Rabbi-Educator's Message: December 2013
|Joe Eiduson, Rabbi-Educator|
We are always delighted to see the happy faces of our students enjoying their experience here at Congregation B'nai Shalom, and we thank you for entrusting their Jewish education to us. As you may know, we are striving to be an even more connected community, and we are looking at our educational programs as one avenue for achieving our greater congregational vision. It is widely accepted among professional Jewish educators that the usual model guiding Jewish learning is overdue for an overhaul. Currently, many congregations employ a 1950s educational model based on offering children several hours per week of structured classroom learning, while adults separately access adult education classes on whatever topic the rabbis feel like presenting. It is a system that generally bypasses those life-affirming, family, and community-based Jewish learning experiences that can form the foundation of a meaningful, engaging, and sustaining complementary Jewish educational program.
It is with these and other concerns that we are in the midst of creating a process we are calling Congregation B'nai Shalom 21st Century (CBS21), which, we believe, will help us revitalize our educational offerings in preschool through 6th grade for students and their parents. CBS21 will be an 18–24 month process guided by our professional staff, intended to create and implement new models of Jewish learning for parents and students in these grade groups. We are one of a number of synagogues in the United States engaged in this type of work.
CBS21 begins with an examination of our current educational experiences and offerings, which leads to a vision of what learning could look like. Following that, we move into a design phase to build the programs and structures to implement the vision. Throughout the process, we will actively seek input and feedback from both the B'nai Shalom community and the other synagogues going through a similar process. The Congregation B'nai Shalom piece of all of this will be done by a task force, guided by our professional staff.
The initial phase of CBS21 will be a series of "Demo Days" to take place November 2013 through February 2014. On selected Sunday mornings, parents are invited to attend religious school with their children for joint educational activities, and also for a parent session with Rabbi Eiduson and members of the Youth and School Committee, during which parents will be asked a series of questions regarding parent and child participation in our programs. We will be seeking your feedback on what we are currently doing and your thoughts about next steps in our educational vision. Please note the following dates:
November 24 – Kindergarten December 8 – Grade 2
January 12 – Grade 3
February 2 – Grades 4 and 5
February 9 – Grade 6
We hope you will mark your calendar today and join us for these sessions. If you have more than one child in these grades, do not feel obligated to attend all of the sessions, although you are welcome at any of them. Thank you!
Rabbi Joe Eiduson, RJE