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In the book of Genesis, G-d says to Abraham: "I shall establish my covenant between me and you and between your children after you." This verse speaks of the necessity that if we are going to continue as a people each generation has to take a level of responsibility for the next.
I thank you for accepting your role to help Jewish continuity by registering your child in the Kol Emet Religious School.
Like most Jewish education programs, we focus on synagogue skills, Hebrew language, and Jewish history. At Kol Emet, we also promote character development and provide our young people a window to the sacred. Our staff and our curriculum promote opportunities to help our children learn the difference between being smart and being wise. It is not enough for us to teach our children how to make a blessing. They need to know G-d, not just from a prayer book, but also from life, to see G-d in acts of kindness and in the pursuit of peace. As their Religious School, we want them to bring G-d into the world by being fair, honorable and considerate. As they develop physically and mentally, our goal is to help them develop spiritually and to exercise their soul.
When they come to Kol Emet, students will have the opportunity to explore the literature, music, prayer, heroic deeds, and history and moral teachings of our people. It is time for them to make their personal connection to G-d, the Torah, and the Jewish people.
The purpose of this handbook is to provide information and encouragement to parents so that you can share in the partnership to make the educational experience a successful one. We have provided our students with the best texts for the contemporary Jewish classroom. We are blessed with a staff that is creative, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I am also counting on each of our parents so that we may together, in the words of the Bible, teach them diligently to our children.
Rabbi Howard Cove
Dear Parents and Students,
The Kol Emet Religious School welcomes you and your children to a year of stimulating Jewish educational experiences. We thank you for choosing our synagogue to enrich your child's knowledge of their beautiful heritage.
This handbook will help you become familiar with our school's programs and policies. Please review this booklet and keep it for future reference. Should you have any questions about the policies or the school programs, please feel free to contact me at the school office (215-493-8522 ext. 103). We are very proud of the Kol Emet curriculum, which provides a unique dynamic approach to Jewish education.
Our exceptional staff and I are looking forward to an exciting and educational school year. Our unique one-day a week Religious School is able to provide a wonderful Jewish foundation for your child. With your help and support, we encourage your child to make the most of their weekly learning experiences by attending consistently and promptly and completing weekly homework assignments. Please take advantage of our superb Family services, Family Education Programs, H.O.T.S. and special programming. As a team – parent, teacher and student – together we can make this and exciting time of learning and growth for your child. May this New Year bring health, happy children, meaningful Jewish education and experiences, and peace for us all.
L'Shana Tovah Tikatevu, may you be inscribed for a great New Year.
Mom, do I have to go to Hebrew School tonight? As adults, we may remember uttering these words at the thought of attending religious school, maybe even up to three nights per week. To many of us, religious school was something to be dreaded. At Kol Emet, we want just the opposite for our children. We want our children to not only embrace, but to enjoy their entire religious school experience.
This handbook should be used as your guide throughout the school year. It is designed to provide you with a basic understanding of Reconstructionism and Kol Emet Religious School philosophies, as well as the specifics of your child’s involvement in the religious education process.Reconstructionism
Reconstructionism is a branch of Judaism that views Jewish tradition very seriously, but recognizes the need to adapt to current lifestyles in or society. The reconstruction of Jewish life and tradition so that it is integrated with each individual's particular lifestyle, thus meeting unique needs, is the foundation of this continually evolving branch of Judaism. In doing so, Reconstructionism strives to maintain our Jewish heritage and traditions by modifying our rituals with an innovative approach. As a result, our religious practices involve a never-ending process of growth and change. Accomplishing these goals requires ongoing study, active participation, and a commitment to Judaism and all that it stands for.Philosophy of Religious School Program
At Kol Emet, we are committed to familiarizing our students with Jewish tradition in the most creative and stimulating ways possible. We are further committed to helping our students feel that what they learn here really can make a difference in their lives. We want them to understand that the Jewish holidays and our sacred texts raise issues that are still very much a part of the Jewish and human struggle to live a moral and fulfilling life. Our goal is for our students to enjoy religious school and feel good about being Jewish. We are also devoted to helping them acquire a passion for learning about Judaism that will take them far beyond our school’s walls.
At Kol Emet, we emphasize an interactive approach to learning as opposed to the traditional didactic approach. This approach tends to enhance motivation and receptiveness to learning. This interactive approach is also taken during our intimate Shabbat services in which active participation is encouraged, especially among children. Our school provides low student/teacher ratios as well as a creative mix of capable and committee teachers drawn from the local community and from area institutes of advanced Jewish learning.
Classes are two hours in duration. During these two hours, students meet in classrooms where unique learning tools are used to teach children the various aspects of Judaism, including history, traditions, rituals, and the Hebrew language. Students gather sporadically throughout the year in the sanctuary for stimulating and moving musical assemblies, including prayers, guest speakers, songs and community celebrations.Objectives of a Jewish Education
The objectives of a Jewish education at Kol Emet are as follows:
Students are required to begin formal Religious School at the age of 8, or third grade. Students may, however, begin as early as their kindergarten year.
In order for a student to be eligible to attend Kol Emet Religious School, the family must be a member in good standing. All payments, including synagogue dues, building fund, and school fees must be current, unless financial arrangements have been granted. Students in Gan, Kadima, and Mechina classes may attend one year of school without family membership in our congregation.
At Kol Emet, we are dedicated to providing our students with the best education possible in the few hours we have each week. However, in order to accomplish this, your involvement in your child’s education is essential. There has never been a more exciting and rewarding time to be Jewish. We look forward to being a part of guiding your child toward and active Jewish life.
In order to enhance your child's learning experience, there are certain expectations we have of our students at Kol Emet.
The success of your child's experience at Kol Emet Religious School depends to a large extent on the degree to which you get involved in the learning process. Your active involvement sends a clear message to your child that will undoubtedly influence his/her level of motivation. You, as parents, are strongly encouraged to become actively involved in all components of your child's education.
Date __________________ Parent Initials _____________
Homework Assignment(s): Parent/Teacher Comments:
Things to remember to take home or bring to school:
Date __________________ Parent Initials _____________
In order to ensure the safety of our students as well as the efficiency of the drop off/pick up l car line, it is imperative that all parents abide by the procedures described below. For the first shift, which begins at 4:45 on Tuesday and at 4:30 on Thursday, students should be dropped off no earlier than 15 minutes before the start of school. Pick up is at 6:45 on Tuesday and 6:30 on Thursday. For the second shift on Thursday, which begins at 6:45, parents may drop their children off after 6:40 and pick them up no later than 8:45. The second shift every other Tuesday (Confirmation) begins at 6:15 (drop off UPSTAIRS at the main entrance) and ends at 8:15 (pick up DOWNSTAIRS at the school entrance).
Please take the time to carefully read the instructions for dropping off and picking up your child.
As you enter the driveway from Oxford Valley Road, proceed to the parking lot at the rear of the building. STOP at the walkway leading into the school. This is where drop-off and pick-up will take place. The speed limit is 5 M.P.H. at all times in the Kol Emet driveway and parking lot.
SPEED LIMIT: 5 M.P.H. AT ALL TIMES
PLEASE BE CAREFUL!
Please follow the counterclockwise one-way movement of the parking lot.
Following the drop-off time periods, the doors to Kol Emet will be locked for the safety of our children. Any child arriving late must be escorted by an adult to the school office to sign in. You will have to use the intercom system to enter the building.
In the event a child needs to be picked up before regular dismissal time, please park your car in a designated spot and go directly to the school office where your child will be brought to you from class. Please do not go directly to the classroom, as your child must be signed out at the office.
Kol Emet Religious School follows the Pennsbury School District closing policies. In the even of inclement weather, contact the synagogue office after 2:00PM for official notification of cancellation. If Pennsbury District is closed, Kol Emet will be closed. If Pennsbury has early dismissal due to inclement weather, Kol Emet will be closed. If school needs to be cancelled in an emergency, the school will contact parents with as much advance notice as possible. You may also contact the school office directly for information on emergency closings or you may listen to NBC, KYW, and CBS. Our school number is 1163.
Textbooks will be supplied to students by the religious school. Students will also be provided with a prayer CD. These materials contain all the prayers required for the successful completion of the prayer curriculum.
Families will be asked to pay for replacements of any lost textbooks or CDs/tapes. Additionally, students will be required to provide their own pencils, pens, loose-leaf folders, and a marble composition homework book. Parents may receive a list of additional supplies from their child’s teacher.
All books will be given out at the beginning of the school year. Both the teacher and student will initial a paper that verifies receipt of all books and materials.
Progress reports provide an excellent way for parents and teachers to monitor the progress of each student. Written reports will be provided by your child’s teacher three times per year. The progress report is to be signed by you and returned to school by the next class. If you have any questions or concerns pertaining to classroom procedures, programs, or your child’s progress, please contact the classroom teacher first. If you would like to speak to your child’s teacher regarding his/her progress, we request that you call the school office and leave a message. If further consultation is necessary, a meeting with the Educational Director will be arranged.
Statement of Principles
Our tradition tells us that a Jew becomes responsible for following the commandments upon his or her thirteenth birthday, with or without a ceremony, and thus becomes a bar or bat mitzvah. Becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, whether celebrated at age 13 or anytime thereafter, can be a most significant event in the Jewish life cycle. It marks acceptance of responsibility of becoming a mitzvah person before the congregation, the local Jewish community, and the Jewish people at large. It also marks a certain minimum level of Jewish knowledge, synagogue skills, and commitment to Jewish living.
The ceremony traditionally entails calling the Bar Mitzvah to the Torah to recite the blessing for an Aliyah. Over time, additional facets have been added to the ceremony, including the most important Reconstructionist innovation of calling girls to the Torah as well. Presently in our Kol Emet community, a child reads from the Torah and Haftarah portion of the day, delivers a D'var Torah (a short talk about the weekly portion), and presents his/her Mitzvah project.
Reconstructionists advocate the creative development of Jewish rituals and ceremonies. Reconstructionists are also mindful of the psychological and spiritual power that such rites of passage have in the lives of individuals, families, and communities. We recognize that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah process is about larger adolescent development goals, and is not limited to specific Jewish teachings and skills that are highlighted at the ceremony. For this reason, the Kol Emet Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony seeks to balance two different goals: to assure the integrity of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah in the eyes of the Jewish tradition and in accordance with communal expectations, and to allow and encourage room for personalizing the ceremony, to have it reflect the commitments and inclinations of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah and his/her family.
A Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony at Kol Emet is a celebration not only of the child, but of the family and the community as well. We hope that affiliation with Kol Emet builds and strengthens the Bar/Bat Mitzvah family's commitment to Judaism, to Jewish living, and to this Jewish community. Families will gain an increased sense of commitment and identity by participating in Shabbat services, Bar/Bat Mitzvah family meetings and Family Education programs.
As Pirkei Avot (The Mishnah "Chapters of the Ancestors") teaches us, the world stands on three things: on Torah, on Avodah (work/service/prayer), and on G'milut Hasadim (acts of loving kindness). In that spirit, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah should prepare in each of these areas. Torah implies additional learning; Avodah suggests deepening one's prayer and spiritual life; and G'milut Hasadim points to actions of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), both through direct service and volunteerism and through commitments to political and social change. Parents, the Rabbi, and the Bar/Bat Mitzvah student form a team to help shape a students, program of preparation in these three important areas.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Requirements
Readiness begins with the Reconstructionist definition of Jewish identity. Reconstructionists define one as Jewish when he/she shares a sense of belonging to the Jewish people, identifies with its common past, and is committed to creating a Jewish future. The following are the general prerequisites for recognition as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at a Kol Emet ceremony:
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Dates
At Kol Emet, Bar/Bat Mitzvah dates are selected at a meeting in the month of May, three years before the child's Bar/Bat Mitzvah year. For instance, if your child is to become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah in the year 2014, you will be asked to attend a meeting in May 2011, at which time you will choose your preferred date. Due to the small size of our congregation, individual Bar/Bat Mitzvah dates are guaranteed.
Confirmation is a time to learn what contributions the young adult can give to society. It is a time of evaluation of the intellectual and spiritual commitment to Judaism. Confirmation is celebrated in the 10th grade, close to the holiday of Shavuot. Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments at Sinai. It is appropriate that students affirm their faith with G-d and Judaism in a knowledgeable fashion at this time with an understanding of his/her history and Torah. Confirmation is the summation of the years of formal education at a mature level.
The goal of Confirmation at Kol Emet is to keep teen's minds, bodies and souls living, creating and discovering their personal and collective roles in Judaism today. All children are encouraged to continue their education and we hope that all will participate in the Confirmation class. Confirmation is held every other Tuesday, according to the calendar.
Our Confirmation classes continue to grow. We strongly encourage families to continue their child's education and friendships at Kol Emet. Our program is designed to include social time balanced with interesting and relevant topics, taught by our Rabbi and master teachers.
The Family Education Program is an exciting and enriching program that enables us to celebrate our rich and wonderful heritage together as a family. For many of us, the materials and discussions of what our children are learning in religious school are either very new or very distant memories. Family Education affords us the opportunity to reconnect and reinforce what our children learn at Kol Emet, while enjoying the company of our children and other Kol Emet families. Please refer to the Family Education brochure provided in your packet that is sent home.
Kol Emet Family Education consists of two parts: holiday programs and grade level programs.
Each year, Kol Emet sponsors school-wide programs on Sundays based around the holidays. These programs will provide the opportunity to share meaningful and fun Jewish experiences with your children. For these programs you will receive a flyer and a tear-off a month prior to the program. If you will be attending, the tear-off must be returned so that we can purchase the correct quantity of materials. All programs will be held on Sunday, from 10:00-12:00, unless otherwise indicated. Please refer to this year's school calendar at the end of your handbook for specific programs and dates.
The holiday Family Education Programs serve as a wonderful way to include not only families but extended families as well, such as grandparents, siblings, and special friends. It is our sincere hope that you will participate in these fun, hands-on events.
The second form of Family Education is done on a grade-level basis. Each grade, along with their families, will be invited to two events during the school year. One is a special Friday evening or Saturday morning Shabbat service for the entire grade to lead. See the Special Shabbat Services section below for more information.
The other event invites families of each grade level to learn about and share a specific Jewish ritual object, culminating in a hands on project. This provides a wonderful opportunity to meet other parents and share in a creative project. These events are personal and involve the children and parents in meaningful interaction. Most of these programs will be held on Sunday mornings unless otherwise noted. Please refer to this year's school calendar at the end of your handbook for specific details.
Each class is given the honor of leading a Friday evening or Saturday morning Shabbat service. The Aleph class has the added honor of participating in a special B'nai Torah Shabbat service, marking the formal entrance to their Jewish education. Students work hard during the year to prepare for this special event. Our students lead the congregation in the chanting of many prayers and songs. These services have been highlights for our students. We receive nearly 100% participation, and would like this involvement to continue.
We request that you respect Kol Emet's policy that no cameras may be used during any religious service in the synagogue. Opportunities for picture taking will be provided prior to or following services. Video cameras may be used is they are placed in the back of the sanctuary out of the way of the congregation and the ceremony. Pictures may be taken outside of the Kol Emet building at any time.
Tzedakah signifies an individual's responsibility to participate in acts of charity. At Kol Emet, we feel it is important that students learn that caring for all people in need is an integral part of Jewish life. Tzedakah, in the form of small change, will be collected each week in class. At the end of the year, the class will vote on where the funds should go. We hope that each student will be very supportive of this effort. Students, along with teacher's guidance, vote as to where to give their charity. In past years, tzedakah donations have been made to the Talia Foundation, Jewish Family Services, Magen David Adom (Israeli Red Cross), Jewish National Fund and A Package From Home.
Chug (pronounced Hoog) literally means club. Chuggim are clubs offered at the end of the school year for the purpose of added cultural awareness, they take place during class time and last for three weeks. In previous years, Chuggim included arts and crafts, music, newspaper publication, dance, photography, cooking, and drama, all with a Jewish flavor.
The purpose of the Education Committee is to operate the Kol Emet Religious School. The Education Committee is a Standing Committee. The Chair of the Education Committee shall be a board member. Any member of the congregation may join the committee. All meetings of the Education Committee are open to other members of the congregation.
The Education Committee has the responsibility to:
If you are interested in becoming a part of this vital and dynamic committee, please contact the school office at 215-493-8522 ext. 103.
The Parent-Teacher Organization, or PTO, is an integral component of the religious school at Kol Emet. The purpose of the PTO is to:
Parents are strongly encouraged to join the PTO and become involved in this important committee.
This year, in addition to traditional fundraisers such as candy sales, an annual fee will be requested from each family to join the PTO. All members of the congregation are invited to attend PTO meetings, however, in order to vote, you must have paid your PTO fee. If you would like more information on our PTO, please contact the PTO President listed on the leadership page.
The use of homeroom parents is another example of Kol Emet's team approach to your child's education. The PTO will ask parents to help organize two grade-level social activities, one of which is a mitzvah activity. Other responsibilities will include making phone calls to other parents to relay important information, such as upcoming events, and assisting the teacher in other activities when necessary.
Homeroom parents will also be responsible for organizing the dinner or dessert buffet for our special Shabbat services. See the Special Shabbat Services section in this handbook for more information.
If you are interested in being a homeroom parent, please contact the office to fill out the PTO's membership/volunteer form and return it as soon as possible.