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Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 10_4_30
04/30/2010 02:57 PM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon

by David Lyon

4-30-2010

At Beth Israel, it’s not our custom to create a theme for Shabbat. Shabbat is the theme! However, this evening, we’re taking the opportunity to highlight Jewish education as a Jewish value. It sounds like an obvious Jewish value, but there is more to it than you might think.

In Torah, parents first learn about their obligations to teach their children. In Deuteronomy 6:4ff, we read, “You shall teach them (mitzvot) to your children.” This marks the beginning of a curriculum that is further developed in Talmud. From an early age, as young as 3, children are involved in Jewish life through basic prayers, a little study, and imitation. Reciting Shema at bedtime, participating in holidays and Shabbat, and following parents’ examples connect them to the rhythm of Jewish life.

Talmud also recognizes that not every parent can be the sole provider of their children’s Jewish education. Nevertheless, they are duty-bound to teach them. Talmud makes it possible for them to hire teachers to stand in for them. At best, it should be a teacher who is knowledgeable and doesn’t make mistakes, and one who gets along well with the children and turns Jewish learning into joyful Jewish lessons.

At Beth Israel, both Torah and Talmud are reflected in the ways Jewish learning is provided to our children. From pre-k to 12th grade, Beth Israel Religious School welcomes children to learn, explore, and participate in every facet of Jewish lessons, holidays, and experiences. From 18 months through 5th grade, Beth Israel’s Shlenker School provides an outstanding Jewish day school education in spectacular facilities and in the presence of award-winning teachers and staff. Beth Israel rabbis and cantor have full roles in both schools and the children have come to know them as teachers and as partners in Jewish life.
Some adults look back on their Jewish education with great pride. They recall their favorite teachers and their favorite lessons. Some adults look back and wonder what it was all about. It’s reminiscent of the Four Children on Passover. We recognize that everyone comes to Jewish life and learning with different attitudes; but, we also recognize that everyone deserves a chance to learn in their own way. Every question deserves an answer; every Jewish child and adult is a Jewish learner; and every day at Beth Israel is dedicated to excellence in Jewish education in religious school and The Shlenker School.

When children graduate from our schools, they are not dispersed never to be heard from again. Unlike public schools, we maintain strong ties with them. An e-newsletter to college students, letters to alumni, and a special Shabbat dedicated to the roots of our Jewish future complete the circle that always begins and ends and begins again at Beth Israel.

I am personally grateful to Barbara Garber, Religious School Director, Ricki Komiss, Head of The Shlenker School, and their faculties and staffs, for their unwavering passion and dedication to excellence in Jewish education. We worship God, we study Torah, and we teach it to our children. We say, “Am Yisrael Chai,” The people of Israel lives through Torah we give to our children. There is no greater duty than that.

 

From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

_________________________________________________

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