Oy Vey! I Joined a Gym!

I was asked to post my remarks from our Meet-n-Greet.  Here they are:

It has been great to see all of you and hear about your summers. I wanted to take a minute or two to tell you about something that I did this summer. It won’t sound like a big thing to most of you, but to me it was HUGE.

I joined a gym!

So, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that I’ve avoided doing this for my entire adult life, even though I’ve always known that I should be working out. I’ve always been shaped like this – ROUND! But, after the death of some very close relatives and friends in the past year, and increasing health issues of my own as I’m beginning to get older, I decided that it was time for me to get over it and just do it!

It has been a learning experience. And, as I have spoken to returning parents, and new families in the past few weeks, I realized something: Religious School is a lot like a gym!

For example: I was terrified to get started…I was sure that the gym was filled with young, beautiful, skinny women with perfectly toned bodies, dressed in revealing leotards or sexy yoga pants. Turned out to be a bunch of women, most of them my age or older, with less-than-perfect bodies dressed in baggie shorts and big, oversized T Shirts. I dreaded going at first; I was afraid. But eventually I surprised myself – I began to actually look forward to going.

What preconceived ideas do you have about Religious School? The Hebrew School of your childhood was probably much different. Everybody is supposed to hate it, right? Give it a chance and pay attention to what is going on in Religious School, and you may realize that your kids are actually having – dare I say it? – FUN? They are making friends, they are learning about their really awesome identity. They are not being tortured. Some even like coming!

I was so worried about people judging me at the gym. Would they accept me or laugh at me? Would I ever fit in? Well, to my surprise, everyone was really nice, and I quickly learned that most of the other women at the gym are just like me in many ways! I remembered that I was there to become fit – not because I was already fit! That’s why the professionals are there.

How many of you stay away from synagogue because you think you don’t fit in? You’re not “Jewish enough”? But, that’s why we’re here. Give us a chance. You will be surprised.

A HUGE difficulty was that I had to really rework my schedule to fit in time each day for me to go to the gym. I had to re-prioritize; and we’re talking giving up one of my passions – something that I’ve done almost every day for the past 8 years – so that I could make this a part of my lifestyle for the rest of my life. It reminded me of how parents always come to me about scheduling problems, and all of the activities that their kids absolutely MUST join. Where is Judaism in your list of priorities?

I quickly learned that what I do in the gym can’t be repeated at home without buying lots of equipment, and even then I don’t have the help of the professionals and the encouragement of the others in the gym. What I can do at home to reach my goal is to eat healthy foods and exercise on my stationary bike on alternate days. It is all about making good choices, and changing some really bad habits. After all, it is a lifestyle. Does that sound familiar? Can we make your kids Jewish in just 5 hours per week? Can you ignore it at home and expect to suddenly be Jewish? This is going to take work….consistent work! And it must be followed up at in the home, or it isn’t going to work at all.

After a while at the gym, I went through a period of a pretty bad attitude. I began to notice that some of the other ladies barely do what they are supposed to be doing. They shuffle around, sit on the equipment and chat and don’t even try. They don’t always come – sometimes, I’m the only one in the gym! Hey, I’d much rather stay home, too! I began to think that maybe I could get away with skipping some of the sessions, or resting for a while when the trainers have their backs turned. Everyone else does it….why don’t I?

Of course, that’s crazy! This is for ME. If they don’t make the most of it, that’s their problem. And, I hear that a lot with our students: so-and-so doesn’t come regularly, or never comes to services, so why should I?

And, here’s the biggie: I barely lost any weight yet! Hey, I’m not getting my money’s worth, right?!  But there have been some other, unexpected benefits: I have WAY more stamina and strength. My back has stopped hurting at night, so now I’m sleeping much better. And, the blood tests from the doctor visit in July came back with greatly improved numbers… So, I’m healthier, even if it doesn’t look like it.

What does being Jewish look like? How many parents expected their kids to be reading and speaking in Hebrew after the first few weeks of Religious School? Is that even a realistic goal…the right goal? Or, perhaps we should be looking more long-term, and at other benefits. Your kids have Jewish friends. They are comfortable here at the Center. They have gotten familiar with the clergy, and have learned history, Torah, and traditions. The Hebrew will come. They will shine at their Bar or Bat Mitzvah, but in the meantime, perhaps they are becoming spiritually healthier, even if it doesn’t sound or look like it to you right now.

I could keep making comparisons, but I think you get the point. My staff and I are here to help your child to learn how to be Jewish. This is our passion, our goal. We’ll provide the exercise equipment and the instruction and encouragement, but it is up to you to make the commitment to use it, to carry on at home and make it an important part of the rest of your life. We need parents to help our kids to continue what they’ve learned at home, to make it into a lifestyle. What we teach here is to keep them spiritually healthy for the rest of their lives. You are here for all the right reasons. Don’t lose sight of your own goals!

Looking forward to a great year!


Learning Hebrew in 2015

I recently came across an article that I saved two years ago.  I only had to change a few words that referred to their particular school, and I now have an article remarkably relevant to our own JJC program:

“Our Religious School is part of a new breed of schools – we meet only two days a week, primarily to accommodate the busy lives our families lead.

Being a two-day school presents special challenges and creates additional responsibilities for both educators and families.  It means creating meaningful programs and using every minute of our time wisely. Not surprisingly, our largest challenge is effective Hebrew instruction.  Learning to read Hebrew takes time and repetition, and the fact that many of our students neither use nor practice it at home means learning this important language all the more difficult.

Families can do four things to help their children learn Hebrew:

  • Bring your children to school each week unless there is an emergency.
  • Arrive on time and do not pull them out early.
  • Make use of the important at-home resource for your child to practice: BehrmanHouse.com, which offers great practice directly from our book and fun games and activities to reinforce this learning, which your child can easily do on their own. 
  • Finally, make sure your child practices Hebrew five minutes per day, three or four days a week. The only way your child will become a Hebrew reader is through practice.   With it, they will become Hebrew readers.  Without it, they won’t.

Help your child succeed as a Hebrew reader.  It makes the entire school experience more meaningful – and a lot more fun.”

This year, I’ve heard parents criticize that their child is spending too much time in class working on their own or practicing in hevruta (small study groups).  I’m asked: “Why send them to Hebrew School if they can just do this at home?”  I would agree wholeheartedly, if these same students were actually spending time at home practicing Hebrew!  It is time for us to work together – parents and teachers – to reach the levels of success that we ALL want.

All of our 2nd through 6th grade students have had lots of opportunities to learn how to use the Behrman House OLC in class, and should be able to navigate the site on their own at home.  If your child is still uncertain, please contact your Hebrew teacher and they will be happy to review it with your child in class.  Let’s give this a chance to work!

Thank you,


The Other 97%…

I was pleasantly surprised to see so many of our Religious School kids last week at the funeral of their teacher, Scott Zimmerman.  Although it was certainly a very sad occasion, I couldn’t help but think that Scott would have been very pleased to have seen so many kids in the sanctuary during winter break.

A few days later, as I was setting up our 2nd Religious School Shabbat service, I heard from several of our parents who were surprised that I was planning something “during break”.  I understand that many of our families have been out of town and/or have out-of-town family visiting, and I accepted the fact that I would have to take extra efforts to remind them of this special occasion (which had been on the calendar since the beginning of the year).  It took quite a bit of my own “vacation” time to find just a few  willing participants.

As some of my friends were quick to point out, my students and their parents don’t usually expect to have to do “school stuff” during a school break.   What was I thinking?

I was actually thinking of the ultimate purpose of attending our Religious School.

Last year, we went to great lengths to reformulate our mission and vision statement .  It states that our goal is:

“To develop a passionate and joyful Jewish identity along with the skills and knowledge to practice Judaism; to inspire students to a life time commitment of Jewish learning, community involvement and ethical action.”

Is our Jewish identity something that we only have 5 hours per week, during Religious School hours?  Do we simply shut down our religious and ethical obligations during breaks from school (or for the other 163 hours each week)?

Is it really so unreasonable to ask our families to attend a service before school “officially” started back?

Similarly, parents have been asking for years for me to find a way for their children to practice their Hebrew skills online during the week.  I found a very easy way to do this; the Behrman House OLC follows our curriculum exactly and even provides fun Hebrew games for our students to enjoy as they learn.  I cut one-half of an hour off our Wednesday evening classes, and asked parents to utilize that 30 minutes by encouraging their child to reinforce their skills once or twice during the week online, at their own convenience.

The response?  In checking the activity in the OLC this past 3 weeks, only 1 student (out of 51 in relevant grades) actually logged onto the site.  A few have explained that they have been out of town, or too busy.  During the school year, however, I am told that the kids are way too busy with school homework, afterschool activities, etc to log onto the OLC.   Roughly 25% of our Hebrew students have EVER logged onto the practice site outside of class – almost all of them in the youngest two grades.

If our entire goal is to teach our children to practice Judaism when they grow up, 24 hours a day, 7 days per week (and I will assume that they will be finished with Religious School after 7th grade, so they won’t even have that  5 hours/week), then let’s show them how to do that now!   Think about how and when you, as parents, can show your child that Judaism is important in your everyday activities.  What more can they do during the 97% of the time they are not in Religious School classes?  How can they develop a pride and a love of our Jewish heritage?  How can they learn to live Jewishly – no matter what the activity at the moment?  We merely give them the tools: school experiences, knowledge and gentle guidance.  The rest of their education can only come from the home.  We can’t make your child Jewish. Your children are Jewish because of YOU!

Religious School only takes up 3 percent of their week.  Is that really the percentage of their lives that you want them to “be Jewish”?

Wishing all a healthy and joyful 2015,


Grade 2-5: Progress Report

I’ve been so busy with our newly-re-imagined Religious School that I’ve barely had a chance to blog this year!   I can honestly say that our positive energy level has risen up, up, up!

My Sunday School teachers in grades 2-5 are extremely pleased with the results of our ARTs rotation decision.  They have noticed that behavior issues are at a minimum; the kids are just too busy and engaged to act up!  Interactive discussions and successful hands-on learning projects are proving that the students are really understanding and retaining their lessons.  Their only complaint is that they sometimes don’t have the time needed to continue the amazing learning that is going on in the classroom before they have to send the children to their next class.

Hebrew classes on Wednesdays for this age group seem to be going well, too. The most significant change that we have made is the series of books, which have been well-received but are not so very different from our old Hineni books.  Students have been slow to warm up to the OLC (Online Learning Center) that reinforces the new series.  I have access to an online assessment tool, which lets me see who is logging on, what they’ve done, and their scores on activities and games.  I’ve found that students in the younger classes (grades 2 and 3) are practicing at home and sharing their enthusiasm for the site at school.  Older students progressively use the OLC less and less.  We are utilizing this tool in class as well, so we are still seeing the benefits in these upper level classes, although this would most definitely increase if the students would use it to practice between classes as well.

So, how do the kids feel?  Although not a scientific poll, I took the time before Thanksgiving to ask them directly.  Here are the results:

I asked 15 randomly chosen students in grades 2-5 to answer 4 simple questions.

  • How would you rate Sunday School this year? (1=Great; 2=OK; 3=Bad)

40% of the students responded with “Great”; 60% responded with “OK”


  • Compared to last year, is Sunday School better, same, or worse?

80% declared that it was better, while 20% responded that it was the same

It is great that nobody actually disliked Sunday School or felt it was worse than last year!  Even among the students who answered “OK” to the first question, most agreed that it was better than last year.

  • How would you rate Wednesday (Hebrew) School this year? (1=Great; 2=OK; 3=Bad)

40% of the students responded with “Great”; 53% responded with “OK”; 7% (one                student) replied that it was “bad”


  • Compared to last year, is Wednesday School better, same, or worse?

66% declared that it was better, while 34% responded that it was the same

Again, we had 40% that seem very happy to be with us (and they weren’t the same            40% as #1, which was interesting).  It is interesting to note that the one student who            said it was “Bad” rated it as “better” than last year.  He also told me that, in order to            improve, we needed to have a one hour long break…which I think we would all agree          may be too long for a 90 minute day!)

As I said, this is a very non-scientific study, but I wanted to hear from the kids and let them know that we are listening to them.  Of course, we don’t have the same “data” to compare from last year, but I will ask them again in the spring and compare as we continue to make adjustments to our program.

As always, I welcome all comments and suggestions.  If you’d like to come in just to see what is going on, please let us know and we’ll work that out!


Learning 24/7 (well, maybe more like 24/6…)

One of the frequent requests from parents has been to have an online site available so that our students can practice their Hebrew skills at their own leisure at home.  We all know that learning any language is fairly impossible if it is only studied once or twice a week. Since we moved a few years ago from a 3 day-per-week program down to a 2 day-per-week, we’ve seen a fairly severe decrease in the rate at which our children are mastering their Hebrew skills – both basic alef-bet reading and prayers.  This trend has been mirrored all over the country, and Jewish Education groups have responded with some very innovative programs.

I’ve been working this summer at setting up a new, exciting learning tool: the Behrman House Online Learning Center.  This is an interactive website for students in grades 2-6 that you can access at any time from your home computers.  Our kids will now be able to practice the Hebrew that they’ve been learning in school, and also play games to reinforce their new skills and vocabulary in a fun way at any time!  It is easy to access, and teachers will be able to track individual progress on assignments and games automatically. This fits in nicely with our self-paced Hebrew program, which will, of course, continue. Students will still have to attend classes during the week; this is what is referred to as “Blended Learning” – a combination of regular classroom and online reinforcement, allowing us to reduce the amount of time that we spend on reviewing or re-teaching lessons that are forgotten between Religious School sessions.  However, it will also be useful for a child who misses an occasional lesson to be able to keep up at home and be ready to come back to school at the same point as the others in the class.

The parents’ job is easy: just register your child for Religious School, and check the box that allows us to assign an account to each student.  We’ll take care of the rest!  Each child will be given their ID and password to get onto the site, and they will find themselves in the OLC (Online Learning Center) in a class grouping.  The site is completely secure and safe.

In order to use this site, we did have to change our Hebrew book series, although the curriculum still stays the same as it has been. Instead of the Hineni series, which is now slightly outdated, we will be using the Kol Yisrael series.  This is a wonderful prayer series that also includes information about modern Israel – a little extra educational bonus! Ready, Set…Go Alef Bet! and The Alef Bet Quest are the primers for this series, which we will also use and are included for grades 2 and 3 in the OLC.

As each child is registered, I will order the appropriate book and online license, assign him/her to a class and set them up with their unique sign-in.  On the first day of school, each child will get a chance to enter the site and parents will also be given the information needed to access it at home. We hope that all parents will take the time to go to the OLC at home with their child to see how this program works.   More information and a peek into the site will be given at our August 24 Meet-n-Greet.

Please be sure to register your child at your earliest convenience.  I can’t order the license and books until I have your permission on the registration form, and unfortunately this means that any child that is not registered by the first day will have to wait for their book and license to arrive.  I would hate to leave out any of the children, so sign up now!

We have so many new things happening this year!  We are all very excited to get started.  I hope that you and your families are enjoying your summer.





What is the definition of “Pedagogy”, and why do I need to know that?

Pedagogy: n.  the art or science of teaching  (Webster’s New World Dictionary)

Words are very powerful things!  They can bring us joy; they can anger us; they can relieve us and they can teach us.  One single word can make all the difference in the world!

Words can cause confusion, and they can change our entire perception of something. Here’s a recent example of how the innocent use of one word can change 6 months of hard work:

In the Jacksonville Jewish News (June 2014 edition), which I received at home this past weekend, an article that I wrote was printed on page 9.  The article was meant to introduce our community to the exciting new components of our Religious School for next year.  For the past 6 months, a very hard-working Task Force has been studying new ways for us to present our current curriculum in a more appealing, child-friendly and “21st Century” way. Our goal was to create more engagement with our students and parents, and to update our teaching methods and programs.  There was never any thought along the way of changing our curriculum.

Curriculum is what we teach.   How we teach our curriculum is called PEDAGOGY.   The changes and additions that we decided to make were PEDAGOGIC changes.  That means that we have not in any way changed our curriculum (what we learn), but rather how we choose to teach it.

My article reflected this change, but a newly-created headline read:

Bernard & Alice Selevan Religious School re-imagines its curriculum

Let me assure you: our curriculum has NOT been re-imagined in any way!  As I continue to blog this summer, updating you on all of the shifts and additions that will be taking place, I hope that you will keep in mind that the only curriculum changes you will see next year will be to add on to our previously approved excellent curriculum.  You may see some updated materials, new methods, and new teachers, but you will NOT see any of our curriculum eliminated or set aside.

My hopes are that you will check in from time to time to keep up with our progress.  I encourage comments and suggestions as we work hard to incorporate this improved pedagogy at the Bernard & Alice Selevan Relgious School.

Registration has begun.  Please log on to the “Registration” page on our BASRS website (click on the parent portal) and sign up now!

All the best,



Religious School: “Re-Imagined” for 2014-2015

We have been approved!  The Task Force for Re-Imagination has been working very hard for the past 5 months, exploring new exciting and appealing ways for our children to learn to love Judaism.  A month ago, I reported our newly approved “Vision” (see “New Visions of BASRS”). Last week, the Religious School committee and the Galinsky Education Cabinet unanimously approved and applauded our final plan.  We will be providing more details throughout the summer, but in a nutshell:

New Components proposed:

1)      Shabbatot  We will provide special BASRS programs; a combo of Friday, Saturday and one overnight for grades 3-7 in the spring.  These are meant to bring our entire school together on Shabbat, and to provide family-friendly activities for parents and students. The goal is to become familiar with our Shabbat services together, putting into practice everything that our children learn in school.  I look forward to spending Shabbat with all of you!

2)      Class Mitzvah Projects – chosen at the beginning of the year with parents, and worked on throughout the year.  These will include a variety of social action projects as well as ritual mitzvot.   2 special “Mitzvah Days” will be set aside to work together on our chosen projects during the school year.

3)      Sunday Schedule Our current curricular themes will remain the same:                     K & 1:  Concentration on Holidays, symbols, Bible stories, mitzvot                                   2nd:  Holidays and synagogue observance, Mitzvot, Bible heroes                                     3rd:  Home and Holiday customs, Mitzvot, weekly parashah                                               4th:  Modern Israel, Life Cycle                                                                                             5th:  History, Ethics, Kashrut, intro to Jewish Texts                                                               6th & 7th:  Currently using Etgar “Challenge” curriculum, which pulls together all of the info that they’ve had in the past and applies these lessons to their lives today.  Experiential and arts-based, and great for the wide variance in educational backgrounds of our middle school students

So, what’s been changed?

Class schedules will remain the same (at least for this year) in Kindergarten, 1st grade, and our middle school.  For grades 2-5, specialists will be presenting the curriculum differently: Judaism through the Arts!  This will be a rotation of the following classes on Sundays:

Music:  Traditional and new holiday music,  Ruach/camp songs, new tunes for t’fillah,  Hebrew songs, Israeli dance

Storytelling/literature:   Learn our Bible stories through reading and drama, study Jewish history through literature and personal accounts, interpret and discuss Jewish values and Jewish identity, or explore sifrei kodesh (our holy books).  Family members and others invited as guest readers

Technology/21st Century:  Visit Israel, museums, and people all over the globe, play games, practice Hebrew skills, journal and blog.  Research modern and ancient history, experience interactive lessons & videos on all subjects, and witness a personal life cycle event.  We will continue to utilize the computers for Wednesday self-paced Hebrew skills

Arts & Crafts (including cooking):  Enjoy kashrut lessons through cooking and menu planning, create forever keepsakes while learning about holiday symbols and Jewish family traditions,  Participate in holiday customs in real time.  We may invite guest artists from congregation and parents

T’fillah with Rabbi Tilman will be divided into small class groupings, and will be used to reinforce the prayer skills learned in class on Wednesdays.  This will replace a formal Hebrew class on Sundays.

4)      Wednesday schedule:

  • Grades 6 & 7 will continue with Etgar Curriculum
  • Grades 2-5 will continue to utilize self-paced program
  • Hours will be 4:30-6:30 (earlier release!)
  • One Hebrew class per grade, which will include self-paced learning as well as a time for group learning/Hebrew games/songs
  • T’fillah with Rabbi Tilman for 15 minutes in small groups
  • No formal “dinner time” in the middle of the schedule to interrupt and distract students.

NEW!  4:30-5:00:  “Snack & Learn” as students come into school.

  • Students can eat sandwiches and snacks; bagels provided at minimal cost
  • Parents encouraged to join us instead of dropping off children at 4:30
  • Lots of opportunities to provide traditional holiday foods!
  • Great time for visiting clergy:                                                                                          –  Ask the Rabbi with Rabbi Lubliner                                                                              –  Ruach or Holiday songs with Hazzan Holzer
  • Discussion “themes” provided    (a la adult “Lunch & Learn”)

 5)      Online Hebrew

  • An online Hebrew component will allow students to reinforce and enrich their newly-learned Hebrew skills during the week.
  • Parents will be encouraged to continue to learn Hebrew skills, too
  • On-line learning center and BASRS website for practice at home, at your convenience.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         *****Added benefits of our new plan:

*Parents can be involved in almost all of the above!                                                                – Visiting story readers, artists, Mitzvah project                                                                      – Wednesday “Snack& Learn”                                                                                                 – Shabbaton involvement as a family

*Camp-like atmosphere:                                                                                                          – Madrachim (teen assistants) will be involved as the team leaders                                       – We will use Hebrew names for each activity and increase our Hebrew vocabulary                  (conversational)

*Increased clergy involvement (all grades) with Rabbi Tilman scheduled daily

The staff and I will be working hard this summer as we rework our curriculum and explore new ways to teach our students all about our wonderful culture!  More opportunities to learn and enjoy Judaism will be presented soon, including a revival of our Family Services and new Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes.  We’ll provide adult education for parents once again, and more engaging teen involvement.

Please watch this site throughout the summer for more exciting news!

Wishing all of you a healthy and happy summer (and don’t forget that we are still open on Shabbat – we’d love to see you!),



The Survey Results Are In!

Our annual faculty and parent surveys have wrapped up, and I have good news to report this year!

FACULTY SURVEY:  My staff has ended the year on a very postive note.  Our Overall Satisfaction from teachers is up from 7.82 (last year) to an 8.6.  Every other score also went up.  The most significant was in approval of the teacher evaluation process and the collaborative culture among the faculty, as well as our respect for each other’s opinions.  We are lucky to have such a dedicated and close staff; it is what sets the overall friendly and welcoming atmosphere in our school.

PARENT SURVEY:  This year’s survey reflected the hard work that our school has put in to make changes.  Last year’s survey, although decent, gave us lots of input on what we were doing right as well as the areas in which we need to improve, and we paid close attention!  Again, EVERY score this year was higher than last year’s!

Our Overall Satisfaction showed a very significant change, increasing almost two full points from a 5.6 to a 7.43. Thank you for your confidence in us!

Other significant gains were made in important areas:

The biggest increase was “The education offered at our school is high quality“, which changed from a 5.5 last year to a 7.31 this year, a whopping 2.81 point increase.

Our highest mark at 9.09 was “Principal is responsive and accessable”, which went up 1.66 points (last year: 7.33). Principal serves as a role model for life-long learning, committment and ethical behavior rose from 7.17 to an 8.8 (1.63 points).  Providing learning opportunities for parents rose 1.17 points from a 6.83 to an 8.

Another very large gain was “Principal shares a comprehensive vision of school goals“.  It went from a 5.83 to an 8.55 – a gain of 2.72 points.  This is a direct response to last year’s survey, which showed me that we needed to work in this area.

Other significant improvements were teachers using varying resources and activities to address different learning styles, and our parents showed increased approval of already high marks in website and regular communication of events.

In comments, some parents felt that there were a few weaknesses in our staff, and were mostly concerned with the communication between staff and parents. Our lowest rating was a  6.36, which was in receiving consistent communication relating to my child’s progress. Other low scores (all in the range of 6.5-7) were in teaching methods. Although all of these showed increased values since last year, they will, of course, be addressed and corrected as best we can.  Positive remarks were made about the caring and enthusiastic environment, and our clergy involvement.

Personally, I really felt that we had a very good year this year overall, with only a few of the usual exceptions.  I am delighted that there seems to be more of a comfort level for parents to communicate with me, which is crucial.  I certainly hope this will continue!  We have also had a definite increase in the number of parents who have asked to be more involved in our school. This was a big part of the conversation as we “re-imagined” next year.   I am eager to unveil our new program for the 2014-2015 school year, which is awaiting approval (this week!) from the proper committees.  Look for this very exciting information soon!

The printed survey results are in my office.  If you would like to look at the details, please feel free to come in and look at it.  My door is always open.

The only way that we can continue to improve the Bernard & Alice Selevan Religious School is to hear from those of you involved.  Thanks to all of you who took the time to fill out this survey, and for helping us reach this much advanced level this year by providing your honest critiques.  We are all looking forward to reaching even higher next year!

Todah Rabbah,





New Visions of BASRS – update #1

In February, our “Task Force for Re-Imagination” met for the first time.  We began our process by passionately discussing our goals and identifying the characteristics that we would like to see in our Religious School graduates.  After much consideration, we came up with the following vision:

To develop a passionate and joyful Jewish identity along with the skills and knowledge to practice Judaism; to inspire students to a life time commitment of Jewish learning, community involvement and ethical action.

The Bernard and Alice Selevan Religious School is a place where:

-we form a warm, caring community where we learn about our rich cultural heritage, traditions, and our connection to ancient and modern Israel together

-our children learn Jewish values through study of Torah and hands-on practice of mitzvot

-our graduates are comfortable with siddur Hebrew, the teachings of Conservative Judaism, and actively participating in services.

-our staff and clergy are role models, providing a caring link to events in and out of our synagogue

-our students make lifetime friendships and begin their journey to becoming proud participants and leaders in the next generation of Jews

-we value the partnership which exists between school, parents, and community, and the part it plays in realizing this vision

Our next step is to formulate a program that will allow us to carry out our new vision.  In a passionate discussion last week, we were able to identify several  components that we would all like to see in the future:

1)      Increased family involvement on Shabbat

2)      An ongoing social action project – one that our parents can also be involved with

3)      More cultural experiential activities

4)      An online Hebrew component

5)      More contact with clergy for our children

6)      Increased opportunities for parents to be involved

7)      A continuation of self-paced Hebrew program, 21st Century Learning

Taking these into consideration, we are now working on an outline of a package which we hope will be more appealing and educational for our children, with increased opportunities for parent participation.  Most importantly, we want our students to leave us with joyful memories that will inspire them to continue to proudly practice our rich Jewish traditions for the rest of their lives.

By the end of April, we hope to have the outline of a new and exciting program for our Religious School families, to begin later this year (2014-2015 school year).  Thank you to everyone involved in this process.  Please watch this spot for more updates in the coming weeks!

Wishing all of you a wonderful Passover,