The mission of the Youth and Family Learning Program at Congregation Etz Chayim is to provide inclusive and egalitarian learning opportunities to enable children and families to live meaningful Jewish lives in the 21st century. We partner with families in developing and strengthening Jewish identity, in deepening their knowledge of the teachings and values of Judaism, and in connecting to each other and to K'lal Yisrael, the world Jewish community.
What ages are included?
We have programs for children as young as 2 years old through high school.
When do you meet?
We have programs on Sunday mornings, Wednesday afternoons and Wednesday evenings, depending on age. Our regular weekly programs run from August through May.
Do you teach Hebrew?
Our program focuses on prayer literacy with a healthy sprinkling of modern Hebrew.
What about art, music, drama, outdoor learning, field trips?
Yes. All of the above and more are integral parts of our experiential learning approach.
What about special needs?
We work with families to find ways to ensure that all of our chidlren have access to Jewish learning. Contact our Director of Learning, Abra Greenspan to begin a conversation about what will work best for your family.
Is there homework? Do you give grades?
Yes and No. As Judaism is learned by living it, there is always a home component. Celebrating festivals and holidays at home, filling your home with Jewish music and books and food are all ways of living Judaism. A weekly newsletter includes an At Home section which serves as a starting point for family conversations and activities that connect to and bring home what children have experienced in their class sessions. We do not have report cards or grades. The conversations you have with your children based on the newsletter and the At Home section as well as their participation in Jewish family life should provide you with a good sense of what your child is learning and absorbing.
Is there parent involvement?
Parents are encouraged to participate in Opening Circle Sunday mornings. Parents are also welcome to join our Wednesday afternoon Closing Circle. Z'aim, our preschool program, is designed for parents to participate with their children. Midor l'Dor, our K/1 program alternates between sessions that are only for the children, and sessions where children and parents learn separately and then join together for a portion of the lesson. Shorashim, our 2-6 program includes at least two Mishpacha (Family) Days when parents join their children for a full Sunday morning of learning together. Our Bar/t Mitzvah program includes extensive family participation. Parents coordinate and provide dinner for our Hineini program for grades 7-9. In addition, there are mulitiple opportunities for parents to volunteer, socialize and learn while their children are in class sessions.
What if one parent isn't Jewish?
We are an inclusive community and we welcome Jewish families of all kinds.
Do we have to be members of Etz Chayim?
Families are welcome to enroll in Z'riam, Midor l'Dor or 2nd grade without becoming members of Etz Chayim. Please contact us for more information or for extenuating circumstances. Families must be members of the synagogue in order to celebrate Bar/t Mitzvah here.
Is there financial assistance available?
Yes. Everyone should have the opportunity to learn.Contact our Executive Director, Ellen Bob to discuss your situation.
For more information about the specifics of our program, click on the Our Learning Programs.
For a registration form click here.