Welcome to the M’kor Shalom Religious School. We have an ever-evolving, innovative and relevant curriculum, an excellent and dedicated teaching staff and a supportive congregation committed to life-long learning. We believe in a strong sense of community, and everything we do is based on this philosophy.
Our goal for formal Jewish education is to provide a positive, caring learning environment that will serve as the foundation for a lasting commitment to Torah, Israel and the Jewish community. Our students feel comfortable here, this is their second home, and the result is they stay beyond B’nai Mitzvah, beyond Confirmation and graduate at the end of 12th grade. Many Confirmation and Post-Confirmation teens serve as Madrikhim (teaching assistants) for our younger students,giving them an even stronger connection to our school and congregation. Children who learn differently are supported through our special needs program, which finds the way for everyone to be successfully included in our school framework.
Our informal Jewish education is just as important. We achieve this goal through Family Education events, Mitzvah/Tzedakah opportunities, Family Social programs, Holiday celebrations, Trips to Israel (both Confirmation and Congregational trips), Youth Groups and our ongoing link to our graduates through our College Connection program.
From our very youngest 4-year-olds through our High School seniors, our students receive the very best in Jewish education.
Merle G. Steinberg, Education Director
You can send Merle an e-mail at MerleSteinberg@mkorshalom.org.
Each grade’s curriculum is unique and appropriate, with academics supplemented by music, art, hands-on programs and library visits. We are proud of our outstanding Faculty and the 10th, 11th and 12th grade Hebrew High School students – The Madrikhim Team – who work in the classrooms providing support for our students and teachers.
9:15-9:30 am – Students go to classroom to begin their morning
9:30-9:45 am – All teachers and students meet in the sanctuary for an assembly with Mrs. Steinberg and Ms. Guinane, Cantorial Soloist, that includes Havdalah (we can celebrate Havdalah between Saturday night and Tuesday…after that we must “end” Shabbat and begin thinking of the next Shabbat), music and more.
9:45-11:15 am – Teachers and students return to their classrooms for instruction
Kadima: For Fabulous 4-Year-Olds
Kadima, which means “forward” in Hebrew, gives our youngest students a chance to see their friends and make new friends at M’kor Shalom. Kadima meets once a month – according to a schedule.
Sunday School Kindergarten (secular school grade as of 9/30/2015)
Children ready for public school Kindergarten are also ready to begin their formal Jewish education. We have a wonderful and creative Kindergarten program filled with mitzvot, music, art, Hebrew letters, holiday celebrations, Bible stories and Israel. Our teachers provide a unique hands-on experience that will set the foundation for a love of Jewish learning.
1st Grade is taught by creative and knowledgeable individuals who guide these young readers through their first experience of reading and writing Hebrew letters, words, prayers and blessings – can their B’nai Mitzvah be far away? Their curriculum contains attractively designed, innovative and age-suitable study material on holidays, Bible, mitzvot and customs.
One of the highlights of the first-grade year is Consecration, a beautiful and meaningful service during which these young students are welcomed formally into the study of Torah. Consecration takes place during the Congregation’s Erev Simchat Torah service and is preceded by a light dairy dinner for the students and their families. Students each receive their own Torah for which they create a special cover. This Torah will be placed in the Ark for them to carry around the sanctuary during the service.
Our exceptional 2nd grade faculty will introduce these eager learners to their first Hebrew textbook, Shalom Alef Bet. The students enjoy the challenge of learning to read and write new Hebrew words. They acquire a love for Judaism through their study of Mitzvot, Bible, Holidays and Being a Partner with God. These innovative teachers add hands-on experiences with cooking and craft projects. Many times they work as a team in a wonderfully “noisy” atmosphere: one group cooking, one group creating a keepsake and one group learning a blessing!
The weekend Hebrew Program encompasses the study of Hebrew as a total living language, which means our students study Siddur Hebrew as well as Modern Hebrew and translation. By the time the students reach Bar/Bat Mitzvah, they will be thoroughly familiar with all blessings and Shabbat service prayers and will be able to read them and chant them. Sunday students in 3rd and 4th grades will also participate in the Havdalah service to start their week in a lively and meaningful manner.
Saturday morning Junior Congregation services (part of Hebrew School) for 5th and 6th graders give students a chance not only to participate in prayer but also to receive honors and lead parts of the service themselves – from the Bimah. They become very comfortable in this setting and will soon be ready to take their place as Jewish adults.
Our week-day Judaica Program helps to enforce a positive Jewish identity and pride in our heritage. Subjects such as Bible, History, Israel, Values, Life-Cycle and Spirituality are taught on appropriate reading and grade levels and in a manner that makes these subjects relevant to the lives of our students. The use of art, music, dance and assembly programs helps to further enhance this message.
Our 7th graders attend Tuesday night Hebrew High School, where they learn and discuss Jewish ethics and values, adult-level holiday celebrations and modern Jewish history. This is supplemented by speakers, films and discussions of current events. In addition, this very special year is highlighted by the parent/student program called Family Track, which is taught by our Rabbis. The group meets once a month, per schedule, to discuss relevant topics to enrich the full Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience.
8th and 9th Grades (Pre-Confirmation)
A Judaica curriculum combines electives with core courses. The school year is divided into four quarters. Students take one course per quarter. The courses offered span all areas of Jewish study and interest, including Art, Bible, Cooking, Current Events, Ethics, History, Holocaust, Teen Issues, Law and Order, Spies, Israel, Social Action and others.
10th Grade (Confirmation)
The curriculum focuses on major issues and topics in Jewish tradition and contemporary Jewish life. Under the leadership of our Rabbis, along with master teachers, the curriculum is divided among Prayer, Reform Judaism and the Ten Commandments (given to us on Shavuot).
The Confirmation ceremony takes place on Shavuot; the date depends on the Jewish calendar, but it is always in the late spring. Our Confirmands lead the entire Shavuot morning service for their families and the congregation. There is such pride and sense of accomplishment as these teens read Torah, introduce and lead prayers and blessings and read their original compositions. After the service, we all celebrate with a delicious brunch.
The annual Confirmation Class trip to Israel that takes place during Spring/Passover break (THIS year in Jerusalem) is one of the highlights of the year and of their lives! We have a perfect balance of spiritual, physical and social experiences – visiting the Kotel, climbing in the desert, bonding with leaders and fellow travelers, staying at a Reform kibbutz and experiencing our Jewish homeland as we follow in the steps of our sages and the over 400 teens from previous trips!
11th and 12th Grades (Post-Confirmation)
Selected and relevant topics are explored in depth. Under the leadership of our Rabbis and master teachers, our students are given the “Jewish skills” they will need to utilize as Jewish adults – the ability to challenge, discuss, debate and embrace topics dealing with Jewish values and ethics and the image of Jews in the media.
Our 11th grade optional teacher-training course is offered to interested Post-Confirmation students who will serve as Madrikhim (teaching assistants) in our Special Needs Program or in our younger classes. The Madrikhim can receive a salary or they can volunteer. Tenth graders may participate as volunteers. These teens will receive a separate certificate upon 12th grade graduation that gives them our own certification to teach Hebrew School, as many of our college students do!
Under the direction of Mrs. Jane Abesh, our Special Needs Coordinator, and the supervision of Mrs. Steinberg, we pride ourselves on providing strong and continued support to children with special needs. Whether it is watching out for food allergies or enlisting the help of a one-on-one assistant, we see that the needs of all our students are met, at the appropriate level. Parents are asked to help us by providing educational information about their children, such as an IEP or 504 plan outline.
Depending upon the level of support needed, we work with the clergy to adapt the Bar/Bat Mitzvah training process to ensure that each child in our program has a positive experience, making them and their family proud of their Jewish accomplishment.
To communicate with Mrs. Abesh, you may call the school office or send her an email at JaneAbesh@mkorshalom.org.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah dates are given out approximately three years in advance. Preparatory lessons begin approximately one year in advance of the service date and are scheduled by appointment. All preparation is in addition to the regular school schedule. Hebrew school classes provide the foundation for this training.
Torah U’Mitzvot Program
Students also participate in the Torah U’Mitzvot Program during the “Bar/Bat Mitzvah year.” This program, under the direction of Ms. Guinane, requires students to attend a certain number of Shabbat services, perform community service and participate in Jewish learning. There are many opportunities for the students to volunteer at the synagogue, as well as attend Shabbat, Festival and other services. To contact Suzanne Guinane, our Cantorial Soloist and Coordinator of the Mitzvah Program, you may call the school office or send her an email at SuzanneGuinane@mkorshalom.org.
Beginning in first grade, these programs take place several times a year and help promote friendships, provide a fun Jewish experience and strengthen the connection to our synagogue. Some of the typical events for these students are: Dinner & a Movie, Game Day, Make Your Own Yad, Elijah/Miriam’s Cup Project, Breakfast for Dinner, Bowling, Legos and Latkes, Dinner at Bubbe’s, A Fishy Event, Mystery Tour, Kibbutz M’kor and more…