Shabbat Shalom from Rabbi Cohen - Virtual Learning

Posted by RabbiCohen on Jul. 31, 2020  /   0

The Beth Chai board and I have focused during the past two months on discussing, researching and planning for this coming school year.   We are committed to providing an engaging, quality education for our members – children and adults.  Although the plans are still being developed, let me share an overview of the plans.

  • We will have virtual learning on Sunday morning for both children and adults for at least the Fall term.  As the year progresses, we hope to be able to offer in-person options in the Spring.   
  • Our Sunday School classes and adult education will be abbreviated.  Each class will meet for approximately an hour.  The timing has not been finalized but the virtual programming will extend approximately from 10 am to noon.
  • Each week will include an abbreviated assembly to gather remotely as a whole community, participate in music, learn about our tzedakah commitment and find out about upcoming events.  I am looking forward to seeing all your faces, even if it is Brady-bunch style!
  • Marion Zatz, our Adult Education chair, has been working hard on putting together a dynamic calendar of adult learning.  Please be in contact with Marion or me if you have ideas or suggestions for programs.  Remember – since it is virtual – we literally have a worldwide choice of speakers, activities and programs!
  • During their hour-long Sunday school classes, the children will have a variety of learning activities – including stories, short videos, games, movement, music, crafts and discussions.   Laura Meckler, our Education chair, and I have been working on week-to-week lessons to ensure that the classes use their limited time to best meet the curricular goals.
  • We are seeking to take advantage of virtual learning’s benefits whenever possible. Instead of Burning Tree Elementary, the whole internet can be our classroom!  We hope to have guests from Israel visit our virtual classes.  We are planning virtual field trips to Jewish museums and landmarks. We are seeking out the best in online Jewish learning activities.  We hope to make the year dynamic for the students.
  • To supplement the classes, families will be provided with at-home learning activities.  These activities will be creative, engaging and easy to implement.   While we hope that families will do these activities together, we understand the unique pressures of the Covid-19 on family life and understand this may not happen each week.  Teachers may reflect back on these activities during class, but will not rely on them to move the curriculum forward. 
  • Many of Beth Chai’s teachers will be returning to the faculty this year.   I will be working with them closely in implementing the curriculum and lesson plans.  We will also be asking the teachers to communicate weekly with their students’ parents to update them on what their children are learning.
  • We will be engaging a “tech guru” to make sure that classes run smoothly and handle any glitches that come up.  (Side note: Did you know the word “glitch” comes from Yiddish?)
  • Every Sunday School student will receive a package of supplies for the semester in advance.  It will include what’s needed for doing the classroom activities at home.  Families will just need to provide basic school supplies.
  • We will have a few outdoor, socially distant activities throughout the term to gather together in person on Sunday mornings.  Plans are underway for a Tashlich gathering on Rosh Hashanah and a Sukkot orchard visit.  (Tashlich is a Rosh Hashanah tradition of symbolically throwing our misdeeds away by tossing bread crumb in a river or lake.)

In this week’s Torah portion, we read: “And you shall teach them diligently to your children and speak them when you sit in your house.” Deuteronomy 6:7    May this be our guiding principle for this year!

Please be in touch with any ideas, suggestions, questions or concerns about Beth Chai’s learning plan for the year.   I look forward to sharing more details soon. 

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