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Bet Midrash Handbook 2013/2014 ~ 5774~

And on what does the future of the world rest? Not on great acts of heroism but on the breath of schoolchildren who are studying their tradition. ~Talmud

TABLE of CONTENTS Introduction – Who We Are, How and What We Teach


Educational Philosophy


Bet Midrash Goals


Core Values - Definitions and Essential Questions


Family Education




Policies of Conduct in the Classroom


Special Needs Program


Bet Midrash Schedule


Attendance Policy


Additional Important Information


To shape the moral imagination of a child is to shape the world. Chofetz Chaim


Introduction Who We Are Welcome to Bet Midrash! The Bnai Keshet staff is comprised of rabbis, professional administrators, and teaching faculty that are here to create the best educational and spiritual experience possible for you and your children. You may not know all our names yet so we try our best to wear name tags on a regular basis. Here's a list of who we are and how to contact us (to get contact information for a teacher, please ask Rabbi Ariann). All full-time staff can be reached at (973) 746-4889. Rabbi Elliott Tepperman, Senior Rabbi, Rabbi Ariann Weitzman, Assistant Rabbi and Director of Congregational Learning, Stuart Brown, Director of Operations, Nadia Christiansen, Asst. Director of Operations, Cindy Herman, Bet Midrash Admin. Asst., Our teachers: Jennifer Levine, Faculty Coordinator Lincoln Richman, Song Leader and Teens Lauren Kreisberg, Gan Diane Gilmore, Alef Karen Eilenberg, Bet and Zayin Gila Sherry, Gimmel Dina Bernheim, Gimmel Ann Krauser, Dalet Yael Rahamim, Dalet Shoshanna Hadef, Hay and Teens Wendy Gibilisco, Hay Joanna Perlman, Vav Sarah Emanuel, Vav and Rosh Hodesh Peter Herbst, Zayin Justin Emanuel, Special Needs Aide How and What We Teach Through family education programs, congregational education programs, holiday celebrations, and parental involvement with homework, we show our students that Jewish living and learning are lifelong pursuits. Parent interest and involvement is encouraged and appreciated. As Reconstructionist Jews we believe that simply learning the material is not enough—students must make Judaism their own by exploring how it is relevant in their own lives. Through music, art, role playing, drama, 3

group work and creative play, we strive to actively involve students in their learning and make them partners in their own Jewish education. We recognize that different students learn in different ways. Educational theory teaches us that each of us has our own intelligences—our own ways of leaning and understanding. Our curriculum strives to include opportunities for all types of learners—from those that learn best through hands-on activities, to those who learn best through discussion and creative writing. We value questions over answers. As Reconstructionist Jews we encourage students to ask questions—even those that may not have easy answers. From “What do I believe about God?” to “Is the Torah true?” our students are encouraged to explore their own beliefs while integrating their secular and religious worlds. Though we teach our students the basic information that provides simple answers, we encourage them to use that information, that knowledge to ask the difficult questions of our tradition. At its most basic level, our curriculum strives to enable students to live active, educated Jewish lives. To this end, our curriculum includes such topics as:           

Jewish celebrations and holidays including lifecycle events Jewish sacred texts including Torah, Prophets, Writings, Talmud and Midrash The weekly Torah Portion State of Israel Klal Yisrael (the whole Jewish Community) Major periods in Jewish History including Holocaust Hebrew Decoding, basic prayer translation, conversational Hebrew, and exposure to early rabbinic Hebrew Shabbat morning Prayer Service, including its history and meaning Mitzvot (commandments) and Jewish rituals from a Reconstructionist Jewish perspective Jewish Ethics and Values (Middot) Tikkun Olam – Social Action/Service Learning

However, we hope our students go far beyond basic knowledge of these subject matters. Our curriculum encourages students to explore their own beliefs in light of their learning, to grasp for deeper understanding of our tradition and history, and to enable them to truly be “Israel” – the ones who wrestle with God.


Educational Philosophy Bnai Keshet is affiliated with the Jewish Reconstructionist Movement/Reconstructionist Rabbinical College ( The synagogue’s Youth Bet Midrash serves children ages three through post-bnai mitzvah. Educational Goals Bnai Keshet’s Bet Midrash strives to achieve the goals set forth for Reconstructionist Schools. These goals call upon congregations, havurot, schools, and families, and the wider Jewish community to join together in providing educational experiences that help(s): 

Students recognize that the Jewish people’s experience of God, Torah and what it means to be Jewish has changed and grown throughout history.

Encourage active, egalitarian participation in the Jewish community.

Present Torah - a record of human encounters with the divine – as the ongoing, creative, and sacred search for meaning in life.

Students focus on Hebrew as the holy language uniting all Jews in prayer.

Students recognize praying, participation in ritual and text study as expressive modes of Jewish spirituality that can shape Jewish lives.

Students understand the concept of mitzvah as deeds of social justice and acts of loving kindness and the perpetuation of Jewish spiritual lives.

Draw students of all ages into caring, committed, and knowledgeable relationships with the land and the people of Israel.

Students seek to understand the human spirit that lies behind diverse Jewish understandings (concepts, interpretations) of God and encourage individuals to reflect on the meaning of godliness in their own lives.


Bet Midrash Goals Provide opportunities and motivation for all families to become involved in the development of their Jewish identity and practice through our innovative family education program, adult learning and through celebration throughout the year. Understand God as both anchor and root of our Jewish value system, as well as a personal force that facilitates the emergence of the godliness in each of us. Create a learning community that mirrors the values of our congregation and ensures a place of physical and emotional safety, within which we learn to appreciate both our differences and similarities. Encourage a spirit of class cooperation and togetherness through organized classroom activities. Teach students to meaningfully participate in prayer services and celebrations of Jewish holidays in the home, synagogue, and community. Understand and actively participate in the recitation of the blessings, prayers, songs, and customs relevant to Shabbat and the Jewish holidays throughout the year. Recognize and appreciate the significance of life cycle events as statements of Jewish belonging and human development. Develop student's skills in the fluent reading and understanding of Hebrew prayers and blessings as part of t’fillah (prayer). Offer opportunities for creative and adaptive prayer that help students see themselves as active participants in worship. Experience and act upon the Jewish values of tzedakah, gemilut hasadim (acts of loving kindness), kedusha (holy/special), and Derech Eretz (correct behavior). Guide students to recognize that Tikkun Olam (repairing our world) is each person’s responsibility in a very real and active way. Engage our students in the rich tradition of Jewish cultural arts, including dance, art, and music. Facilitate both collective and individual expression of our spiritual nature through these mediums. Develop an understanding of our origins, our development as a people, and our place in world history, as well as a basic vocabulary for key terms and names in Jewish history. Develop a feeling of oneness between Jews in our local community, our nation, and the world. Foster links of knowledge and commitment that will bind students to the Jewish homeland in Israel. In support of these goals Bnai Keshet's Bet Midrash strives to provide a challenging, caring, and supportive learning environment. We are dedicated to honest, intellectual inquiry combined with faithfulness to our tradition. We have established a set of six core values, values of spiritual peoplehood, central to Reconstructionist Judaism and our congregation. These values inform our curriculum. “What do we want our children to know, to be curious about, and to be active questioners about when they have finished their school years?”


Core Values – Definitions and Essential Questions

Derech Eretz (translated as “character” or “manners”) is acting with kavod – consideration, rachamim – compassion, and hesed - kindness to one’s fellow human beings, and in so doing, expressing our faith that we are all created b’tzelem elohim, in the divine image. Essential Questions: 1. What are our responsibilities to our friends, neighbors, and selves as individuals and as a Jews? 2. What are various expressions of Derech Eretz we find in our community? 3. What are opportunities through our days and years for expressing Derech Eretz? 4. What is the impact on the community of expressions of Derech Eretz? 5. How have the texts of the Jewish people guided us in our quest for goodness? 6. How do we know when we are acting with Derech Eretz?

Hiddur Mitzvah is the process of enhancing practice or adding dignity, beauty and splendor to the mitzvot and sancta of the Jewish people. (Sancta are the events, places, or objects that belong to a people; one has taken as his/her own.) Essential Questions: 1. How do symbols help us to express concepts and/or feelings we could not otherwise articulate? 2. How does hiddur mitzvah add kavannah (intention) to the performance of mitzvot? 3. How can we continue to add this element of hiddur to the deeds we perform, and the moments we hold sacred, as Jews? 4. How do we promote personal and communal artistic expressions (music, dance, drama, arts, etc.) in relation to the evolving set of Jewish symbols and objects? 5. How do the objects passed from generation to generation help in the preservation of collective memory?


Hochma is seeking wisdom through the history and texts of the Jewish people and of humanity. It

embodies the ability to infer connections between various areas of content and context. A person with Hochma is a continuous learner, actively questioning and seeking out additional information, and adding to their knowledge through discussion and debate. This learning informs their everyday actions. Essential Questions: 1. What are the ways of learning and teaching that the Jewish people have traditionally employed? 2. As Reconstructionist Jews how do we learn from and contribute to the evolution of Jewish knowledge? 3. What can we learn from our texts and other sources about various concepts of God? What can we learn from our texts and other sources about what it means to be a human being? How can we incorporate this knowledge into our daily lives? 4. How can we apply or use our Hochma to understand and deal with what’s happening in our world? What have we learned that we should take with us into the future? 5. What can we learn from literature and other fictional sources (e.g., film, art, drama, etc.) about who we are as Jews, and how others might view us? 6. How can we better understand other religions and views and help others understand ours? 7. How do we integrate the understandings of science with the teachings of our tradition?

Klal Yisrael meaning “the whole Jewish community,” is used to communicate the value of unity. It is our

sense of connectedness to one another, to our family and to the Jewish people. We are linked together through our history, values, and traditions. This connectedness transcends our differences, leading to the realization that we are all beneficiaries of the same past even though we have chosen to use our inheritance in different ways. Essential Questions: 1. What has united the Jewish people throughout history? What unites us today? 2. How is our family’s ways of being Jewish similar and different from other Jewish families? How do demonstrate the value of diversity of thoughts and deeds within the Jewish community? 3. How does our Bnai Keshet community model our commitment to shared values, principles and spiritual beliefs, as well as diversity and individuality? 4. What are various ways one can contribute to the Jewish community? 5. How do we balance our responsibility to the Jewish community and the larger community? 6. What are the challenges to Klal Yisrael today? How might we build a more meaningfully connected Jewish people? 8

7. What is the role of the land of Israel and the modern state of Israel in the larger Jewish community?

Kedusha is the process of being more fully aware of the Divine within each human being and in the

natural world. The root of the word connotes a sense of that which is separate, dedicated or set apart. We also work to weave kedusha into the fabric of everyday life remaining committed to the idea that each of us is created b’tzelem elohim (in the image of God). Essential Questions: 1. How have the Jewish people’s ideas and expressions of kedusha evolved throughout our history? 2. How have traditional and contemporary texts guided us in our quest for kedusha? 3. How do we create time and space dedicated to kedusha in our daily lives? 4. How does our recognition that all human beings are created b’tzelem elohim (in the image of God), affect our interpersonal relationships? 5. What are the ways our concepts of God are related to our understanding of kedusha? 6. What role might prayer play in fostering an awareness of kedusha?

Tikkun Olam (“repairing the world”) is the notion that the Jewish people are directed to improve an

imperfect, fractured world through good deeds, so that human relations more closely resemble the divine attributes of justice (tzedek), compassion (hesed) and peace (shalom). Essential Questions: 1. How has the historical Jewish experience of slavery and oppression shaped the Jewish people’s worldview and its commitment to social justice? 2. How do traditional and contemporary texts provide us with vision of a “repaired” world? 3. Our imperfect world reflects unnecessary conflict between individuals and groups of people. In a “repaired world,” how might these relationships look different? 4. What are we obligated to do in order to bring about “Tikkun”? Does our daily life accurately represent the fulfillment of these obligations? 5. What are the interconnectedness of Tikkun Olam and the values of Kedusha, Derech Eretz, Hochma, Klal Yisrael and Hiddur Mitzvah? How might these overarching Jewish values be linked to address issues of social justice, war and peace, and the environment in the many communities within which we live?


Family Education When you teach your child you teach your child’s child. ~Talmud

Bnai Keshet's Innovative Family Education Program, taught by our rabbis, makes Jewish learning come alive for our students and their parents. Jewish education is about more than knowledge; it is about instilling in our future generations the understanding that Judaism is something we live and celebrate in every aspect of our lives. Enduring memories are created through our family experiential education program. Family education begins as soon as children enter our educational program, beginning with Tot Shabbat. For students in Gan (kindergarten) through Zayin, Friday night experiences in the synagogue create gradelevel community and help parents and students build the skills of Jewish living. Beginning in Kitah Gimmel (third grade) and continuing through Kitah Zayin (seventh grade) our Family Education program is themebased on the Reconstructionist Values of Spiritual Peoplehood.

Gimmel, 3rd grade: Jewish Symbols and Hiddur Mitzvah (beautifying and sanctifying the commandments) In the Gimmel year, students and parents will spend time exploring a variety of Jewish symbols. We also investigate how the dynamic process of adding hiddur (aesthetic beauty) to the performance of mitzvot has shaped aspects of Jewish tradition. Together we will have practical interaction with mitzvot and will assess our own capacity for adding hiddur to the performance of ritual mitzvot.

Dalet, 4th grade: Kedusha (special/unique/holy) What does it mean to be a good person and a good Jew? The focus of the Dalet year is Kedusha. Kedusha is often translated as holiness, but a more accurate translation (i.e. closer to the Hebrew intent of the root kuf-Dalet-shin) and a more functional definition would be "that which is special or unique." Students and parents will explore questions about the nature and forms of Kedusha in their own lives and the place of God in understanding the nature of Kedusha.

Hey, 5th grade: Tzionut ~ Klal Yisrael (the whole Jewish Community) During this year we explore the nature of Jewish nationhood and our connection to the land and State of Israel. Students and parents look at the sources and motives for the Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel and delve into how this attachment has been expressed in classical Jewish sources throughout centuries of exile leading to the creation of the modern State of Israel. We will also investigate and reflect on challenges facing the State of Israel and our own relationship to this unique place as Jews.

Vav, 6th grade: Tikkun Olam (to repair the world) Tikkun Olam, originally a concept in the Kabbalah, translates "to repair the world." Students and parents will explore classical and modern Jewish sources and ideas on social responsibility, social action, and justice. In this very hands-on course, we will engage in the practical work of "repairing the world." The course will culminate with a presentation and celebration of each family's Tikkun Olam project.

Zayin, 7th grade: Hochma (wisdom)

At the doorway to Jewish adulthood, students will explore their personal connections to all they’ve been taught. Zayin students are actively preparing for their Bnai Mitzvah, and with their families, engage in the study of Jewish texts using


traditional processes and sources to derive modern meanings. Families learn how to write D'vrei Torah (commentaries on the Torah) and will work on preparing an original D'var Torah for the upcoming Bat or Bar Mitzvah. Curriculum This curriculum was created and compiled to reflect that we are each created B’tzelem Elohim, in the divine image. Just as important as the fundamentals of Hebrew reading, ritual, Torah and Israel are the fundamentals of Derech Eretz. Our goal is to build upon both these elements to develop within our children the skills to lead fulfilling Jewish lives intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Middot (values) are the lenses through which we study, experience and discover Hebrew, History, Holidays, Israel and Torah. We seek ways to embody the Jewish Reconstructionist values of spiritual peoplehood, creating connections that strengthen our community. Each grade will have a different middah/middot which will inform their studies for the year. Jewish prayers and blessings help us express spiritual thoughts and feelings, connect us to God and Klal Yisrael, and to create meaning for our lives as they guide us through our daily life. Fluency and comprehension of prayer is critical for the full participation in Jewish practice. Prayers are taught both experientially and in the classroom. This learning includes participation in ageappropriate minyanim, exercises for basic Hebrew reading, chanting and vocabulary, activities geared toward developing a deeper understanding of the prayer, and self-expression through art, writing, music and drama. Hebrew Curriculum At Bnai Keshet we highlight Hebrew as the language of the Jewish People and place strong emphasis on learning Hebrew as the doorway to our prayers. Although we do not have nearly enough time to teach a comprehensive spoken Hebrew curriculum, we treat Hebrew as the living language of our people, the language of Jewish ideas through history as well as the language of the state of Israel. Our Hebrew curriculum focuses on the skills of modern and rabbinic Hebrew to enhance and illuminate the prayer Hebrew our students will be exposed to through children's services and in synagogue as adults. Rather than spend most of our classroom time on rote recitation of prayers, we follow the most up-to-date research on prayer learning which emphasizes that prayer is learned best in the context of meaningful and engaging services contextualized by learning prayer concepts, reading skills, and key phrases in the classroom. Jewish prayers and blessings help us express spiritual thoughts and feelings, connect us to God and Klal Yisrael, and help us to create meaning for our lives as they guide us on our life’s journey. Fluency and comprehension of prayer is critical for the full participation in Jewish practice. Students learn basic blessings and prayers as soon as they begin their education in our holiday workshop Pre-K (3’s & 4’s) program. Beginning in Kitah Bet students are taught letter and sound recognition in addition to the blessings and prayers indicated below. In Kitah Gimmel (3rd grade) our students are taught to fluently decode. Students must be able to decode fluently prior to entering Kitah Dalet (4th grade) or beyond. Exceptions are made for students with special needs. The skills necessary for Hebrew decoding and fluency can not be taught in just a few hours each week. Reinforcement at home is necessary. Please encourage your child to practice his/her Hebrew reading on a 11

regular basis. Homework will be given in Hebrew classes, please make a point to read with your child at home several times a week. Holiday Curriculum Over three years, the students in our Gan, Alef and Bet grades will be exposed to each of the chaggim (holidays) through a unique lens ~ birthdays, structures and foods. We begin with an “Entry Unit”, an exploration of something concrete and in the life of young children, laying the groundwork for children to discover and experience Jewish holidays. The students will begin to connect to Jewish tradition and identity and see the stories of the chaggim as inspiration for acts of loving kindness, Gemilut Hassadim, and Tikkun Olam, to help make the world one of love and peace. In Kitot Gimmel – Zayin the students will build on their basic knowledge and prepare for more abstract ideas. Values corresponding to the value of their “year” will be threaded through holiday teaching and the holidays, chaggim, will be used to discuss modern values. The students will begin to see Jewish observance as an ongoing evolution of meaning. They will draw thematic connections between the chaggim, thereby beginning the process of understanding them as a continuum rather than isolated celebrations. The students will understand that chaggim provide different and unique ways in which we become God’s partners in fixing the world, allowing everything and everyone to reach its potential, and help to complete the act of Creation. Curriculum by Grade Pre-K Through the lens of Ahavah (love) and B’tzelem Elohim (created in the divine image) students will be introduced to Jewish Holidays including Shabbat throughout the year, as well as Jewish ways of being in the world. Activities will include: art, drama, music, and movement. Students will be introduced to Hebrew vocabulary as it relates to the topics they are learning. In preparation for prayer participation students will learn to recite the following: Sh’ma, Motzi, Kiddush, and Candle-lighting blessings. Resource Materials: What’s Jewish About Butterflies Head Start on Holidays – A.R.E. Publishing, Inc. Jewish Everyday - A.R.E. Publishing, Inc.

Kitot Gan and Alef Through the lens of brit (covenant) and ma’asey b’reishit (appreciation & wonder of our world) students will discover the wonder and variety of God’s world. The stories and teachings of Abraham, Rebecca, Jacob & Esau and Joseph will be explored. Students will learn the basic prayers and blessings we recite to communicate with God in our everyday life. Through the lens of mishpacha (family), sh'lom bayit (peace in the


house) and Klal Yisrael (all the Jewish people) students will explore Bible stories and heroes and the middot, Jewish values drawn from each. In preparation for prayer participation students will learn to recite the following: Modeh/ah Ani, Yom Tov candle lighting, Hanukah candle lighting, and Mah Nishtanah – 1st line. Holidays will be presented through symbols, values, concepts and customs connected to each holiday. Each year will focus on different holidays based on the connecting themes of birthdays, structures, and food. In preparation for prayer participation students will learn to recite the following: Borei Pri Ha Etz, Borei Pri Ha Adamah, La-asok B’Divrei Torah, Mah Nishtanah 1st answer. Students will be introduced to Hebrew vocabulary as it relates to the topics they are learning. Resource Materials: Whole School Israel (symbols) - Torah Aura Productions Fingerprints: Discovering Jewish Life - Jewish Education Center of Cleveland Let’s Discover God – Behrman House Teach Me Torah – sets 1 and 2 - Behrman House What’s Jewish About Butterflies, Chapters 17 & 19 – A.R.E. Publishing, Inc.

Kitah Bet ~

Through the lens of hoda’ah (thankfulness) and hazan et hakol (feeding everyone) students will explore the Bible stories of Miriam and Moses, Samson, Ruth and Naomi, David and Goliath, Solomon and Jonah. Holidays will be presented through symbols, values, concepts and customs connected to each holiday. Students will learn the blessings and key vocabulary of each holiday. Students engage in regular Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) work with Toni's Kitchen, BK's neighbor, collecting canned and dry goods and bringing them to Toni's Kitchen, making place mats for their guests, and stocking shelves. Thankfulness and an appreciation of the godly act of taking care of the hungry are major foci of the middot (values) curriculum for Kitah Bet. Students will learn the names and sounds of the letters of the Alef-Bet. Students also learn conversational Hebrew through the Chalav u'dvash program and reinforcement through the rest of their curriculum. Students will learn about the symbols and natural geography of Israel. In preparation for prayer participation students will learn to recite the following: Shechiyanu, Hanukah Blessing #2, Borei Minei Mizonot, SheHaKol Niyeyeh Bdvaro, Havdalah blessings: Bisamin & HaAish, Sukkot blessings: BaShav Sukkah, Al Nitilat Lulav, and the 2nd answer of the Mah Nishtana.


Bet Resources: Let’s Discover Alef Bet - Behrman House My Jewish Year - Behrman House Whole School Israel (food) - Torah Aura Productions Let’s Discover the Bible - Behrman House Fingerprints: Discovering Jewish Life - Jewish Education Center of Cleveland (JECC) What’s Jewish About Butterflies, Chapters 1, 4 & 32 – A.R.E. Publishing, Inc.

Kitah Gimmel ~ Through the lens of hiddur mitzvah, students will students will explore mitzvot, middot (values) and midrashim (stories from the rabbis) thinking critically about right and wrong, the importance of the choices they make and the role Judaism in their lives. Simchat Torah, Shabbat, Rosh Hodesh, Shavuot will be the holidays studied in depth, focusing on the unifying theme of the cycles of Jewish life. Other holidays will be studied as ‘bridge’ holidays. They will explore the Bible from Creation to the Exodus. Through key Hebrew words and phrases, students will participate in Biblical dialogue by reviewing classical interpretations and creating midrashim of their own. Through a journey through the state of Israel, students will learn to master Hebrew Language decoding skills, with an emphasis on prayer words, conversational phrases and the performance of short prayers. Students will become connected to Israel through Hebrew. Using Classroom Workbooks, students will learn to write Hebrew. In preparation for prayer participation students will learn to recite the following: Mah Tovu -1st line, Elohai Nishama - 1st line, Esa Enai, Mah Nishtanah – 3rd & 4th answer.

Gimmel Resources: Zman Likro, Zman Litfilah: Berachot– Behrman House A Kid’s Mensch Handbook – Step by Step to a Lifetime of Jewish Values – Behrman House The Cycles of Jewish Life – Jewish Education Center of Cleveland Explorers Bible – Behrman House - From Creation to the Exodus


Kitah Dalet ~ Through the lens of Kedusha, students will study Bible, history, and God. Students will be introduced to Jewish history, from Abraham to the sages, which will provide a purposeful study of the Jewish past. They will explore the Bible from Sinai to the nation of Israel. Through key Hebrew words and phrases, students will participate in Biblical dialogue by reviewing classical interpretations and creating midrashim of their own. Through twelve questions and stories and their experience of God in the world children will wrestle, question, reflect and share their ideas and beliefs in and of God. High Holidays, Sukkot, Tu B’Shevat and Purim will be the holidays studied in depth, focusing on the unifying theme of responsibility. Other holidays will be studied as ‘bridge’ holidays. The students will study the following prayers: Barchu, Yotzer Or, Sh'ma, V’Ahavata, MiChamocha, Torah Blessings. Students will also study the complete Hebrew text of Mah Nishtanah.

Dalet Resources: We Will Do and We Will Listen – Jewish Education Center of Cleveland (JECC) I Have Some Questions About God – Torah Aura Productions Explorers Bible – Behrman House Tricks of Translating - Torah Aura Productions Zman Litfilah: Sh'ma - Behrman House

Kitah Hay ~ Through the lens of Klal Yisrael, students will study modern Israel, the communities in they are a part, and hear first-hand stories of varied Jewish experiences from around the globe. Students will take a virtual tour to Israel, ‘visiting’ places including the Negev, Tel Aviv and the Old City of Jerusalem. They will float on the Dead Sea, climb Masada and touch the Kotel, experiencing Israel first hand from the classroom. Through the study of the Bible—the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings— students will discover what it means to be free, what it means to be a people in its own land, and what it means to walk in God’s ways. The students will study Klal Yisrael and the meaning of community as it grows from local to Jewish to global and what our responsibilities are to each. They will also study famous Jews from varying backgrounds who each personify a unique Jewish value. Students will get a ‘taste’ of different Shabbat customs from around the world through the many kinds of foods eaten in different cultures. Congregants from diverse backgrounds will come to visit the class to talk about their personal Jewish experiences, including what it meant to be Jewish in their home countries, different foods that were eaten to celebrate holidays, the process of becoming Jewish as an adult (for converts), and how we are all Klal Yisrael.


Pesach, Lag B’Omer and Yom Ha’atzmaut will be the holidays studied in depth, focusing on the unifying theme of freedom. Other holidays will be studied as ‘bridge’ holidays. The students will study the following prayers: Avot v’Imot, G’vurot, Kedusha, Sim Shalom, Oseh Shalom, Hatikvah

Hay Resources: Artzeinu – Torah Aura Productions Klal Yisrael, Our Jewish Community – Behrman House Jewish Heroes, Jewish Values, chapters 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 – Behrman House Proclaim Freedom Throughout the Land – (Holiday) JECC A Child’s Bible, Lessons from the Prophets and Writings – Behrman House Zman Litfilah: Amidah - Behrman House

Kitah Vav ~ Looking through the lens of Tikkun Olam students will study Parshat Hashavua (the Torah portion of the week) emphasizing mitzvot, which they can incorporate into their daily lives. Social justice will be taught through the lessons we learn from our Prophets, paying particular attention to Amos, Deborah, Miriam, Nathan, and Rehav. The students will learn about the different levels of tzedakah through the rungs of Maimonides’ ladder. The study of Jewish lifecycle will be explored through, prayers, rituals and vocabulary along with the values it actualizes, and of the way it connects God and Judaism to real life experiences. Hebrew/Prayer – The students will study the following prayers, experientially and in the classroom: Birkat HaMazon, Prayers around taking out the Torah and putting it away, V’shamru, Mourner’s Kaddish, Birchot Haftarah, Hashkivenu In addition, the students will learn Torah Trope in optional Monday night chuggim.

Vav Resources: The Circle of Jewish Life – Torah Aura Productions Zot ha-Torah - Torah Aura Productions What’s in the Prophets? - Torah Aura Productions Miriam, Deborah, Nathan, Rehav, Amos - Torah Aura Productions Green Synagogues Congregational School Curriculum - COEJL Rambam’s Rungs - Torah Aura Productions Jewish Heroes, Jewish Values, chapter four – Behrman House Kol Haneshamah Siddur


Kitah Zayin ~ Looking through the lens of hochma (wisdom) students will study Jewish values and the people that personify them, both Biblical and modern. Students will be presented with real life ethical dilemmas and learn how to resolve them Jewishly. Jewish History will be studied from the destruction of the Second Temple to contemporary Jewish life in America. The Holocaust will be studied through literature, writing exercises, and film. Our study of the Holocaust builds on what students have learned in the public schools and broaches the question of what the Holocaust means specifically for us as Jewish people. Students will study the four major branches of Judaism with a focus on Reconstructionist Judaism and the teachings of Mordecai Kaplan. The High Holidays will be studied through the lens of t’shuva (turning). The true story of Hanukkah will be presented as a social struggle between two different groups of Jews. The students will learn to read, chant and have an understanding of the following prayers from the Shabbat morning service: Shochen Ad, Aleynu, Ein Keloheinu, El Adon, Yishtabah, (Full) Kaddish, Students in Kitah Zayin will participate in a field trip to New York's Lower East Side and Shearith Israel, the Spanish/Portuguese Synagogue in NYC. Hochma is seeking wisdom through the history and texts of the Jewish people and of humanity. It embodies the ability to infer connections between various areas of content and context. A person with hochma is a continuous learner, actively questioning and seeking out additional information, and adding to their knowledge through discussion and debate. This learning informs their everyday actions. What essential questions will guide or focus the teaching and learning?  What are the ways of learning and teaching that the Jewish people have traditionally employed?  As Reconstructionist Jews how do we learn from and contribute to the evolution of Jewish knowledge?  What can we learn from our texts and other sources about various concepts of God and of being a human being? How can we incorporate this knowledge into our daily lives?  How can we learn from literature and other fictional sources (e.g., film, art, drama, etc.) about who we are as Jews, and how others might view us?  How can we better understand other religions and views and help others to understand ours?  How do we integrate the understandings of science with the teachings of our tradition? Zayin Materials: Challenge and Change – Behrman House Count Me In – Chapters 7, 11 - Torah Aura Productions Coming of Age - Museum of Jewish Heritage, NYC Daring to Resist – Jewish Defiance in the Holocaust – Museum of Jewish Heritage 17

Did Darth Vader Repent? - Torah Aura Productions Extraordinary Jews, Staging Their Lives – A.R.E. Publishing Jewish Heroes, Jewish Values, chapters 8, 12 – Behrman House Kol Haneshama – Reconstructionist Prayerbook (Siddur) Making a Difference, Chapter 4 – Behrman House Mordecai Kaplan – Torah Aura Productions The True Story of Hanukah - Torah Aura Productions You Be the Judge – Behrman House


Policies of Conduct in the Classroom One of our primary goals in our classrooms is to build community. Community can only be built when everyone is present, when everyone feels safe and when everyone is comfortable. We recognize that appropriate student behavior depends to a significant degree upon stimulating class activities, a spiritual environment which welcomes and respects students, a physical environment that is clean and orderly, and a method of discipline that acknowledges positive behavior. Appropriate support from parents, including modeling the types of Jewish observance that are considered important within each family as well as expected and acceptable behaviors of each child is also helpful in maintaining appropriate student behavior. We recognize that the ultimate decision to behave in an appropriate manner lies with each student. Please print out and review Bnai Keshet’s Discipline Policy and the Code of Behavior, as age appropriate, with your child. Bnai Keshet’s Discipline Policy As a Jewish Religious School, it is important to us at Bnai Keshet that teachings of Judaism provide the basic underlying philosophical premise of our discipline policy. We see discipline as part of the education process – not separate from it. At Bnai Keshet, we strive to guide children to develop appropriate selfdiscipline and social skills based on the following Jewish understandings: 1. A place of learning is a special place. Respect and care for one’s school is an important value. 2. Each individual is created B’tzelem Elohim (in God’s image). Each individual deserves respect, kindness, compassion, and understanding. 3. Words are powerful. We can use words to heal and to comfort or to hurt and destroy. 4. We have all been “strangers in a strange land”. We are obligated to welcome the stranger and to care for others. 5. The world was created with a balance of justice and compassion. In dealing with each other we, too, must balance these values. 6. Each individual is responsible for his/her own actions. Each person contains within him or herself the potential for growth and change. 7. We can all do t’shuvah (change). We can acknowledge the mistakes we make apologize for those mistakes, make a sincere commitment to try and do better in the future, and then act on our commitment.


Consistent with this philosophy, the following expectations and responsibilities will apply. The Teaching Faculty and the Director of Congregational Learning are responsible for:      

Treating all students with dignity, compassion, and respect Providing a safe learning environment Providing clear behavioral expectations Promoting the development of positive behavior Providing consistent consequences and motivating students toward improved behavior Informing parents and students of discipline concerns in a timely fashion

Parents are responsible for:      

Working with the school and the child in assisting them to understand and comply with school behavior expectations. Allowing their children to be responsible for their own actions Encouraging their children to solve their own problems Encouraging their children to include, not exclude their classmates Communicating any discipline concerns to the classroom teacher Reinforcing a Jewish philosophy of behavior inside and outside of Bnai Keshet

Students are responsible for:     

Their own actions Speaking and acting respectfully to adults and peers Conducting themselves in a way that does not interfere with the classroom learning process or with the rights of others Respecting the physical space of peers and adults Respecting and caring for the school property and the property of others

All students need some guidance regarding decisions and consequences. In developing appropriate self-discipline and social skills, the following types of behaviors will require disciplinary action. Behaviors usually handled by classroom teachers include:  Excluding people  Not sharing or taking turns  Verbally harassing others including threatening language, put-down statements, or foul language  Occasionally disruptive behavior in class; i.e. talking excessively  Leaving the class or group without permission Note: a child who engages in habitual misbehavior of these types will be referred for further intervention by the Director of Congregational Learning.


Behaviors handled by the Director of Congregational Learning include:      

Any physical abuse of students or teachers including hitting, kicking, biting, spitting Throwing objects such as pencils, books, backpacks, rocks, snowballs Direct disobedience or willful disrespect of teachers or other adults Threatening or abusive language and/or gestures Damaging or stealing school property or the property of others Possession of tobacco, drugs, weapons or dangerous objects

In order to help students learn appropriate behavior, the following procedures may be followed if behavior problems continue despite constructive communication from the teacher:     

Removal from the classroom to the office of the Director of Congregational Learning The teacher and/or Director of Congregational Learning will talk to the student privately The teacher and/or Director of Congregational Learning will notify the parents If disruptive behavior is extreme or is repeated, the Director of Congregational Learning will again notify the parents - student will be required to write an essay on the material/subjects taught during the class period If, after the above procedures have been followed, the Director of Congregational Learning still has concerns about a student’s behavior, a formal conference will be held that may include the teacher, student, parent, Director of Congregational Learning, and Vice President of Education. At this conference, a behavior contract will be agreed upon. It is expected that parents will support the student in the effort to uphold such a contract.

The following consequences may be assigned in the context of a behavioral contract:     

Parental witness – student must come to class accompanied by parent Suspension – an independent project must be completed for the student to return to school Expulsion – in consultation with the Rabbi(s) and the Vice President of Education Restitution (monetary and/or through service) Postponement of Bnai Mitzvah

Postponement of a Bar/t Mitzvah will be at the discretion and mutual agreement of the Director of Congregational Learning, the Rabbis, and the Vice President of Education. All measures will be taken (as outlined above) to avoid such a consequence. It is our policy and our belief that preparing for a Bar/t Mitzvah is not simply a matter of preparing a student to help lead the service and read his or her Torah portion in Hebrew. A student should show his readiness not just academically but by upholding in the classroom and in the synagogue the core value of Derech Eretz, of respect and kindness, that are central to our community. If a student has a behavioral contract, the contract must be upheld for the Bar/t Mitzvah date to remain in place. In the case that a family wishes to appeal the imposition of a disciplinary consequence, the family may direct an appeal to the Vice President of Education.


Special Needs Program Bnai Keshet is diligently working to educate each child according to his/her needs. The belief in the equal worth of all its members, with or without special needs is paramount. That belief underscores the school’s mission of, whenever possible, educating all of our children within our community, regardless of their level of ability. Our Director of Congregational Learning works closely with a mentor from MetrowestABLE ( through Matan ( to provide the best learning opportunities for all of our children. Information Sharing and Confidentiality. Information about individual needs is critical to best serve students with differing learning styles. Accordingly, parents of students who are entering the school with identified special needs must, prior to the start of the school year, familiarize the Director of Congregational Learning with the student’s needs and share relevant information such as an IEP, 504, and/or reports written by professionals working with the student. It is equally important that we have written/oral information from the parent, as they may be the best advocate and source of information on their child’s needs and abilities. This may be done through written notice or a phone call to the Director of Congregational Learning. We recognize that confidentiality is of the utmost importance. Therefore, the information provided to the Director of Congregational Learning will be kept strictly confidential and will be shared only with the student’s teacher(s) or other individuals that may come in direct contact with your child as needed. With permission, the Director of Congregational Learning may consult with the Senior Rabbi. The Director of Congregational Learning will meet individually with the student and his/her parent(s) to assess the student, and how we at Bnai Keshet, may be able to serve the child’s needs. We understand the great need for partnership between the school and the parents through the entire process. Should a child have a one-to-one inclusion aide in his/her secular school, it is optimum and required for the child to have an inclusion aid in our school. The parent can provide an inclusion aide or Bnai Keshet will make every effort to arrange for an aide to work with your youngster on a one-to-one basis (the cost of which is the responsibility of the parent) during each session of religious school. The expense of a one-toone aide is the responsibility of the family.


2013/2014 ~5774 SCHEDULE Class Pre-K


Gan Alef Bet Gimmel Dalet Hey Vav Zayin

5:30-8:00pm 5:30-8:00pm


6:00- 8:00pm


4:15-6:00 pm 4:15-6:00 pm 4:15-6:00 pm

Shabbat 10:30 - 12:00 *see dates 9:00-12:00 9:00-12:00 9:00-12:00 9:00-12:00 9:00-12:00 9:00-12:00 9:00-12:00 9:00-12:00 (or 9:0010:00am)


ATTENDANCE POLICY Attendance Frequent absences and/or excessive lateness diminish the quality of the school program and impede the effectiveness of the teaching staff. Students are expected to attend class regularly and to be on time. A student absent from any class session is responsible for completing missed reading/writing assignments. Parents of students who have been absent frequently will be asked to meet with Rabbi Ariann to discuss the absences. Makeup work may be required. Students who miss more than 20% of any given year will be given independent study work to complete prior to advancing to the next grade. Parents of children who will be unable to attend school on a regular basis must meet with the Director of Congregational Learning before the beginning of the year. Extra work or tutoring will be required.

ADDITIONAL IMPORTANT INFORMATION  Allergies Recognizing that food allergies are a serious health issue for many children and holding the health and safety of the children in our school as the highest priorities: We are a NUT FREE, SESAME SEED FREE School. All Allergies should be noted on their student’s allergy form. Allergies will be noted and the information forwarded to the classroom teacher. Should your youngster have a situation that requires special handling or attention please contact the Director of Congregational Learning. If your child has an epi-pen, and is too young to administer it to him/herself, an epi-pen must be clearly marked with your child’s name and given to the Director of Congregational Learning.  Arrival and Dismissal Guidelines Classes begin promptly. Please be sure your youngster arrives 5 minutes prior to the start of class so that he/she can spend a few minutes talking with his/her friends and is ready to begin learning when class begins. Arrival once class is already in session is disruptive to the teacher, fellow students and causes the youngster arriving late to have missed important work at the start of class. On Shabbat parents and children begin together in the Sanctuary promptly at 9:00 a.m.

On Shabbat, all students are dismissed directly from their classrooms (or the Sanctuary for Kitah Zayin). On Mondays, Vav and Zayin students will meet in Red Gables. Students will be dismissed from the lobby of the Main Building.


On Wednesdays, Gimmel and Dalet meet in Red Gables, Hay meets in the Main Building. All students are dismissed from the lobby of the Main Building. Your children’s safety is our highest priority. Parents/caregivers must park their car on the street and come into the building where their child’s class for dismissal. THERE IS NO CARPOOL LINE AND CARS MAY NOT WAIT AT THE CURB OF THE BUILDING. Parents/guardians MUST enter the building. Students may not leave the building unless accompanied by an adult authorized to pick up the child or if the child has permission to be a Walker. Children will be dismissed only to the care of their parent/guardian or those indicated on the child’s carpool form. Without a written note or preauthorization children will be released only to their own parents.  Cell Phones/Electronic Devices For security and in the interest of maintaining educational standards, students are not permitted to use cell phones while at school. If a cell phone is brought to school, it must remain in a student’s pocket or backpack. Parent/child communication may be made from the Red Gables office (973-746-0244) if necessary during class time.  Classroom Guests The Director of Congregational Learning must be made aware of anyone wishing to invite a visitor to class. It will be up to the discretion of the Director of Congregational Learning to grant permission for such visitation. Should a visitor be joining our class the name and address of guest and emergency telephone number must be given to the Director of Congregational Learning.  Early Dismissal When it becomes absolutely necessary for parents to request that a student leave class early, parents are asked to send an e-mail to the Bet Midrash office ( stating the reason for and time of dismissal. Parents should come to the school office at the requested dismissal time to officially “sign out” the student. A member of the office staff will go to the classroom to escort the student from the classroom. Students will be expected to complete any work that has been missed.  Hebrew Names Our Hebrew names give us a sense of identity and family. If your child does not have a Hebrew name please inform the Director of Congregational Learning or Rabbi and you will be contacted to discuss a selection of a Hebrew name! Teachers will familiarize students with the spelling and the meaning of his/her name. Please share with your youngster any information about his/her name, i.e. who he/she named for, how you selected the name, etc.  Homework Acquiring skills in a new language takes time. Every Gimmel through Zayin student must practice Hebrew reading at home. The Behrman House website provides an excellent free resource for online Hebrew practice.


Occasionally, your child will receive non-Hebrew homework which will often require your input for completion. All homework assigned will be meaningful and important. You will receive an e-mail from your child's teacher if there is homework assigned; please help your child stay on top of assignments!  Kippot All students and teachers at Bnai Keshet are required to cover their heads with a kippah or a traditional head covering while in Bet Midrash. The decision to extend this requirement to females reflects the fact that equality for women is a basic principal of Reconstructionism. The Religious Life Committee determined that equality should apply to responsibilities as well as privileges. Baseball caps, headbands, and ribbons are not considered appropriate head covering.  School Closings –Inclement weather If the Montclair public school district has closed due to inclement weather Bet Midrash will be closed. If the Montclair public school district cancels after school activities due to inclement weather or safety emergency, Bet Midrash will be closed. If Bet Midrash is canceled on a Shabbat a voice message will be placed on the Bnai Keshet voice mail as well as the BK web page and Facebook page. The BK website is always the best place to go first for cancellation information.  Snack Snack will be served on Shabbat mornings during which time students will practice blessings and have a few moments to socialize. Please do not send snack in for your child’s class without checking with the Director of Congregational Learning. Snack is not routinely provided on Wednesdays, though there will be holiday celebrations which may or may not include food on Wednesday afternoons. Therefore, please be sure to provide a snack for your child to eat before arrival.  Tikkun Olam (repair of the world) Tikkun Olam is central to the Jewish people and as important as ever in our world today. To that end this year each kitah (grade) will take part in its very own Tikkun Olam project which will give our children first hand experience of service learning both in and out of the classroom. We are thrilled to bring this aspect of our curriculum to life and provide our families more opportunities to not just talk Jewish but to do Jewish.  Trips Vav and Zayin students’ learning experience will be enhanced by incorporating one or two “field” trips per year. There will/may be an additional cost for each trip to cover expenses. Financial assistance will be available and requests are kept confidential.  Tzedakah (righteousness) It is our obligation as Jews to help others. Students are asked to bring in a small sum of money (preferably from their personal allowance) to school when they meet on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. We do not collect money on Shabbat. Students themselves, as a group, will decide to which organization their money should be donated. The emphasis is educational, and every student is expected to participate to the extent that he or she is able.


Bet Midrash Familly Handbook 5774  
Bet Midrash Familly Handbook 5774  

Bnai Keshet - Bet Midrash Handbook for 2013/14 ~5774~