Education/Enculturation – Two of Our Goals

by Arliene Botnick, October 4, 2017

Bet Sefer Solel must both educate and enculturate our children. Our curriculum is based on an increasing level of understanding about what it means to be a Jew.

From the early grades, the children learn about, prepare for, and often celebrate the holidays. They make Shabbat boxes which include candle holders, challah covers and Kiddush cups. Just recently, they made their miniature Sukkahs and soon they’ll be making arks for their miniature Torah scrolls as they prepare for Simchat Torah!

In the middle grades, they learn about what it means to be a Jewish hero, the study of Israel intensifies and students begin to relate the Torah to how each one should live his/her life.

In the senior grades, the bigger questions are tackled; our relationship with God, how to live as a Jew in this amazing multi-religious community of Mississauga, how to deal with anti-Semitism, how to deal with “anti” any group.

Throughout all the grades, there is the opportunity to learn and sing Jewish songs, study Hebrew and become service literate. Perhaps, of equal importance, during all those Bet Sefer years, our kids create their own Jewish community. They become friends with one another; they are immersed in an environment (unlike what occurs in their day schools) that is Jewish. They form bonds which we hope will extend far beyond the Bet Sefer school years.

To encourage these social interactions, we add to school our special programmes, some of which include the opportunity to go to Jewish Theatre (My Name is Asher Lev), or watch Jewish based films (The Chosen), invite guest speakers who open up wide ranges of significant topics (some upcoming guests include David Lepofsky speaking on challenges for the disabled, Laura Wolfson creating a Jewish Escape Room and Karen Kollins on Camp George).

The final, the ultimate goal of both education and enculturation is to help our kids appreciate and understand what being Jewish means…and for that, Bet Sefer is only a piece. As a famous Rabbi once said, “the school is the anteroom to the Sanctuary.” School and shul are partners (and let’s not forget our Jewish homes either).

Everything we teach has to be lived. The Shabbat boxes are most meaningful when they are used as often as possible at home during our personal Shabbats, and at Solel when the children can live Shabbat with community. The miniature Sukkahs come to life when our kids stand in our own Solel Sukkah or perhaps even the one you may have built in your backyards. The conversations about God, Israel, Jewish Identity are enhanced when they continue beyond the school walls into our homes and synagogue. Torah comes alive when we hear and participate in discussions and debates on a Saturday morning with our amazing Rabbi.

There is a Yiddish expression that in translation says, “It is not easy being Jewish”. I hope by educating and enculturating our children, we not only make it easier, but fulfilling to be a Jew!

To a fruitful and positive New Year!

Filed under: Educator's Message

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