BJE Builder - Sharone Weizman, Director of Education and Youth Programming Kehillat Ma’Arav
Kehillat Ma’arav believes that education is the cornerstone of Jewish life. Education is an entry to Jewish history, practice, traditions, and beliefs, and helps instill values and a sense of community. We take an active approach to learning and get the students out of their seats and engaged so they experience Jewish life, rather than just learn about it.
Education should never stop—we all continue to grow and learn throughout life. This means our teachers and educators also must grow and adapt to reach an increasingly diverse community. This does not mean discarding the past to address current concerns; rather, our educators build on the past, remaining true to our principles and traditions, while responding to current issues, questions, and challenges.
Our educators bring great experience, training, and qualifications to their mission. But more than anything, they are involved members of the congregation and broader world. Their work does not stop in the classroom, but extends to all aspects of our community’s programs and activities. They listen to the congregation and try to provide programs that meet its needs. The can be seen in our religious school structure and curriculum. The core curriculum remains foundational—Hebrew, liturgy, practice, history and culture—but the specific courses and the teaching modes change over time, based on both the strength and skills of the teachers and the demands of the community. This approach has been very successful at teaching generations of children at KM and, we believe, can be a model for other programs.
From the first shelter-in-place order, our religious school director reached out to parents to keep them engaged and to hear and address their concerns. We created on-line courses that were designed to keep students engaged—they remain experiential while being on Zoom—and created many opportunities for students and families to remain involved. Our director held weekly meetings with families to share stories, provide news, plan for the year, and make a virtual community. While a handful of families chose not to participate this year due to the pandemic, the vast majority remained involved, and some new students joined. The transition went smoothly, and while we cannot wait to meet in-person when the pandemic is over, some practices we developed to deal with the current restrictions may continue when it is over as it helps bring us together in new and interesting ways.
Sharone Weizman is being recognized at BJE's "Out of the Box" Gala on February 5. For more information about who is being recognized and how to participate, please go to www.bjela.org/gala.
For more information about Kehillat Ma'arav, please click here for their website.