Gan Shalom Preschool (Berkeley, CA)
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Gan Shalom Preschool (Berkeley, CA)
- Owner: affiliated with Congregation Beth Israel
- Phone: (510) 843-5246 or (510) 848-3298
- Neighborhood: Central Berkeley on Jefferson St.
- Zip: 94703
- License #: 010210478
- Capacity: 25
- Website: http://ganshalomberkeley.com/
- Ages: 2.9 years to kindergarten
Our family is visiting Berkeley just for a year while my husband is on sabbatical
and visiting the university. We enrolled our youngest daughter in Gan Shalom
preschool and couldn't be happier. This is the third preschool our family has
experienced -- the first two were in Seattle, WA and in Pasadena, CA -- and we
love it by far the most. It's a magical place, full of music and dramatic
storytelling. The school is unusual in that it is quite small (20-25 students) and
kids ages 3-5 are all together in one space most of the time. Having a range of
ages works well for my four-year-old. She looks up to the older kids and finds the
younger ones ''cute'' and enjoys playing with both. For part of the day, the kids
are also divided into smaller groups for age-appropriate activities.
There are four teachers, all with different strengths. One plays the guitar and
sings beautifully, one is Israeli and speaks and sings with the kids in Hebrew,
another is wonderful at telling stories with puppets. All are kind and loving and
help facilitate positive play, and teach basic skills like good hand washing and
using the potty. Our only regret is that we have to leave this wonderful school at
the end of the year.
Re: Looking for a fun, easy-going Jewish preschool
We sent both our children to Gan Shalom in Berkeley and love it
there. A loving, kind, playful place that manages to create
wonderful Jewish stories and songs and atmosphere on a level
accessible for everyone from 3 year olds to grownups. We also
have lots of friends with kids at Netivot Shalom who love it
there too. Both places have a vibrant parent community.
Try Gan Shalom Preschool on Jefferson St. in Berkeley. My first
child went for two years and my second is in her first year
there. I continue to feel excited by the curriculum and the very
creative teachers. There is a place for all families interested
in Judaism and a respect for the diverse meaning that has within
Re: Do I need to join a temple to get into preschool?
We have been extremely happy with Gan Shalom in Berkeley, which
is affiliated with Congregation Beth Israel (cbiberkeley.org).
Although it is a nominally Orthodox preschool, many of the
children come from intermarried families, some of whom have
converted and many of whom have not. It is play-based, with
several working artists on the faculty, so the art projects are
impressively diverse, thoughtful, and well-conceived. It is a
small (5 teachers, 25 kids), relaxed, loving environment, and
kids learn a tremendous amount about the Jewish calendar, Jewish
values, etc. I'd recommend a visit, at the least.
I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who as experience with Gan Shalom
preschool. I've heard some good things from acquaintances but have found no
postings here and I'd like to learn more.
Gan Shalom Preschool in Central Berkeley has a warm, homelike
atmosphere combined with teachers who are professional, creative
and very skilled. It is a Modern Orthodox Jewish setting that is
open to families with any level of Jewish observance. We have
found an incredibly strong sense of community and great learning
that have taken place for our daughter in her individual
friendships as well as for us as a family. Gan Shalom's focus on
group identity as a Jewish community combined with attention to
the uniqueness of each individual child make this school a very
special place. A real celebration. If you have any questions feel
free to email me. I am currently a parent there.
My two children have gone to Gan Shalom preschool in the last few
years and loved it. One child was very introverted, wanted
everything ordered a particular way, socially a bit awkward, not
affectionate, scared of new things and new people. He completely
blossomed there in their open, play-based, loving atmosphere.
They waited for him and encouraged him and loved him but never
pressured him and he became open and loving and brave and
friendly--an amazing transformation in the course of a year. My
other child is and was socially a butterfly, confident,
willful--and also loves it there. It is just a very loving, low
key, accepting kind of place where kids have fun and are
supported in who they are.
The Jewish content at the school is nice, but also low key. The
kids celebrate the sabbath every Friday, learn stories (Noah's
Ark, etc.), and do crafts and activities around the holidays. I
believe they also say a blessing before and after meals, and I
know they send prayers for healing to friends and family who are
sick (this is very cute- the kids throw out their hands and say
''Whoosh! A full healing!''). We enjoyed hearing our kids come
home singing the blessing after eating in Hebrew, and other
As you may know, Gan Shalom has two openings at the moment. I
would really encourage you to check it out- it's a great place.
Gan Shalom is a very creative, endearing and learning-oriented
school. Having had preschoolers both there and at other
schools (I currently have two at Gan Shalom), my sense is that
art, music, and general 'how to be a good kid' skills are
emphasized much more at Gan Shalom than at many places. In
addition, kids get significant, age-appropriate exposure to the
moral issues in many Bible stories, often through activities
that include dance, drama and art. Also, don't be scared off
by the ''Modern Orthodox'' commitment of the school--only about
10-20% of famililies in any given year identify as Modern
Orthodox, and the rest span the gamut from unaffiliated to
Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and even not Jewish. If
you want to get more info on Gan Shalom feel free to email me.
Our daughter is in her second year at Gan Shalom and she loves it - misses going
during vacations and is happy to go every day. At Gan Shalom, teachers help
children develop their hearts and spirits as well as their minds. My daughter is
thriving at Gan - intellectually as well as emotionally and socially. The environment
is stimulating and she comes home talking about what she is learning every day. I
like that she is learning values that are important to me such as honoring all beings,
gratitude, and taking care of others. The teachers do a wonderful job of helping
chldren learn to negotiate conflict and respect each other. I found the community
to be welcoming and generous. (We had our second child a few weeks after my
daughter started preschool, and many people in the community brought us food
even though they didn't know us yet.) We love Gan Shalom and highly recommend
Gan Shalom is a wonderful preschool. Our first child started
there in 2001 and our third child is there now. Of all the
teachers in that period, they have all been great. Somehow they
always seem to be able to attract the most amazing, warm,
enthusiastic, creative and down-to-earth teachers. The small
school size makes the experience very unintimidating for both
the kids and the parents. The kids and the parents all get to
know each other quite quickly and really become a community. We
We sent our (now kindergartner!) son to Gan Shalom for 2 years
and he loved it!! When he entered, he had a hard time with
strangers, with affection, with loose play, with friendships---he
blossomed incredibly in the first year and was able to be
relaxed, affectionate, playful and loving. He had strong
attachments to the teachers and the other kids there. There is a
strong atmosphere of kindness and love, as well as playfulness.
He looked forward to going every day and we felt that the
teachers really appreciated his individual strengths as well as
gently helping him to grow in areas that he needed help. The art
projects were amazing--we still enjoy looking at them. The
community of parents is supportive and friendly and welcoming to
a broad range of different Jewish religious practice.
this page was last updated: Jul 20, 2014
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