The shofar has been sounded during the Hebrew month of Elul, the new markers have been taken out of their boxes, the new Hebrew textbooks and Tanakhim (Hebrew Bibles) have been removed from their cellophane wrappings, the SMARTBoards, laptops, iPads, digital cameras are powered on and the Am Yisrael School of Jewish Studies has been launched. Jewish music, the Aleph-Bet and conversations about Israel and repairing the world around us are in full force at Am Yisrael. We are proud to be the first congregational school on the North Shore to have had the first SMARTBoard and now we are the first to have four of them. The teachers are using technology as a successful tool toward the learning process because it is meeting our students where they are. We have new students walking through our doors and the largest group of primary grade students (32) between Gan (Kindergarten) and Bet (2nd Grade) in several years. We have a cutting edge web site with easy to navigate pages, highlighted by the Class Home Pages. I would match our teachers with those of any congregational school in the area. We also have 35 post-B’nai Mitzvah students which is another exciting development.
Our developing relationships with the JUF, JChoice.org, the iCenter, Shorashim, the Jewish Educator’s Assembly, CFJE, Walder Education Pavilion, BJE Chicago’s Marshall Jewish Learning Center and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism help us to reach places we could never otherwise see. Please visit our website, amyisrael.org regularly, as you will be able to read weekly messages from our faculty and learn about our new chugim (special activities) program, featuring the following: school choir, band, newspaper,Jewish Lens/photography, Israeli culture and specialized art. All of the events are on the full school and youth groups calendar. I am maintaining Mr. Sherman’s Blog, which incorporate my philosophy of education and documentation of the school year. Most importantly, the students are forming positive Jewish memories through formal and informal education. There are numerous learning resources on the website, including Cantor Simon’s prayer service chantings.
The present and future of Jewish education at Am Yisrael is extremely bright and there are too many people to thank in this article. I encourage you to follow my monthly articles in the synagogue’s bulletin and share our website and my contact information with anyone whom you know who is looking for a “best practice” school for their child, grandchild, niece, nephew or friend. I can be reached by calling the synagogue office 847-446-7215 ext. 12, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or cell phone 847-708-1805. The High Holiday services are a great way to start the Jewish new year and they feature programming for babies through teenagers, at the Tot, Family and Tween/Young Adult Kavanah services. My wife Laura and our boys Michael, Gabe and I want to take this time to wish you and your families a Shanah Tovah u’Mitukah, a good, sweet new year.