Asking the big questions

The School of Jewish Studies (SJS) year is winding down and we are
finishing with a flurry of activity. I encourage you to check out my blog https://mrshermansblog.wordpress.com/, and our Am Yisrael Conservative Congregation Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/AmYisrael ConservativeCongregation/200034300018572 and/or
Twitter Account https://twitter.com/#!/amyisrael_cc to read all of the details. When you are on our Facebook or Twitter pages, simply
click on my weekly Limmud E-Newsletter links on those pages to read
and see pictures about all the exciting details of what we have been accomplishing on a week-to-week basis. While you are in the process of visiting those pages, please “Like” us on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter. You can also watch highlights of our Purim Festivities and Tikkun Olam Fair from this year produced by Rob and Lois Neustadt on
our YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/aychai18.  If that isn’t enough internet stimulation, you can find and share pictures and short
videos from our school year by checking out our Flickr Account:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/am_yisrae
l_school_of_jewish_studies/sets/.  Some of recent events include our model
seder, Interfaith Dialogue, B’nai Mitzvah projects, continued Tikkun Olam lunch making for A Just Harvest Shelter, tzedakah giving, grocery shopping and delivery to our Ark Client, participation in Maot Chitim for Pesach, conversations with the students about formal and informal education in our school for next year, age-appropriate commemorations of Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut, a celebration of Israel’s 64th year of Independence. I will write about our final activities in my next bulletin article.

At the end of the day, however, what is most important? What are our
assessment tools to make sure we are reaching our goals? Do the students
who walk through our doors leave school with a sense of accomplishment
and meaning? Have they explored concepts and themes important to their
Jewish identities? Can they recite prayers with ruach (spirit)? Are they
learning about Israel, the weekly Torah portion and developing spiritual connections? Have they deepened friendships and relationships with their classmates? Do they have a better sense of their Jewish history, culture and community? Do they have a perspective on how they can repair the world and make it a better place? Do they have an appreciation for Shabbat and the holidays? Are we “reaching our students where they are at?” Are the students
using the best of the past as well as cutting edge aspects of the present curriculum? Are the technological advances we are using enhancing the
learning experience? Are we communicating what is happening in the school
so that parents and other family members know what is going on? Are we
capturing the moments and sharing them properly? Are we using the best
curricula to reach our goals? Are we utilizing the skills of our teachers,
Hebrew tutors and madrichim (teaching assistants) to maximize their
potential? These are the big questions for me as the School Director and
frankly the most important questions about the education and experience of
our students at the Am Yisrael School of Jewish Studies. These are the questions that frame everything we do at our school.

As I constantly attempt to answer these “big questions” with Rabbi Newman Kamin, Cantor Simon, Nancy Holab Nevins and other members of our faculty and staff, we see an evolving school. A big “Todah Rabbah” (thank you) goes to the parents who support our school and our entire team who make it happen dayin and day-out. We are incredibly satisfied with the accomplishments we have made this year and look forward to continuing to progress now and into the future. Thank you for joining us on this Jewish Journey. May we continue to move forward from strength to strength to advance Jewish learning and the overall experience of our students and their families in the Am Yisrael School of Jewish Studies.

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