Congregation Beth Ami
Religious School K-7th
Chaverim Teen Program
Beth Ami Community Nursery School (BACNS) is committed to quality early childhood education. We believe each child is unique and approaches learning in a variety of ways and we strive to present a warm and nurturing program that teaches the whole child - socially, physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.
We celebrate Jewish culture in a developmentally appropriate way through joyous holiday festivities and by celebrating the end-of-the week Shabbat (Sabbath) through music, dance, stories, art, play, and cooking. We welcome the Sabbath every Friday by singing with Rabbi Schlesinger and his guitar, lighting the Sabbath candles, saying the blessing over wine (in our case, grape juice), and baking and sharing challah.
Our curriculum is inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy embraced by educators for its child centered philosophy. It includes themes and activities emerging from the interests of the children and occurrences in their lives. We provide varied experiences with art materials, manipulatives, blocks, cooking, music, and creative movement. There are also language arts, dramatic play and science, as well as activities which encourage literacy development, both oral and written, and beginning math concepts. Within the context of these curriculum areas, we emphasize the importance of decision-making, problem-solving and learning by doing.
top of page
Religious School K-7th
We welcome you to our religious school which is made up of both a grade school level, which encompasses students from grades kindergarten through 7th grade, and a post B’nai Mitzvah (after Bat or Bar Mitzvah) program which includes USY, and Chaverim. Our spacious campus offers many classrooms and a striking sanctuary. We have a very low teacher to student ratio, which means that your child will receive excellent individualized education within a supportive and stimulating setting! Our students thrive in an atmosphere of leadership, exploration, Jewish values, ethical dilemmas, Hebrew, dance, art, holiday celebrations, family education, social events, and the love of Jewish life and learning!
Partial scholarships are available, so please don’t allow finances to be a deterrent. Your child’s Jewish education and socialization is fundamental!
During grade school, we celebrate Jewish culture and religion with developmentally appropriate activities using multiple learning styles. While teaching Hebrew, Jewish knowledge, history, skills, values, art, dance, and songs, we create a positive and enjoyable learning and social environment.
Our Religious School is a vibrant and exciting place for your children to learn, play, meet other Jewish young people, and grow to feel even more comfortable with our rich tradition. We have a safe and wonderful campus. On the playground we have inventive and exciting equipment as well as a large beautiful grassy area available for older students. We are home to a long history of creative, knowledgeable, and experienced teachers who love teaching and learning. They treat the children as if they were their own! The success of our school is shown by the overwhelming response to our post B’nai Mitzvah students who return as Madrichim (class helpers). With their infectious enthusiasm and knowledge, they continue to bring smiles to everyone! Each class works on a tzedakah ("righteousness" -- doing the right thing) project for their current year. This becomes a way for the students to be more aware of their helpful personal affect on our larger society.
We aim to foster an understanding of Judaism’s diversity, providing role models to enable each child to find a place for him/herself to grow and develop.
We focus on:
- learning the language,
- process of Jewish thinking,
- rituals of Judaism through the knowledge of prayers,
- and psalms
that are used during Shabbat and other observances and celebrations. Families come together for workshops, holidays, and community celebrations. We boast a delicious Family Shabbat Dinner which is held the first Friday of every month. What a great opportunity for families to gather together and celebrate the traditions and enjoy a delicious meal!
This year we are beginning a new program where our students join together with other Jewish students in Sonoma County. This programming will include social, cultural, ethnic, and/or religious activities. It will be scheduled on a regular basis and open to all 3-7th graders to encourage our youngsters to socialize with our larger Jewish community!
View Religious School Calendar for the school year 2010-2011 (5771).
For the most recent, up-to-date calendar, view the Beth Ami online Calendar.
top of page
Bar/Bat Mitzvah (Son or Daughter of the Commandments)
Importance of becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah
The celebration of your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah of is one of the most important events in their lives and yours. It marks a turning point in their relationship to the Jewish community and their commitment to Jewish practice. It recognizes the changes in maturity affecting their ability to accept responsibility for moral-ethical and life decisions in the near and distant future. It is a key rite of passage, and a cause for great celebration.
Your involvement in the entire process sends a vital message to your children. It tells them that this course of study is important to you too, even if your own knowledge is limited. The central message is that your children feel your love, support, and presence while they are on their journey.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation
Bar/Bat Mitzvah instruction is part of a well rounded Jewish education and, as such, is part of the overall Religious School program.
Instruction will take place in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation. This class begins approximately one year prior to the student’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah date. Your child(ren) will have gained extensive knowledge and will be comfortable with many parts of the service from their Religious School experiences that preceded this preparation year.
Regular attendance at Religious School classes and Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation, as well as at Shabbat morning services, is necessary for students’ knowledge, comfort, and acceptance of becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
Daily study and practice is needed and expected in this preparation year. The amount of time needed for daily study will differ with each student. It is important for parents to monitor and be involved in their child’s work and progress.
Upon beginning preparation of his/her Haftarah, periodic meetings with the Rabbi will be scheduled. Approximately six months before the ceremony they will become weekly. They provide for more intensive guidance and training as well as time for discussions preliminary to writing the D’var Torah.
There will be periodic meetings of the students and parents as a group throughout the Bar/Bat Mitzvah year. Parental involvement is imperative for your child(ren’s) support, identity, and assurance of a successful Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah participation in the service
It is expected that all students will learn to:
- Lead the service, taking the Torah out of the Ark and returning it.
- Recite the blessings before and after the Torah reading.
- Read the Maftir (Bar/Bat Mitzvah portion) from the Torah using “trope” (musical accents).
- Recite the blessings before and after the Haftarah (Prophetic reading)
- Chant the Haftarah in Hebrew using the “trope” notations.
- Recite Kiddush for Shabbat morning.
- Prepare a D’var Torah, a speech reflecting their thoughts on the Torah portion, Haftarah portion, their Jewish life and the significance of becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, as well as a summary/introduction to the Torah and Haftarah.
Candidates are encouraged to participate even more fully in the service. This might include reading more extensively from the Torah and leading parts of the morning service (Shacharit) and/or Musaf.
(In the case where a child experiences extreme difficulties learning to read Hebrew, changes in the degree of participation in the service and manner of preparation will be arranged in consultation with the Rabbi and the Religious School Director.)
top of page
SCUSY (Sonoma County United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism)
Sonoma County United Synagogue Youth (SCUSY) is a program for our youth ages 14 through 18 sponsored by United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Congregation Beth Ami’s teens undertake a variety of fundraisers and tzedakah (charity) projects throughout the course of each year and plan and attend monthly social activities. Members of our award-winning chapter have many opportunities to participate in regional, national and international events, which are held in Northern California, across the nation, and elsewhere in the world. USY is a wonderful way for teens to connect with other Jewish teens and to enhance leadership and Judaic skills. Here are a few examples of our fun events, and we hope that you will give USY a try by stopping by. See you there!
Fire and Ice:
At Fire and Ice, USYers participate in Havdallah and ice skating at Snoopy’s Ice Arena. This event is a great opportunity to hang out with friends, share a meal, and enjoy the lovely service that ends Shabbat.
Sushi in the Sukkot
Cause that’s how we roll! This event is a great opportunity to share Sukkot with your Jewish friends. We will not only be learning about Sukkot and celebrating in a beautiful sukkah, but enjoying a sushi making session as well!
Friend us on facebook for up-to-the-minute information about events.
Have any questions? Need more information? Contact Sarah Stein, our Youth Advisor at scusy _ at _ bethamisr.org.
Visit www.newfrontierusy.org and www.usy.org!
top of page
Chaverim is an exciting program for the Jewish teens of Sonoma County. It provides an outlet for 8th through 12th graders in the community. It is a unique opportunity for Jewish teenagers to get together for social and educational events that inspire involvement in Jewish life.
Each grade meets twice a month for a director-led peer dinner discussion centered around Jewish ethical and moral topics that relate to every day teen lives. In addition to those monthly meetings, teens meet one or more times a month for social events. Some of these events include: camping, shabbatons, skiing, dances, sleepovers, bowling, services, social action, community service, pool parties, and so much more in between. Members can also choose to participate in planning events through leadership and leadership training opportunities.
To be a member of Chaverim you do not have to be affiliated with a synagogue, you just need to be Jewish.
Chaverim is a second family to all of its members, and is a great way to make life-long friends. Chaverim is also very lucky to have an amazing director, Rick Concoff. Rick leads all of the discussions and chaperones all social events. Without Rick, Chaverim would not be as wonderful as it is. Rick is able to relate to teens on a level most adults cannot.
The birth of this program was inspired by Congregation Beth Ami’s long-respected Kehillah program and Congregation Shomrei Torah’s successful Tzaddikim program. The best of both programs have been brought together in a new format, bringing meaning and Jewish continuity to post B’nai Mitzvah students.
The program is overseen by Congregation Beth Ami’s Rabbi George Schlesinger and Congregation Shomrei Torah’s Rabbi George Gittleman, and is supported by a parent-led Advisory Committee.
Chaverim is a beneficiary of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.
top of page
Adult B’nai Mitzvah
Many of us have experienced our children going through their years of B'nai Mitzvah training, and we appreciate the amount of learning that is involved. We would like to share that experience. We are adults, and thus we bring a lifetime of experience to the rigor of learning Jewish skills. Doing so in a group can be a powerful means to explore our Jewish selves, and to form strong bonds within our community. Applying the discipline to learn Hebrew, study Torah, engage with our fellow students, and to see how it all fits into our 21st century lives is valuable to us as individuals, and to our synagogue as a vital Jewish institution.
And ultimately, participating in an adult B'nai Mitzvah group can allow us to wrestle with the central questions of being Jewish in the modern age. Does an understanding of Jewish ritual and ceremonial law bring us to an understanding of who we are, and the nature of humanity? Is the practice of Judaism essential to being Jewish? What, in fact, does it mean to be Jewish? Is the process of learning Hebrew and studying Torah still a path to understanding and growth?
Becoming a B'nai Mitzvah requires a significant commitment of time and effort, as well as a commitment to a group of peers. But with that commitment comes value and growth, for the individuals involved, and for Beth Ami as a community. If you want to explore this possibility, please contact the office and put your name on the list. It can be an exciting adventure.
top of page
EACH YEAR the congregation creates new adult education
programs. Beth Ami is also home to a long-standing book
discussion group, as well as a thriving Israeli Dance
program. Other areas that have been explored through
workshops, classes and guest lecturers are Hebrew language,
History, Philosophy, Yiddish, Bible Study, Art, Jewish
living and even Jewish cooking. Please check our synagogue
bulletin, the Shofar for specific courses and
programs being offered and/or our online
More information is available in
News and Events.
© 2010 Congregation Beth Ami