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Religious School

Dear Friends,


A Zoom information session on June 28th at 7:00 for families who are interested in joining Temple Shir Shalom and enrolling children in Temple Shir Shalom Religious School with Rabbi Joseph


The goal of the Temple Shir Shalom Religious School is to introduce students and their families to the deep spiritual insights that underlie Jewish customs and traditions. During the 2023-24 academic year, our curriculum will focus on six fundamental Jewish virtues, about which we are taught that one can never exercise them enough: honoring father and mother, being diligent in study, being devoted in prayer, visiting the sick, welcoming the stranger, and making peace among people. For each of these virtues, there will be two Sunday sessions for students alone, and a third family education session led by Rabbi Joseph, with parental (or grand-parental) presence highly recommended.


The 18 Sunday sessions in the 2023-24 academic year will be augmented by two brand-new programs: six specially developed Saturday morning Religious School Shabbat services, led by Rabbi Joseph, to which the entire congregation will be invited; and two Friday night Shabbat “happenings” that will include a light pre-service dinner for Religious School students and families. All of these, we hope, will be wonderful learning and celebratory experiences for our students, their families, and our entire congregation. These Friday and Saturday special events will be optional in the sense that we know that not everyone will be able to attend all of them, but they will provide great new opportunities for learning and spiritual growth—we hope that you will not want to miss them!


We pursue our primary goal at Temple Shir Shalom by aiming high; we believe that healthy challenge—intellectual, moral, ethical—is what teaches best. Therefore we talk about real things, even with our younger students; we provide real experience of Jewish insights in action; and we hope to merit real, deep engagement from our students and families. For example, we learn quickly and easily that Purim is celebrated with pastry called hamentaschen and noise-makers called groggers. But it is much more important that we understand what Purim teaches us about living in a society whose fundamental values are contrary, or even hostile to our Jewish values. We learn quickly and easily that Passover is celebrated with unleavened bread called matzoh and an unusual fruit salad called charoset. But it is much more important that we understand what Passover teaches us the ever emergent possibility of freedom from whatever may be oppressing us.


What about Hebrew?

We are members of a people that has always expressed its deepest truths in Hebrew. Therefore, at Temple Shir Shalom we believe that a significant familiarity with Hebrew is necessary to live an engaged Jewish life. At Temple Shir Shalom, we focus on teaching our students and families an extensive Hebrew spiritual "vocabulary of concepts" along with the ability to recognize these key words written in the Hebrew alphabet.


What about B-Mitzvah?

One of the blessings of a small congregation is the ability to work with families on deeply customized life cycle ceremonies, including B-Mitzvah. Rabbi Joseph handles the great majority of B-Mitzvah preparation at Temple Shir Shalom, and he promises that every student will have the opportunity to stretch and grow as a Hebrew reader, as a Torah interpreter, and as a young Jewish person during their months of study together. Each family will meet with Rabbi Joseph when students turn 11-years-old to discuss Hebrew and B-Mitzvah learning goals, strategies, and options.

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