Mission Statement of the Religious School
Jewish education is a life-long process. It is our responsibility to nurture and enhance each student’s commitment to Jewish identity, knowledge, and practice. We work to make the synagogue a “learning community,” in which the student feels a part of an extended family. Learning must lead to action in the Jewish and world communities, so that students see themselves as partners with God in repairing the world. We will help each student explore how to live their personal and communal life in consonance with these eternal Jewish values:
Our educational programs are designed to help people find personally meaningful ways to worship, participate in Jewish ritual and encounter God in their lives. A graduate of our religious school will be able to participate in Jewish worship services by comfortably reading prayers in Hebrew. Our programs not only familiarize students with the structural and conceptual aspects of Jewish worship but also help students explore the ways in which prayer can be meaningfully brought into their life. We teach a variety of ritual practice and explore the role of ritual in our life. Throughout our programs we encourage students to explore many different ways of relating to God and provide individuals with the language that will help them conduct their spiritual explorations.
Torah Study, Talmud Torah:
Our sacred texts also provide us with a variety of different models of relationship with God and each other. We will give our students an understanding of what our sacred texts are; a fundamental overview of themes, storylines and history derived from the texts; and the thirst to explore these texts fully throughout their lives and for meaning in their lives.
Social Justice, Tzedek:
Fostering Jewish values of social justice and tikkun olam, repairing the world through deeds of righteousness and loving-kindness, directs us to consider ever-increasing circles of social awareness, responsibility and action. Our educational programs provide opportunities for our students and their families to act on our Jewish values, inspiring engagement in social action and social advocacy, here, in Israel and around the world.
Our educational programs strive to facilitate the formation of community, as well as meet the needs of students as individuals. Learning takes place when each student feels safe emotionally, academically, socially, physically and spiritually. We foster in individuals and families a sense of belonging to a series of communities: the school; the temple; the local community; the national and global community; with an emphasis on the Jewish community and Israel. An examination of Jewish history provides insight into the development of our Jewish community.
At Temple Beth El we strive for a deep love and understanding of Judaism, inspiring participation in the Jewish community. We will give our students basic skills to foster a Jewish identity and provide a foundation for life-long learning. Graduates should see themselves as a link in a chain, connected not only to the past but also responsible for the door into the future.
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.