Back to School | Local

New year brings innovation to Tucson Jewish schools

Tucson’s Jewish schools are heading into the new school year with new programs and teachers on tap.

As Tucson Hebrew High begins its 37th year, Rabbi Yudi Ceitlin joins the faculty, teaching a course on overlooked epic moments in history. Cantor Janece Cohen will direct the first Tucson Hebrew High Singing Ensemble. All classes meet Tuesday nights at Congregation Anshei Israel, with free dinner and homework lounge starting at 5:45. The Hebrew for Credit program, now accepted by additional secular high schools, will meet at a new time, 5-8 p.m., which also includes dinner. (Phone: 577-9393).

The religious school at Congregation Or Chadash has added Judaic, cooking and bibliodrama electives for students in preschool through fifth grades. All middle school students now have an opportunity to participate in the Or Chadash Temple Youth group. The confirmation class will be a two-year program for nine and 10th grades, focusing on social action in our community and how Judaism can positively influence American citizenship, tracing American Jews from Revolutionary times to the present day. (Phone: 512-8500)

Temple Emanu-El’s Kurn Religious School is planning a series of murals for its biblical garden, representing the books of the Torah. The designs will be done by the students, but parents, faculty and madrichim (teenage teacher aides) will play a role. The Olga and Bob Strauss Early Childhood Education center and kindergarten program at Temple Emanu-El is adding yoga, cooking and hip hop dance, and expanding its other weekly enrichment classes, which include sign language, puppet theatre, music, Hebrew, physical education and Spanish. (Phone: 327-4501).

Congregation Anshei Israel’s preschool/kindergarten has introduced a new enrichment program for 4- and 5-year-olds, science taught by Margaret Barber. The CAI religious school includes free enrollment in Junior USY (United Syn­a­gogue Youth) for all seventh and eighth graders. Free tuition continues for kindergarteners. Beginning this fall, CAI will offer new family educational programming, including “Havdalah under the Stars,” “Shema Sweet Dreams,” “Family Game Night & BBQ,” and an “Israeli Night.” (Phone: 745-5550)

Congregation Bet Shalom, which is continuing its free kindergarten and first grade Sunday Hebrew school program, is introducing a new, nationally acclaimed interactive curriculum, based on Jewish texts. Along with classes taught by Rabbi Billy Lewkowicz, Bet Shalom is adding music classes by Cantor Avraham Alpert, who also teaches tefillot (prayer) for all ages. Seventh and eighth graders will begin conversational Hebrew, Hebrew High School-style. (Phone: 577-1177)

In addition to an expanded Orthodox track and a weekly secular enrichment class for qualifying students (see http://azjewish, Tucson Hebrew Academy has a new computer lab with Dell touch-screen computers. THA has added teachers in middle school history and science, Tom Graddy and Jennifer Lehrfeld, and welcomes back Sigal Devorah in first grade Judaics. (Phone: 529-3888)

Congregation Chaverim’s Sunday school has added a new art elective taught by Cynthia Busby and Mary Stevenson. The class will focus on Jewish artists such as Marc Chagall, along with several Holocaust survivors, including Shraga Weil and Samuel Bak. Students will study the artist and artwork, then attempt their own artwork in a similar style. (Phone: 320-1015).

Congregation Chofetz Chayim  is offering its Simcha Kids music program for ages 2 to 5 (with adult participation) at a new time, 9:30-10:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. (Phone: 747-7780)

At the Tucson Jewish Community Center early childhood program, all children will be engaging in CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Children’s Health), which teaches children about healthy food choices and gets them moving in moderate to vigorous activities at least 60 minutes each day. As part of becoming an Empower Plus school, a program that helps fight childhood obesity, JCC ECE staff received training from the Arizona Department of Health Services. (Phone: 299-3000)