Eitz Chayim & Gesher

Bearing the Fruit of Reform Jewish Living and Learning!

We are a community committed to nurturing an active, Jewish environment that engages, cultivates and inspires learners of all ages

Download Family Handbook

Welcome to Eitz Chayim and Gesher, our kindergarten through sixth grade learning program at Congregation B’nai Shalom! Eitz Chayim launched as a brand new program in the fall of 2015.  What is new and different about Religious School at Congregation B’nai Shalom?  Here’s a taste of what your family will find:

  1. Our focus is on learning through authentic Jewish learning experiences for children and families.
  2. Relationship and community building between children and families is now a visibly central goal of our program.
  3. Our educators engage children and adults in Jewish life and learning.
  4. Learning experiences are deepened and made more relevant through hands on learning.  Instead of relying on textbooks as the centerpiece of the learning experience, books have become resources for learning driven by children’s questions.
  5. Hebrew learning begins in Kindergarten and reading skill acquisition begins in 3rd grade and continues with small group instruction through 6th grade.
  6. Inclusion is important to us and our school programs. We provide learning specialists to work with students and families who need additional assistance!

In every classroom we focus on Jewish learning and religious exploration. But with students that come from dozens of different secular and private schools, building Jewish community is another integrated part of our curriculum.

Our school is divided into four Y’chidot or Units.  Click on a link below to explore your child’s Y’chidah!

Shoresh – Grades Kindergarten & OneIMG_20160410_091536976

Gezah – Grades Two & Three

Anaf – Grades Four & Five

Gesher – Grade Six


Mifgash – Small Group Gatherings

Mifgash (pronounced “meefgahsh” – plural is mifgashim) is Hebrew for “gathering or encounter.” Mifgashim provide a way for children to get to know a small group of peers and to feel a sense of belonging within the larger grade. Each child has the potential to share an especially close connection with our faculty and Madrichim who are leading his or her mifgash group, as this person monitors each student’s needs and progress, communicates with families regularly, and establishes relationships with parents in order to best understand the “whole child.” Mifgash time is modeled on the typical “morning meeting” from school (in age appropriate ways), and may include:

  • “Checking in” with one another and setting the tone for learning together
  • Review of the Jewish calendar with attention called to holidays and upcoming events
  • Recognition of birthdays and other important life events (a new sibling, or a family member who isn’t feeling well)
  • Regular routines that use Hebrew language to establish patterns of activity and allow the children to hear and speak Hebrew
  • Learning and singing songs
  • Playing games
  • Sharing Torah stories
  • Reading and listening to simple books in Hebrew or English

 Clearly, not all of the above are accomplished during every Mifgash session.  This is a sampling of the types of activities – and pedagogic goals – that the faculty have in mind as they are carefully crafting this important group time together.

Mitkadem Hebrew Program

Beginning as an optional program in grade 3 and continuing as a required program for grades 4 – 6, students attend school either Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday afternoons for Hebrew instruction.   Mitkadem is our Hebrew curriculum containing 23 ramot (levels) through which students work independently or in pairs, progressing on their own pace as they master the content of a ramah (level). Mitkadem’s self-paced and child-centered approach allows each student to achieve according to their own ability and teachers are able to adjust the program according to each child’s abilities.

Retreats and Seminars

Overnight and Seminar Educational Programs for 2017-2018 / 5778 School Year

Grade                                     Date                                       Event                                      

6th Grade Gesher            10/27 – 10/28 2017            Retreat and Shabbaton (Camp Ramah New England)

General Trip Descriptions

4th and 5th grade- Our Anaf/WAFTY Lite Shul-In (sleep over) begins with Shabbat Rishon Services followed by an evening of food, fun, movies and finally, a giant sleep-over in the Social Hall.  On Saturday morning students enjoy a special morning of programming prior to pick up!

6th Grade – Gesher students will travel by bus to Eisner Camp in Great Barrington, MA for an overnight of celebrating Shabbat in prayer, music and Torah. This trip offers the students an opportunity to discover our Eitz Chayim Torah theme, to build community with their classmates and have fun.

6th, 7th and 8th grade – Our Jr. WAFTY Shul-In (sleep over) begins with Havdalah and then students board a bus and head out to a surprise activity with food and fun.  On Sunday morning we venture out again for leadership and teambuilding activities.

PJ Our Way oflogofers the gift of exceptional books with Jewish themes to kids ages 9-11 – books that they choose themselves! Every month, from the 1st – 10th, kids visit this website to choose a book from a selection of four high-quality titles that have been reviewed by a panel of PJ educators, parents, and kids. That’s 12 free books a year! To make the choice easier, every title offered comes with a synopsis and author bios, ratings and reviews, and video trailers. Kids can also take polls and quizzes, participate in monthly interviews and challenges, and comment on blog posts.


Click HERE to explore PJ Our Way!