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Shoresh: Our Shabbat-based religious school program

Our learners develop foundations of Jewish education—their own “roots”—to become curious, engaged, and skillful Reform Jewish adults. Learning on Jewish time through authentic experiences provides learners and their families with opportunities to develop positive Jewish identity, Hebrew knowledge, Jewish traditions and values, and engagement with Jewish ritual and community. The roots our learners plant at KAM Isaiah Israel will lead them to be adults who live meaningful Jewish lives. 

Our program

Shoresh provides experiential and project based Jewish learning for Kindergarten through 10th grade learners. Our Shabbat-based model supports learners as they become curious about, engaged in, and skillful in Judaism. Shoresh is an inclusive and diverse environment where interfaith families, Jews of color, Jews by choice, LGBTQ+ families and learners, and many others find a home for Jewish learning. Kindergarten–9th grade learners meet Friday afternoons, culminating in our weekly family Shabbat service. Shoresh families love our focus on Shabbat—Judaism's built-in break from the busy week—and coming together to welcome Shabbat with friends.


Shoresh 2020-2021

Shoresh remains committed to providing meaningful, authentic Jewish experiences for learners. That is why we have sought input from current and prospective parents, learners, teachers, the KAM Isaiah Israel board and leadership, medical professionals, and others to determine how Shoresh learners will continue growing their Jewish roots this school year. 

Shoresh on Fridays will take place largely online this school year, with some important adjustments and improvements from the spring.

  • Sessions will continue to emphasize connection and community building but with smaller groups and more teachers.This year’s curriculum will be adjusted to optimize the online setting while emphasizing Jewish values and texts and making Judaism relevant and personal.
  • All learners will meet concurrently on Fridays at a time closer to the family Shabbat service, allowing for a more continuous Friday afternoon experience.
  • Hebrew@Home will continue for 3rd-6th graders as the same high-quality, one-on-one midweek Hebrew program we have led the nation with for over six years.

As we discussed what Shoresh will look like this school year, these are the core values that have continued to shine through. These values are what we believe, what we teach our children, and what we strive to put into practice at Shoresh and throughout our lives. Kehillah, community, bonds us and holds us spiritually close to one another. Pikuach nefesh, saving a life, lifts up our need to protect each other. Derech eretz, doing the right thing, guides our decision making in everyday and large ways. Shevil ha’zahov, moderation, urges us to recognize that balancing multiple needs is difficult and constant. In all of the decisions we are and will be making, Shoresh will continue to come back to these core values.

Welcoming Shabbat as a community has been the cornerstone of Shoresh for years. It is my and many others’ favorite part of the week. While we cannot welcome Shabbat in person together, we can look to our core values for ways to continue these traditions this year. 

  • Our family Shabbat service will allow for more family interaction as a kehillah(community).
  • Shoresh families will be encouraged to continue and create traditions at home to connect within families and implement our values. 

These are undeniably big changes, and this will be a different experience than our in-person Shoresh program. While we recognize this difficult decision, we’re excited about what new opportunities for discovery may come for your child. Their important work to become an active, engaged Jew will take place in small groups with high-quality, passionate teachers. They’ll explore with the same inquiry-based and learner-centered methods inherent to Shoresh. And we will work with your child and family to maximize their Jewish development. We’re hopeful that we can hold some small group experiences that are in person sometime this year. Those are, of course, contingent on public health circumstances to ensure everyone’s safety and health.

Tuition has been decreased slightly to account for the changes to the Shoresh budget. No family will be turned away from Shoresh or KAM Isaiah Israel due to financial hardship. Most of our budget is spent on people, and we are prioritizing hiring high-quality, trained teachers for Shoresh. Please request financial assistance as needed—we will support you financially and emotionally as a valued member of our KAM Isaiah Israel family. We know that this year, especially, we will provide more tuition assistance to support our community.

Shoresh sessions on Friday
4:00–6:00 PM Classroom time

Students focus on developing a sense of Jewish identity and belonging to the KAM Isaiah Israel community through developmentally appropriate projects and discussions based on a thoughtfully designed curriculum developed exclusively for Shoresh. Read more about the Shoresh curriculum.

Kindergarten–1st grade learners have a dynamic schedule of activities for hands-on learning that helps them learn how to be Jewish and about Jewish values. 2nd–5th grade learners explore how Judaism is relevant in today's world through project based learning. 6th–9th grade learners learn about modern issues and grapple with Jewish values and texts through discussions with clergy and experienced teachers. 2nd-7th grade learners also participate in Hebrew instruction on Fridays, which focuses on Hebrew prayer and spirituality.

6:00–6:30 PM Family Shabbat service 

Learners conclude Friday afternoon learning by welcoming Shabbat in a meaningful community setting where they can put their knowledge into practice at our weekly Shabbat service and monthly congregational dinners. Designed for learners and parents together, this service is a central component of our Shabbat-based model. Parents join their children for the service after socializing at a wine and cheese oneg at 5:30 PM.

 This idea of planting and growing our Shoresh, our Jewish roots, reflects the mission of our program as well as the identity unique to KAM Isaiah Israel. Most literally, our community is proud of our urban farm and the over 18,000 pounds of organic produce grown and donated to local soup kitchens and shelters. KAM Isaiah Israel has deep roots in the Chicago Jewish community, and we have a deep commitment to learning. In Hebrew, we often look at the shoresh (root) of a word and how that affects a word’s meaning and use. Our learners’ roots—both those in our gardens and that our congregation helps sow through education—affect our Jewish identities. 
Mon, April 19 2021 7 Iyar 5781