Temple B’nai Chaim
Religious School Handbook
Attendance is very important for the progress of our students in their Jewish studies. Please support the work of our school by ensuring that the students attend class regularly and on time. If your child is going to be absent, it is imperative to call the office at 544-8695 ext. 18 and leave a message.
Absenteeism is a detriment not only to the student but also to the class, and to the teacher who counts on each individual child’s attendance and class participation. Lesson plans are carefully thought out and constructed around maximum attendance levels. Therefore, commencing with fourth grade, it is necessary for students to attend a minimum of 80% of all scheduled sessions for that year including both the weekday and Sunday sessions. Students are required to make up missed work. For any long-term absences, parents should contact teachers for makeup work.
We do expect your child to be on time. Late arrival disrupts classes and puts the tardy students at a disadvantage to keep up with the class. If punctuality is a consistent problem, e.g. due to secular school dismissal time, please inform your child’s teacher. This year, teachers will note students who arrive more than five minutes late. If this tardiness becomes habitual over time, we will call and try to work out ways to ensure that your children arrive on time. Students who need to leave early must have a note from a parent to that effect. Parents should come to the school office first. No child will be allowed to leave the class/building unaccompanied.
School (Snow) Closing
In the event of the possible closing of school due to inclement weather or any other emergency, information can be found on the web at CTWEATHER.COM. You can sign up to receive emails about school closings via this website.
School Office Hours
Wednesday, Thursday: 11:00-3:00 and 6:15-7:00
|Sunday Session||9:30 – 11:30 am|
|Wednesday/Thursday Hebrew School||4:20 – 6:00 pm|
|Confirmation grades (8th – 10th grade)||Wednesday 11:30 am – 1:00 pm|
Sunday school children are dismissed via the parking lot procedure found in this booklet. Parents are requested to pick up the children in Pre-Kindergarten – 3rd grade at the classroom door. Any child not picked up within 10 minutes of dismissal will be brought to the Religious School office until the parent/guardian arrives.
Our Religious School has had a long history of active parent participation and dedication. Their primary concern is to build community among the families of the school and the synagogue The Parents Association is the forum for parents to work with the clergy and the Religious School staff to plan, publicize, and run activities for the Religious School . Events that have been organized by the Parent Association in the past include Shabbat dinners, holiday celebrations and the annual Purim Carnival. Our hope is that for every class in the school, one or two parents will volunteer to serve as “class parents,” supporting the participation of other families in their grade. To get involved, please contact the Interim Director of Education, Karin Beitel at email@example.com.
Teachers do assign homework. Responsibility lies with every student to practice reading aloud Hebrew assignments for a minimum of 10 minutes, 3-4 times per week at home. Religious School assignments may require more than a half an hour per week. When larger projects are assigned, students are given an appropriate number of weeks for completion. It is the absent or early-departing student’s responsibility to contact his/her teacher to receive homework assignments and make up any missed work.
Parent Teacher Conferences
Parent-teacher conferences are encouraged when necessary. To schedule a time for a conference, please contact the school at 544-8695 ext. 18 to make an appointment.
Hebrew report cards are issued two times per school year: mid-winter and at the end of the year. These report cards report the student’s progress in Hebrew. For Judaic studies, summaries of class teachings are issued three times a year in November, February, and May. Should you wish to confer with the teacher(s) about any area of concern, you may find their email addresses in the front of the handbook.
The act of giving Tzedakah is an important Jewish value and mitzvah. The Hebrew root of Tzedakah means justice and righteousness. Tzedakah is something that we do not only out of the goodness of our hearts, but also out of our sense of responsibility towards our fellow human beings. Tzedakah will be collected by the teachers, and students are encouraged to bring money to Sunday classes each week to contribute. At the end of the year, each grade will decide where to donate these funds.
Parents are invited to observe their children’s classes at any time. As a courtesy, please let the teacher know you would like to sit in. Teachers’ contact information is available here.
Each teacher will discuss the rules of the classroom with the students at the beginning of the year. The teacher will send these rules home so that parents and students can be sure to review the rules together.
As our teachers will show respect to our students, we expect that our students will be respectful and behave appropriately both in class and during services. In addition, students are expected to respect and care for the synagogue property and grounds. If a student’s disruptive behavior interferes with the learning process for the class, the teacher will be in contact with parents, the Education Manager and/or the Rabbi if necessary.
We expect the full cooperation of our students and parents to ensure that the religious school is a positive ongoing experience for all.
Each class will also have a class covenant that will be discussed and created by the students in the class. They will learn about each other’s values and work together to create a safe place to speak their thoughts and opinions. Our goal is to build an environment conducive to learning, friendship and community, respect between students and teachers is necessary. We would like our students to experience respect and honor in a warm, caring, joyful, and supportive environment.
Shabbat Worship Services
We strongly encourage your child to attend worship services. In addition to complementing religious education and Hebrew studies, attendance at services enhances your child’s sense of belonging to both the Temple B’nai Chaim community and to the greater Jewish community. During the year, we urge you to encourage your child(ren) to attend a number of services at least equal to the grade he or she is in school, e.g. a fifth grader should attend services at least five times during the school year.
In addition to classroom study, students and their families regularly join programs at TBC to strengthen their study of Torah. Both the ChaiLites and the Religious School news will have announcements for these events.
Students new to TBC Religious School in Kindergarten-grade 3 will be consecrated at a special Shabbat service on Friday, December 16. Consecration is a Jewish life-cycle event, the beginning of the child’s formal religious school education. It is a special time for the children, and all family members will be invited to attend.
The Religious School of TBC offers educational programming for all children beginning at age 3 with Jr. Chai and continuing through tenth grade.
Our Culture Curriculum is a multifaceted program for grades 2-7 that teaches core Jewish values and understandings as the focus of the lessons. It is divided into three strands Torah, Avodah and G’milut Chasadim. Each strand focuses on concept learning rather than on activity learning, a deep learning and understanding, rather than the broad exposure. Also within each lesson, there will be an Enduring Understanding. These are the big ideas that have lasting value beyond the classroom. They are the core Jewish values that are embedded in the facts, skills, and activities.
Our Hebrew studies for grades 4-7 reflect our current prayer goals. This curriculum focuses on the prayers that students will need to know for their B’nai Mitzvah service. This curriculum also has an online component, which is an enriching resource for students. The goals of Hebrew instruction are fluent reading skills, understanding of the relevance and ethical values underlying the prayers. It also has a foundation of prayer, a repertoire of Jewish values, and a sense of belonging to Am Yisrael – the Jewish people.
Students in Grades 4 -7 also have the opportunity to participate in services during Hebrew School. Here they will become more familiar with the elements of prayer that they are required to know.
Jr. Chai: Our preschool program meets once a month on Sunday morning. Children are introduced to the Jewish holiday cycle through song, stories, and arts and crafts.
Kindergarten – 1st grade: Classes meet once per week on Sunday mornings. The curriculum focus for these grades is based on building a foundation of Jewish knowledge and experience, including Shabbat and the Jewish holidays, Torah, Bible stories, Jewish values, music, worship, and oral/aural development of Hebrew skills.
Second Grade: Classes meet once per week on Sunday mornings. The curriculum focus is Discovering Myself in the Jewish Story. The students will be taught bible stories as a way to understand, what it means to be part of the Jewish people. They will also learn about holiday experiences and how participating in them connect us to the story of our people. They will learn fundamental Jewish values and connect their own behavior with their Jewish identity.
Third Grade: Classes meet once per week on Sunday mornings. The curriculum focus is I am part of the Jewish people. During the course of the school year, students will explore their relationships with the Jewish community and with God. They will also address fundamental questions about our relationship with God and performing personal act of loving-kindness connects us to our community.
Fourth Grade: Classes meet twice per week on Sunday mornings and on a weekday afternoon. The curriculum focus is K’dushah – Holiness and the role we can each play in making the world more Kadosh/holy. The students will be introduced to the notion of holy living. They will learn about finding sacred connections to God, community, and self. They will be learning that their behavior and how even the smallest of them can tip the balance toward a holier world community.
Fifth Grade: Classes meet twice per week on Sunday mornings and one weekday afternoon. The curriculum is Being Part of the Community. They will focus on three concepts: the Jewish people, Am Yisrael; the Land of Israel, Eretz Yisrael; and the Covenant/B’rit between Am Yisrael and God. These concepts are essential for understanding how our behavior affect others in our community. They will also begin to have an understanding of formal Jewish prayer.
Sixth grade: Classes meet twice per week on Sunday mornings and one weekday afternoon. The curriculum focus is Reform Judaism and the power of community. They will study Nevi’im and prophecy. They will also study prayer as a connection between self and community. Each student will develop a positive attitude toward and appreciation of the Jewish community in which they live.
Seventh Grade: Classes meet twice per week on Sunday mornings and one weekday afternoon. The curriculum focus is Revelation in preparation for students B’nai Mitzvah year. As our students stand on the threshold of young adulthood, they will explore their own personal role – and power – in the ongoing process of Revelation. They will also focus on Hineini – Here I Am . Students will be encouraged to reflect on their lives as young Jewish adults. We will end the year discussing middot, the personal Jewish values that cause us to behave in ways that make the world a better, and holier, place.
Pre–Confirmation for 8th-9th Grades: TBC is introducing a wonderful post B’nai Mitzvah educational program for our students. The creators of the first Jewish Confirmation classes wanted their students to study, question, and struggle with what it means to be Jewish in the contemporary world. This year, TBC’s Confirmation program reflects these same goals. In each grade, our students will have the opportunity to engage with traditional texts, demonstrate their ethical convictions through social action opportunities, and have deep and respectful conversations about their beliefs. We will challenge our students to think critically and creatively and are excited about what is sure to be a dynamic year.
Confirmation 10th grade:This year’s 10thgrade program will focus on this important question: How will my Jewish Identity shape my future? We will translate traditional Jewish values into contemporary situations, explore creative ways that people connect with Judaism, and live out our Jewish values through social action projects and trips. The year concludes with the class leading a beautiful and moving service of confirmation during Shavuot.
Students with Special Needs
We invite parents of students with special needs to meet with the Educator, to discuss ways the school can assist in providing an appropriate and meaningful religious education for those students. It is our practice to mainstream students with special needs, whenever possible, in our religious studies programs.
Because we believe that Jewish learning is a lifelong process, TBC’s educational program strives to provide a rich learning environment, as well as a communal worship experience. It is our opinion that Jewish education should not end with the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
To that end, we have implemented a 7th grade curriculum that does not become obsolete once your child becomes a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Therefore, attendance is required of all 7th graders on both Sundays and during the week throughout the entire school year.
Within 12 months immediately preceding their Bar/Bat Mitzvah date, students shall attend a minimum of 16 services, which consist of the following commitments:
1. Each student must attend eight (8) Friday night Shabbat services
2. Each student must attend a least five (5) Shabbat morning services (Including at least three (3) at our temple)
3. Each student must attend three of the following other B’nai Chaim congregational services: Rosh Hashanah (counts as one service only), Yom Kippur (counts as one service only) Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Chanukah, Tu B’shevat, Purim and Shavuot. Failure to satisfy these attendance requirements may result in postponement of the assigned Bar/Bat Mitzvah date. The Rabbi in consultation with the Religious School Director will make that determination.
Upon completion of 7th grade, students enrolled in TBC’s 8 – 12 grades can continue their connection with Temple B’nai Chaim Religious School by working as teaching assistants (Madrichim) in the classrooms.
Snacks/Food in Religious School
Children will NOT be permitted to bring any food to Religious School classes unless medically necessary. This policy will be strictly enforced. Challah and apple juice will be served to students arriving for Hebrew classes (grades 4-7) on Wednesday and Thursdays. Accommodations may be made for children who are allergic to ingredients in either of these 2 foods (egg-free challah or alternate beverage may be brought from home for the child with prior approval from Education Manager). Chewing gum is not permitted. Snacks will not be served on a regular basis during school hours on Sunday. There will be occasions when food will be served to the children as part of a holiday celebration during school hours on Sunday or during the week. Parents will be informed of these occasions well in advance to make accommodations for an allergic child.
FOOD ALLERGY STATEMENT
Temple Bnai Chaim is not currently a nut free facility. However, when we have occasions on which food is being served in the classroom, we will ask parents in a particular class to help keep our children safe by not sending in food that contains a particular allergen. We ask for your help in the regard by being aware of the potential for life threatening situations that arise from the presence of certain ingredients. If you are aware of an allergy in your child’s class, please refrain from sending snacks with your child that contain the allergen.
We thank you in advance for helping to make our school a safe learning environment for all children
Parking Lot Procedures
During drop off, children are not permitted to walk unattended through the parking lot. They will be directed to the main entrance by the parent on duty. Between drop off and pick up, the fire lane to the temple building must be clear to allow for emergency vehicles.
At dismissal time, in order to clear the parking lot quickly and ensure safe dismissal, we will load 7 cars at a time. Grades Jr Chai – 3rd are to be picked up in their classrooms. Please follow the instructions of the parent on duty in the parking lot; following their lead will allow for better flow through the parking lot, resulting in less wait time, and greater safety for our children. If you choose to park your car, please remember you must come to the entrance to pick up your child. Even if you already see your children from a distance, do not ask them to leave the waiting area and run to you.
At no time, should parents leave unattended vehicles parked in “traffic pathways”. Thank you for your help. Your cooperation will ensure the safety and security of our children.
Parking lot Duty
It is the responsibility of each family involved with the school to supervise the parking lot. Dates are assigned for every family. Family Names will be posted in Religious School news on Friday.
Please meet in the front hall at 9:20 am. We will need you to assist the students into the building by opening the car doors for the younger students and directing all students to the school building. You are required to stay on the premises while religious school is in session.
For dismissal please meet in the front hall at 11:20 am . Grades 4 through 7 will be dismissed from the hallway. Grades pre-Kindergarten – 3rd are to be picked up in their classrooms. Please direct all parents of these students to park their cars and go into the classrooms to pick up their children.
If you are unable to fulfill your commitment on Sunday, please refer to the parking duty schedule to find a substitute or change with another parent. The office staff will be happy to provide you with possible families with whom to trade. Also, please notify the Education office of the change.
Thank you for your help in making our dismissal process runs smoothly!