(Taken from my article in the synagogue’s Monthly Bulletin)
It is with great excitement that we announce the new name of our school: Am Yisrael School of Jewish Studies. For years people have been calling the school connected to our synagogue “Sunday School,” “Religious School” and “Hebrew School” depending on the day of the week or the group meeting. We now have the opportunity to tell our children “today you get to go to Jewish Studies.” Another change this year is that we are now matching the grade levels that the students are in with their Hebrew equivalent (ie. 1st Grade is
now the Aleph Class, 2nd Grade the Bet Class, 3rd Grade the Gimel Class and so on).
There is so much more than just a name change taking place. After an entire year of examining the school’s culture and curriculum, and having conversions with our professional staff, board of trustees and officers, interested congregants, parents, teachers and students, “best practice” colleagues and my National Advisor at United Synagogue, I have analyzed and adjusted several aspects of the school. Here are some of
the modifications that have been made:
1. Our new schedule of classes during the week is as follows: Sundays from
9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.; Wednesdays from 4:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. and once a
month on Shabbat mornings from 9:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. for Kindergarten (Gan)
through 6th Grade (Vav).
2. We will be offering Shabbat Morning Family Programming once a month during the school year: October 22nd, November 19th, January 21st, February 18th, March 17th, April 21st and May 19th. Students and their parents will have an opportunity to learn, pray and
read from the Torah together. Students in the 5th and 6th grades will have an
opportunity to lead portions of the service in the Main Sanctuary on those dates. In
order to partner with our families in the process of giving our students a strong
Jewish identity, we feel that this Shabbat morning component is going to be crucial. We thank everyone in advance for their participation.
3. We are offering formal Hebrew language instruction (including reading Hebrew) beginning in 1st Grade as opposed to 3rd Grade.
4. We are offering photography (through a “Jewish Lens”), newspaper, choir, band, Israel culture and art electives in 3rd through 6th grades.
5. We are partnering with a school in Kiryat Gat to have “classroom-toclassroom” collaborations through our partnership with Chicago-based organization Shorashim.
6. We are partnering with the iCenter on some exciting initiatives regarding Israel
education and hopefully more activities. Their new “Aleph Bet Israel Education” is absolutely cutting-edge.
7. We have set up a grid schedule of classes to offer our students the opportunity to study with more members of the teaching team. As they say, “Variety is
the spice of life.”
8. We have hired three new teachers and welcome them to our Am Yisrael
community: Jamie Cooper, Keith Kanter and Shira Sender.
9. Thanks to generous anonymous donations we now have four SMARTBoards.
10. Thanks to generous anonymous donations we are in the process of adding more laptops to the school for use by our students in the technology driven
portions of the curriculum. Our school curriculum is now between 30 and 50
percent technology focused.
11. We have upgraded our Am Yisrael website to make communication clear
and effective between the school and our families. Simply click on the Education tab of our amyisrael.org website and see our new categories which will be
updated on a regular basis:
-At A Glance (including key dates
and when we meet)
-From our School Director (including
my Educational Philosophy, bio and
my blog entitled “Mr. Sherman’s
-Faculty biographies and pictures
-A Google School and Youth Groups
-Class Home Pages (including regular updates of what is happening in
each class, curriculum outlines,
minute-by-minute schedules, snack
schedules and class assignments
-Learning Resources (both what we
use in our classes and what we recommend for at-home reinforcement)
-A Photo Gallery linked to our
On the class home pages and the Faculty Bio page you will be
able to find everyone’s email amyisrael.org email addresses to further aid in communication between home and school.
12. We have added several new madrichim (teaching assistants)
to our team.
13. We are maintaining Facebook, Twitter and Youtube pages and recommend that you check them out. Links can be found on the left side of our website. Please “Like us on
Facebook,” “Follow us on Twitter,” and check out our Youtube channel.
14. Our school is building a direct relationship with JUF and JChoice.org as we teach our students how to give to those less fortunate.
15. We have a new attendance policy which can be found on the “At A Glance” page and in the Parent Manual on our website.
Our Youth Group is also in full swing. The executive board of AMUSY has been empowered to plan several exciting activities. This gives them an opportunity to serve as
future Jewish leaders and give the participants an opportunity to participate in activities planned by their peers.
Finally, I look forward to seeing everyone at the end of September at High Holiday services. I will be leading Family services once again this year. Please stay tuned to our website, to future bulletin articles and to my weekly email updates for more
information. We encourage anyone who wants to know more about our school for the purposes of recruiting friends or family to our congregation to visit me in the office, before or after services, send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call in the office 847-446-7215 ext. 12 or on my cell phone 847-708-1805.