations of holidays lead to strong bonds between older and younger students, bonds that extend beyond the classroom.
In preparation for B'nai Mitzvah and beyond, students will have learned to lead the congregation in the central prayers, to chant from the Torah, and to teach about their Torah portion in a d'var Torah sermon. The student's writing of the D'var Torah is the culmination of a process which begins with family Torah study, exploration, and research aided by the rabbi. B’nai Mitzvah candidates also participate in a mitzvah service project.
Religious School students at CAA look forward to special holiday events and sessions, which are planned for each of the Jewish holidays celebrated during the school year. Holiday “stations” allow students to learn different aspects of each holiday in a relaxed manner, and to engage in holiday crafts and other activities. Over the course of the year, the students experience "dwelling" in the CAA sukkah and celebrating the New Year of the Trees with a fruit and nut seder. The fun continues with a Purim Carnival, and with searching the building by flashlight for any remaining leavened chametz before Passover. In the spring, the Israel Fair gives the students more insight into our Jewish homeland. And the end of year LaG Ba'Omer picnic is a wonderful way to wind down the school year.
Students of all ages are encouraged to attend Friday night Shabbat services regularly. Saturday morning services, held monthly, are a great chance to reinforce learning and an important way for B’nai Mitzvah students to prepare to lead the congregation. During the school year, Religious School classes help lead several services and are joined by recent graduates as well.
Religious School starts in September and goes through early June. Contact the CAA office for a full calendar and registration forms, or if you have any questions.
Religious school is canceled if roads are impassable. For up to date weather information click here.
An online Registration form is available here.
A presentation about our Jewish Heroes curriculum is available here.