Back to School | Local

Local Jewish schools change it up for back-to-school

welcome-back-chalkboard-sign400A new school year is beginning and innovative plans are on the agenda for Tucson’s Jewish schools.

Congregation Bet Shalom’s religious school is adding a seventh and eighth grade Sunday program that will combine text study with “inspirational informal learning.” It will include a class on the Mishnah, which codified the Oral Laws of early Jewish tradition, and a class on Chumash (the Torah) and Rashi, the Biblical sage of the Middle Ages. A junior USY program will incorporate ethics, games and mitzvah projects. CBS also will offer a free kindergarten/first grade religious school class. (Phone: 577-1171)

At Congregation Anshei Israel, which offers free kindergarten religious school tuition, all religious school students will choose electives for alternate Sundays, including creative arts, Israeli dance, drama, music (instrumental) and social action projects. On non-elective Sundays all students will receive vocal/choir instruction. The seventh and eighth grade program will combine formal instruction, a social component and a social action project each Tuesday. CAI’s preschool/kindergarten has two new enrichment programs: “Creative Movement” taught by a fitness instructor and “Magical Movement” taught by a dance therapist. (Phone: 745-5550)

New offerings at Congregation Or Chadash include a high school level class, “Eating Globally, Locally — The History of Food, Ethics and Rituals,” which will include food tastings and visits to local restaurants and markets. The class, which will meet twice a month on Sundays, is open to nonmembers. The B’nai Mitzvah program will include a retreat later this month for seventh grade students and their families. COC’s parent-tot program for ages 2 1/2 to 5, which is open to all, will draw on two books by Maxine Segal Handelman, “What’s Jewish about Butterflies?” and “Jewish Every Day” (co-authored by Deborah L. Schein). (Phone: 512-8500)

Tucson Hebrew Academy has been awarded a grant from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality to participate in its Tikkun Middot Project by developing a curriculum exploring Jewish ethics, also known as Mussar. This will involve classroom teaching, community outreach, family education and staff development. In conjunction with the grant, the school’s discipline and anti-bullying program, known as “Owning Up,” will be revitalized and renamed the “Anna-tude” program, in honor of former THA student Anna Greenberg, who died this summer. An optional tefillah (prayer) enrichment program, based on a successful after-school mindfulness activity, will include activities designed to cultivate focus, relaxation, and inner and outer awareness. (Phone: 529-3888)

Chabad of Tucson will offer “Torah Circle,” a mini-Hebrew school for ages 2 to 5 on the second Sunday of each month. At Chabad’s Mini-Chefs Academy one Monday each month, students ages 5 to 11 will make foods connected to the Jewish holidays. (Phone: 881-7956)

Temple Emanu-El’s Kurn Religious School will institute more class-wide gatherings, including periodic siyyums (celebrations) to share what students have learned after they complete a project or master a specific skill or prayer. Parents will be invited. Temple also will include environmental outings and monthly social action projects in the wider community, such as visiting a senior center. Temple’s Olga and Bob Strauss Early Childhood Education center and kindergarten is introducing an integrated curriculum adapted from the Next Generation Science Standards. Enrichment programs will include sign language, Hebrew, Spanish, cooking and creative movement. (Phone: 327-4501)

Congregation Chaverim will place an emphasis on tzedakah (charity) projects in its religious school. Teens will begin the year by filling backpacks with school supplies for Youth On Their Own, a nonprofit agency that helps homeless teens. The younger grades will continue to contribute to the Homer Davis Elementary School Project, a program of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Jewish Community Relations Council. Chaverim will take the tzedakah focus synagogue-wide with its first Shoe Shabbat, where congregants will bring in gently used shoes for the needy to aid one student’s Bat Mitzvah project. (Phone: 320-1015)

Congregation Chofetz Chayim will offer “Simcha Kids,” a weekly music program for ages 2 to 5, with adult participation. The free program will be held on Thursday afternoons. (Phone: 747-7780)

New at Hebrew High is a “mini-mester” program starting in October, which will run for eight Thursday evenings at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, with a focus on mind, body and soul. A teen membership to use the workout facilities before or after class is included. The first mini-mester class will be held October 10 at The Loft Cinema with a screening and discussion of the film, “The Last Bully.” (Phone: 577-9393)