Beit Sefer Religious School
Religious school is a cornerstone of Temple Sholom
About Religious Education at Temple Sholom of Chicago
• Beit Sefer Shalom Religious School (Jr. K-7th Grade)
• Pathways/Netivot Shalom (8th Grade)
• Crown Family High School/Tichon Shalom (9th-12th grade)
Children of member families are eligible to enroll in Religious School/Beit Sefer Shalom which meets Sunday mornings, 9:30 a.m. – 12:05 p.m., September – May. Sunday classes are for Junior Kindergarten through 8th grade. Pathways/Netivot Shalom for 8th grade students also meets on Sunday mornings.
6th grade students participate in a B’nai Mitzvah preparation course which meets twice weekly. 3rd-5th grade students are strongly encouraged to participate in our Midweek Hebrew program, which offers an additional hour of Hebrew instruction that is crucial to learning language and contributes to stronger Jewish identity and relationships with peers. Students can choose either Tuesday afternoons from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. or Wednesday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Family involvement and participation are integral parts of our school program; they demonstrate that Jewish commitment and involvement do not begin and end with becoming B’nai Mitzvah, but are lifelong endeavors and that the family is the cornerstone of Jewish living. Please join us for our family holiday celebrations, Yom Horim parent-child learning days throughout the year (see calendar for schedule of events), and Sunday morning adult education classes.
Crown Family High School/Tichon Shalom, 9th-12th grades, meets on Wednesday evenings from 6:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Beit Sefer Shalom Religious School Overview
Students in Junior Kindergarten through 2nd Grade spend the entire morning with their teacher in one classroom. Each teacher has at least one teen madrich/madricha (teacher assistant) from our high school youth group community. Students are introduced to Hebrew in these grades and begin learning the alef-bet. Our Music Specialist meets with each class every morning to teach songs about Jewish themes in both Hebrew and English. Junior Congregation, a brief worship experience featuring visits from our clergy and lots of singing, is held monthly at 11:30AM. Parents are invited and encouraged to participate in Junior Congregation to nurture your child’s spiritual development and join in the fun!
For students in 3rd-7th grade, the schedule on Sunday morning consists of two one-hour instructional periods (one period of Jewish Studies and one period of Hebrew), and a half hour for T’filah (prayer) or the occasional special program. Once a month, 6th-8th graders join Rabbi Gellman and Cantor Ben David for a special student-led t’filah (prayer) in our Beit Midrash. This gives our upcoming and recent B’nai Mitzvah students a chance to lead their peers as they prepare for, and return from, leading our congregation on Shabbat. NEW! 7th & 8th graders also have the opportunity to participate in a monthly Ma’amad (creative prayer experience) on Sundays.
The goals of our Beit Sefer Shalom Religious School are:
• To provide a joyful, high-quality and inclusive Jewish education for students from
preschool through high school.
• To immerse students in a learner-centered, diverse, and inclusive community that
cares about them
• To lead students towards an awareness of themselves as Jews and an understanding of their Jewish heritage and traditions
• To foster a love of Torah and pride of being Jewish
• To instill in students a timeline of Jewish history
• To develop in our children a positive, joyous, and resilient Jewish identity and a
kinship with the Jewish People
• To illustrate historic Jewish beliefs about God and help students explore the God
of their own understanding
• To teach students to read and appreciate the Hebrew language with an emphasis on developing competence and confidence in leading a prayer service
• To cultivate knowledge of and connection the Land and People of Israel
• To help young people appreciate the role of Jewish values and ethics in becoming menschen (good people) and pursuers of social justice
• To build meaningful relationships amongst students and with teens, faculty, educators and clergy
• To nurture the desire to be lifelong learners and to live fulfilling Jewish lives
With this year’s theme, Hineih Mah Tov, we celebrate the power of gathering together.
In our Beit Sefer Shalom Religious School this year, we will offer new opportunities to
build community amongst our students, including:
• JK-2nd Grade Children’s Shabbat Experience as part of Shabbat Mishpacha
• 3rd Grade Orientation to the sanctuary, t’filah, and our formal Hebrew program
• 3rd-6th Grade Midweek t’filah (prayer) and Hebrew Through Movement
• Additional 6th & 7th Grade Yom Horim (Parents’ Day) experiences
• 7th & 8th Grade Ma’amad (creative prayer ritual) monthly gatherings
• 9th-12th Grade trip to New Orleans and multi-denominational Tikkun Chicago
• Parallel learning for parents on Sundays and weeknights related to student topics
As indicated by the Hebrew name of our Religious School, Beit Sefer Shalom, we are a
home of peaceful learning. We hope students will find time at Temple Sholom to be a
break from stressful routines during the rest of the week – a chance to be themselves
while addressing big questions of life and learning about answers Judaism offers.
When we ask parents to share their goals as part of Religious School registration, we
most commonly hear about Jewish learning, community, tradition, Hebrew, culture,
identity and values. We encourage you to find a way to discuss and model your goals
with your children, so that their experience connects to their home life outside our walls.
If your goal is Jewish learning: consider taking an adult education class (offered six days
a week), and joining us for Yom Horim (Parents’ Day) programs offered for each grade.
If your goal is community or friendships: encourage your child to connect with peers
through 3rd-12th grade youth group events, weekend retreats, and our midweek Kef
(fun) club. But also, make time for yourself to connect to other families through our
Mishpacha (Family) events like Shabbat Mishpacha dinners and our JK-4th Grade
Mishpacha (Family) Camp Getaway.
If your goal is social justice, morals or values: get involved in our weekly Monday meal,
Sunday morning Feed the Hungry, or other one-time or ongoing projects.
If your goal is connection to tradition, Hebrew, or spirituality: join us on Friday nights,
Saturday mornings or Saturday afternoon for our musical and inspiring Shabbat services.
If your child has to miss a day of Religious School this year, attending a Shabbat service
is the best way to make up for it! Junior Congregation is another opportunity for JK-2nd
grade families to connect with our clergy on Sunday mornings.
If your goal is nurturing a love of Jewish culture or identity: studies have shown that
Jewish camping, Israel trips and family education are the strongest influences on
positive Jewish identity. Consider joining us for our June 2020 Congregational Israel Trip,
trying out our own URJ Camp OSRUI, or joining us for family experiences and
celebrations throughout the year.
Looking forward to a sweet new year of enjoying how good it is to be together!
Temple Sholom strongly encourages our students to enrich their Jewish identity by attending Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI), the Union for Reform Judaism camp located in Wisconsin.
A pacesetter in Jewish camping, OSRUI offers campers an exciting summer of Jewish living and learning. Temple Sholom offers generous partial scholarships to OSRUI to those congregants who qualify.