Mission Statement of the Religious School
(Adopted June 8, 2017)
Temple Beth El’s Religious School stands as an inclusive and welcoming environment that represents the heart of our synagogue. We strive to help our students build a strong Jewish identity and to foster a connection to God, the Temple Beth El community and to Am Yisrael, the Jewish people.
We view Jewish education as a life-long journey. To that end, our curriculum encompasses Jewish history and culture, Torah, appreciation for Israel and Jewish values. We teach prayer Hebrew and liturgy with the goal of enabling our students to participate in religious services anywhere in the world and to prepare them for all their life cycle events, from consecration through their bar/bat mitzvah and later, confirmation.
We utilize traditional and innovative teaching methods including text-based learning, music, art, small group projects, guest speakers, field trips and experiential education. We view our parents as our students’ primary educators and therefore seek to engage them as active participants through family education, Shabbat and holiday observances, as well as volunteer opportunities.
Our goal is to help our students cultivate a love of Jewish learning, an understanding of our shared heritage and to become the next generation of Jewish leaders.
Philosophy of Hebrew in our Religious School
At Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester we believe that Jewish learning is a lifelong endeavor. We also believe that Hebrew studies are an integral part of this endeavor.
The goal of Hebrew at Temple Beth El is fluent Siddur reading, an understanding of the key prayers in the Shabbat Morning Service, and a basic knowledge of selections from the Friday Evening Service. After completing our Hebrew program, our students will be able to go into any synagogue, anywhere in the world, be familiar with the prayers, and feel at home.
Our Hebrew curriculum, beginning in the third grade, is aimed at building Hebrew fluency and skills. We want to ensure that our children are ready to begin their preparations to become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah eight months before their scheduled date. And, even more importantly, we want to teach them to be active members and prayer leaders within the Jewish community. Therefore, our Hebrew curriculum prepares our children to become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah and teaches the prayers necessary to be active participants in religious services, at Temple Beth El and at synagogues throughout the world.
When the students have completed our Hebrew program they will be able to read the prayers fluently. They will understand the key words and roots, skills that will enable them to discuss the concept of each prayer. Students will feel a sense of comfort and familiarity with Jewish prayer and will be able to participate in the rituals and ceremonies of Jewish life.
The curriculum is focused on realistic, measurable objectives and takes into account that we have only one and one half hours a week for instruction. To supplement our weekly class time, we have created a structured, formal homework program that every student must complete to be successful in our program.
Because of the limited time we have to teach Hebrew, an integral part of our Hebrew program is the homework component. Hebrew assignments will focus on reading and they are to be completed two times each for ten minutes at a time or three times each week for five to seven minutes at a time. The assignments will be supplied by the school, and they must be completed with a parent whenever possible. We have created a format that makes it possible for every parent, regardless of their Hebrew ability, to assist their child in their homework.
At Temple Beth El we wish to train our students to be skilled, involved members of our community. We are teaching them Jewish values, and we instill in them a sense of belonging to a great people - Am Yisrael.
Our discipline policy is based on a set of beliefs that shape the way we respond to our students and help them to develop into responsible Jewish adults. We believe these principles are consistent with the Jewish values that we live by.
Principles of our Discipline Philosophy
1. Students are expected to behave in a way that exemplifies the values of derech eretz (good manners) and kavod (respect).
2. All students, even when they have made mistakes, deserve dignity and respect.
3. Students learn from living with the natural consequences of their actions. By allowing our students to live with the natural consequences of their actions, we send the message that they are capable of making decisions in their lives and learning from both their successes and mistakes.
4. Our role is to help provide appropriate, natural consequences, and to help our students to think through their decisions, so they will make even better choices in the future.
5. Parents are our partners in developing appropriate natural consequences and in encouraging our children to make good decisions. If at any point you feel your child has not been treated fairly or appropriately at religious school, you are encouraged to contact the teacher or to call Rabbi-Educator Maura Linzer.
6. If a student engages in unsafe behavior, or if they make it difficult for the teacher to teach or for others to learn, the following steps will be taken:
a. Expectations for appropriate behavior will be clearly communicated by the classroom teacher. If these expectations are not met, a natural consequence will be determined.
b. If inappropriate behavior persists, the teacher, the Rabbi-Educator, and the student will discuss the student’s behavior, encouraging him or her to make better and more appropriate decisions. Parents may be contacted at this point.
c. If the meeting of the student, teacher and Rabbi-Educator does not result in more appropriate behavior, the parents will be contacted by the teacher or Rabbi-Educator to enlist their help. A conference of the parent, teacher and Rabbi-Educator will be held.
d. Continuing occurrences of disruptive or troubling behavior may result in the student being permitted to return to class only if accompanied by a parent.
e. Finally, if deemed necessary, the Rabbi-Educator, the senior Rabbi and the congregation’s President have the authority to remove the student from religious school.
Cell Phone and Electronic Device Policy
So as not to disrupt the educational experience of our students, we ask and expect that all cell phones and other electronic devices be turned off during religious school hours. These devices should be kept in the students’ book bags. There may be some occasions when students will be asked to use their phones for research during class. In such cases, cell phone use will be monitored by the classroom teachers.
Unauthorized use of electronic devices will be handled as follows: the administration or authorized personnel may confiscate any device for the duration of religious school hours for a first offense. The device may be retrieved at the end of class by the student.
Subsequent offenses will require a parent or guardian to pick up the device from the religious school office.
If you need to get in touch with your child during religious school hours, please contact the religious school office 914-238-5641 or the main Temple office 914-238-3928.