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Religious Education News

Fall 2019

After launching the 5780 academic year (2019-2020) with a late-summer event called KIDSTOCK, our religious school sessions began on September 8. Students met their new teachers and new education director, and we welcomed young newcomers to Keneseth Israel.

Each class visited the Tent of Abraham and Sarah, a special room upstairs lined with rugs, sheepskins and saris. Teachers told stories of the ancient Jewish past, and the young people easily imagined being transported into our mythic origins.

In the weeks that followed, students in all the grades learned how to navigate the chapters and verses of the TaNaKh (Hebrew Bible) by setting off on a ‘safari’ to find twenty animals mentioned in the text. This learning adventure was capped with an October 6 visit to the Lehigh Valley Zoo to find those same animals in the flesh. Through the year, the students will explore the thirty-nine Bible books.

Our students have several opportunities to express themselves Jewishly through the creative arts. We have a beautiful, light-filled art studio upstairs, supervised by local artist Emily Stein. She is introducing both Jewish art forms, like ritual artists, and Jewish themes, and letting the students’ imaginations run free. In the studio art hug (club), from 11:15 till noon, they can pursue their visions even further.

Also, song leader Max Kasler is in our music room (the teen lounge) to get the kids singing Hebrew songs from the liturgy, folk, and pop traditions. In the optional music hug (club) from 11:15 to noon, he’s teaching students how to play Jewish songs on the guitar.

Other hugeem the kids have chosen include cooking, literature, drama and Israeli martial arts (Krav Maga).

Jewish rock superstar Rick Recht will be at KI the weekend of November 1-3, getting everyone in the spirit, in a program sponsored by the Epstein family in honor of Harry’s becoming a bar mitsva.

In the months to come, we’ll get to hear students as young as ten reading verses from the Torah during Shabbat services. In February, the confirmation class will travel to Washington, D.C., for the incredible L’Taken seminar. This is a four-day experience staffed by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. The teens will learn about current legislation that RAC considers important, and practice political advocacy techniques. At the seminar’s end, they will visit Capitol Hill as trained lobbyists, and speak their minds to congressional aides.

We have a lot to look forward to in 5780!

-- Rabbi Shoshana Hantman, Director of Education

Wed, April 1 2020 7 Nisan 5780