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My son is in 2nd grade and really wants to go to Hebrew school. We
haven't yet connected into the local shuls & I don't know where to begin
with choosing which would be the best fit.
I grew up conservative but resonate most with Carlebach sound & more
traditional Israeli customs & views. Learning hebrew is very important
as well as the traditions and spiritual aspect of the religion. We are
not very observant, but no less connected to our religion.
Any reccs on which East Bay (Berkeley would be ideal) synagogue offers
Hebrew school classes that may be a fit? Are there any places that offer
scholarships or sliding scale fees for the struggling single parent?
Thanks for any advice. I've been wanting to connect into the Jewish
community since moving out here 2 years ago, but have always been
overwhelmed by all the choices! Any current break-downs would be most
Congregation Beth El has a great Jewish education program. Deb
Massey, the ed director, is just wonderful and has done a
tremendous job at building a great program. There is a family ed
program as well as a traditional after school program, which has
transportation from many of the berkeley public schools. Both the
Rabbi's, Rabbi Yoel Kahn and Rabbi Reuben Zellman, are vey
committed to the education, and the needs of the kids and their
In my experience, Beth El is great about financial assistance,
and making the necessary accommodations to insure that folks are
able to engage fully.
Happy Beth El Family
We are wondering what age people start sending their kids to Jewish
religious school. Our daughter is in 3rd grade, and we are
non-religious Jews, who do not belong to a temple. However, our
daughter attended Camp Kee Tov at Temple Beth El this summer and LOVED
it. We want her to have a Bat Mitzvah when she's older, so I'm
wondering if we should start now, or next year or..?. My husband
waited til 5th grade, and was behind, but caught up. Any words of
Culturally Jewish Mama
We were not practicing Jews at all, but started sending our
daughter to Hebrew school in 4th grade. She just recently had
her bat mitzvah, and it truly was wonderful. She was completely
prepared, I think 4th grade was a great time to start. I am
very glad we did it.
3rd grade is probably the lastest age to start religious school
to prepare for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. At our synagogue (Temple Beth
Hillel, Richmond) they have a pre-school rs program once a
month on Sunday morning, and then after that it's every Sunday
morning. When the kids are in 5th or so grade they start Hebrew
School in addition to RS to prepare for the Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.
Some synagogues require kids to be in RS for 2 years before
their B/B MItzvahs if you are going to be a member there. TBH
does unless the kids go to a Jewish Day School.
If you are interested in more info about the BEth Hillel RS
please contact me. good luck,
Hi Culturally Jewish Mama, Don't wait! Kids are already bonding
with each other in Hebrew school. A big part of religious
school, just like public school, is social. So you want her in
there making friends. Many synagogues go from once a week
sessions to twice a week right around third or fourth grade. So
the education is amping up. Call Beth El and see if you can
still get in for fall. They have a new Rabbi-Educator and
you'll want to go in and introduce yourselves. You'll need to
join the synagogue so you might as well get in there in time for
the High Holy Days and get to know the other parents and members.
510-848-3988 is their number.
Best of luck and shana tovah!
If you want more info feel free to call me
at Building Jewish Bridges, 510-663-8350
I think each temple has a different program. Our kids started
Religious School in Kindergarten. That is Sunday School. It's
been nice because the kids are ''growing up'' together with other
Jewish kids. In preparation for the Bar Mitzvah, we had to
start mid-week Hebrew School in 3rd grade and my kid HATES it.
My husband insists that he go because that is what we do in
order to have a Bar Mitzvah. My son likes being with his
Jewish friends, however, and since he has been going to
Religious School since Kindergarten, he knows this is the
drill. We belong to a temple in Walnut Creek, B'nai Tikvah,
and are very happy with the philosophy and programming.
3rd grade is a good time to start, particularly if she enjoyed
jewish summer camp. The point of religious school is to make
friends with other Jewish children, as well as the skills they
learn -- in most schools, the Jewish children can feel a little
odd, particularly if you celebrate any holidays, while religious
school gives them a peer group. We belong to Netivot Shalom, and
have enjoyed the religious school, and the families we've met.
Beth El might be the right religious school for your daughter
since she loved Kee Tov -- some of those kids are probably in the
If your daughter enjoyed camp @Beth El, you might consider sending her
now. She will enjoy religious school more if she knows some of the kids.
It is a
nice Temple, diverse, socially committed, & people seem sincere in their
observance (we are not members of Beth El-this is just an observation).
the point of a Bat Mitzvah for her if it is just a cram course to learn
portion & enough Hebrew to skim by? Learning about Judaism can be a
wonderful, life-long journey. Why not give her a ticket for the trip? I
someone who was kicked out of several religious school as a kid & learned
know (& love knowing) as an adult.
As a ''culturally Jewish family, we started our daughter in 1st
grade where they would read books together, do Jewish related
art projects, learn about the holidays, all in a fun way. Now
in 5th grade, she just started Hebrew lessons in prep for Bat
Mitzvah. (most other families started in 3rd or 4th) We love
our Temple. The religious school has programs for the real
little ones.(age 4??) Temple Beth Hillel is in Richmond (we
live in Berkeley) and is right off of the Hilltop exit on 80.
Besides the community being great, the religious school is once
a week on a Sunday (some months only 3x month). When I
researched some of the other Temples, I couldn't see putting my
daughter in a program where you have to sit in religious school
class 2x a week for a couple of hours each day, after sitting in
school all day. The Sunday program at Temple Beth Hillel is
perfect, for the amount of time spent, quality of
teachers/program and wonderful community. TBH is having a
special Rosh Hashanah Family Program and Religious School Open
House for parents and children (ages 4 and up) on Sunday
September 28th from 9:30 - 12:30 p.m. Come join us! You can
email me if you have any questions. Betty
We are looking for a Jewish Sunday school (preferably one that meets on Sundays
rather than during the week) which will introduce our son to Jewish values,
culture, and history in a group setting, but without a lot of focus on learning
how to pray, which really turned him off last time we tried this. We also
don't feel strongly about his learning to read Hebrew. We'd like this
experience to be able to culminate in a non-traditional bar mitzvah, e.g., a
talk or presentation he designs rather than the traditional reading a passage
in Hebrew. We live near Berkeley and would prefer something in our general
A Jewish Mom
is the place for you. It is a small congregation for
secular, humanistic Judaism. They have a Sunday school. Most
meetings take place at the Albany Community Center. Check them out
on line. Also, you can participate for free for a while to check
culturally Jewish atheist
Kindershule sounds like what you're seeking. It's a secular,
cultural Jewish school that meets every other Sunday morning in
Berkeley during the school year. The curriculum focuses on
stories, art, cooking, holidays, music & Yiddish. There are 3
classes for children in grades K-5 in this program run by Gerry
Tenney. Gerry also teaches a 2-year bar/bat mitzvah class. It is
definitely an alternative to the religious, synagogue experience.
My children went through the elementary program, one had a bat
mitzvah & the other is in the bar/bat mitzvah class now. The
program is wrapping up for the year but contact Gerry for more
info at gtenney at earthlink.net. I'll be happy to talk with you
further as well..
There is a gem of a Sunday School for ''Cultural'' Jews who want
to give their kids a sense of Jewish history, culture, and values,
in a secular setting. I think it could be just what you are
looking for. It is part of
Kol Hadash, a congregation that is
part of the national society for humanistic Judaism. Our children
(7 and 11) have been going for a few years and are having a very
positive experience. The teachers are really excellent and really
make it interactive and get the kids engaged. I think the best
testament is that my kids don't resist going which is saying a
lot. It also has a terrific non-traditional Bar/Bat Mitvah
program. Instead of focusing on learning Hebrew and reading from
the Torah, the kids, with the guidance of the teacher, research an
area related to Judaism that is also of interest to them and that
becomes the centerpiece of their presentation. The school also
only meets twice a month on Sunday mornings (from 9:30-11:30)
which is significantly less of a time commitment than traditional schools. The School
(along with the general congregation) meets at the Albany
Community Center on Marin Avenue in Albany. Please feel free to
email me if you would like to get more information or have
questions. I'd be happy to talk to you (or anyone else who is
interested). Kol Hadash also has a good web site that you can
check out - and it has info on the Sunday School. It's www.
kolhadash.org. The school is small right now but I think it's
mostly because most people don't know about it.
I too am a ''cultural Jew'' and would actually rather my child
learn ''Yiddish'' than ''Hebrew''. Before having a child, I
frequented Temble Beth El, Kahilla, Aquarium Minyon. And while I
enjoyed some aspects of each, when I had my daughter I didn't feel
it was the right match, especially for ''religious school''. I
especially didn't want my daughter to sit in a school setting 2
days per week, 2 hours at a shot after being in school all day.
So I found ''Kol Hadash'', which has ''religious school'' on
Sundays. They are a humanistic synagogue (doesn't believe in god
basically). Since I wasn't sure where I fit with that, I figured I'd
try. They do hebrew but not heavy. We didn't stay though because
I had a hard time with the school (if you want details you can
contact me) Then we joined Temple Beth Hillel in Richmond (I too
live in Berkeley) TBH is only a 10 minute drive. Their school is
on Sunday's starting with a beautiful (singing mostly) service for
the family and then the kids are off to their classes. They do talk about god,
but as the teacher and the rabaii (both who are great) have said,
god is whatever you make it to be, within you, in nature etc.
They do teach Hebrew for the mitzvah services but I would think
they would be open to a discussion with you regarding your wishes.
We love the Temple. Not too big, where you feel lost and not too
small where, everyone knows if you don't show up! We really like
the community alot. Very down to earth, all welcoming and my
daughter loves the school. If you'd like to know more, call me at
526-3266 or email me. Good luck. Betty
this page was last updated: Oct 22, 2011
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