Shoresh is “only” three hours per week (two and a half hours on Fridays and half an hour during Hebrew@Home). But Shoresh guides students as they develop their Jewish roots—their Jewish identities. We’re charged with an important task, one that we do not take lightly. We understand how sacred it is to spend time with your child each week, helping to grow those Jewish roots. Developing our teachers’ skills to teach Judaism is only part of the puzzle. The other part is their ability to build community and make Judaism relevant to children’s everyday lives—that is what we worked on at this most recent team meet.
This year our 6th/7th grade class at Shoresh is learning about Jewish perspectives on the environment. They have learned about what Judaism says about water and conserving water, decorated their own reusable water cups, and making Jewish holidays more sustainable. The students noticed that some classrooms don't have clearly visible recycling bins (as well as some common spaces at KAM Isaiah Israel) so they wanted to ensure every space has a recycling bin. They studied a verse from the Torah, Genesis 1:28, about God creating and keeping the earth, and created a rap about the Jewish importance of recycling.
I hear somewhat regularly from parents who want Shoresh to make explicit connections between some more secular concepts (think recycling, interfaith relationships, feeding the poor) and Judaism, so here’s the explicit Jewish connection to watching a Mr. Rogers documentary and learning mental health first aid training. These experiences help me continue to try to create an environment at Shoresh and KAM Isaiah Israel where we welcome each child for who they are. We engage with children and don’t shy away from difficult concepts. We recognize talents on and off stage. We connect with children and help children connect with each other and create community. The community at Shoresh and KAM Isaiah Israel may just be the place where your teen meets the adult to whom they can reach out and say “I’m having a hard time and need help.”
We're gearing up for a truly incredible year at Shoresh. It involves a lot of brainstorming, planning, and learning ourselves. What's ahead? Here's a sneak peek: