Religious School Handbook

Religious School Handbook

Welcome to WJC Religious School! Our faculty strives to nurture each child in the context of the family and the community. Our goal is to provide the best quality Jewish education for all children in a stimulating and nurturing environment. We strive to build an atmosphere for every child that creates a desire to learn and understand. We are guided in this task by the principles of Judaism.






To succeed in our endeavor we need your help. I would like to encourage you to be as active and supportive as possible in your children’s Jewish education. The more involved you become both at home and here at the Westchester Jewish Center the more meaningful you and your children’s experience here can be. Here are just a few ways in which you can get more involved at the Religious School:

  •   Join and support our Parent’s Association
  •   Participate in our Parent Group and join us for meetings.
  •   Encourage your child to attend our weekly Youth Shabbat Services.
  •   Attend our Sunday family education programs
  •   Encourage your children to participate in Youth activities

I look forward to working closely with you and your family. Please feel free to speak with me throughout the school year with any thoughts, suggestions or concerns you may have.

A successful year for everyone!

Aleza Kulp
Education Director and Synagogue Program Coordinator


Religious School Handbook

Tap on the topic below to learn more.

School Programs and Support

Shira (Music)
Gan through Kitah Dalet (Kindergarten – 4th grade) have music on Sunday morning for a period of 15-20 minutes throughout the school year.  Music enriches their academic program and adds spirit to the classroom. Modern Hebrew songs as well as traditional Shabbat and Holiday melodies are learned during the weekly Shira class.

The synagogue library is open on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons to our Religious School students.  Students in Kitah Bet and Gimel visit the library as part of their curriculum.

School (Tefillot) Prayer Services


  • Kindergarten – 2nd grade begin their day with the morning prayers as a class
  • 3rd – 6th grade join together for the Shacharit (morning) service led by a member of the faculty


  • 2nd – 5th grade join together for the Mincha (afternoon) service led by a member of the faculty


  • 6th – 7th grade join together for the Mincha (afternoon) service led by our clergy

Class Services
Students in Gimel through Vav have been assigned a Shabbat where they are invited to participate in various aspects of the service. Please check the School Calendar for your child’s class service date.

Class Trips
School trips are taken when unique opportunities can enhance the Religious School curriculum. Students in 7th grade visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage as part of their Holocaust curriculum.

Hebrew Support
Our school provides resource help for those students who need support in Hebrew letter and vowel recognition. Students may work individually with one of our teachers or in small groups. The sessions do not last more than 10-15 minutes, once a week. Students are referred to the Resource Room for additional instruction upon recommendation of the classroom teacher, with approval of the Education Director.

Resource Room is for students with regular attendance who need an “extra boost” in their Hebrew reading skills.  Students who have fallen behind due to excessive absences are not sent to the Resource Room for support (unless, of course, there are extenuating circumstances).

Enrichment Programs

The Religious School formal classroom setting is complemented by a variety of enrichment programs that are a key part of the school for each child.  It is recommended that each student participates in four or more enrichment programs over the course of the year.  Enrichment programs are organized into the following three categories:

RS Electives:

Electives vary by grade and are 3 to 5 weeks long depending on the subject.   For example, topics include Virtual Hebrew, Hanukkah Fun, Tallit and Tefillin and Nature and Judaism.  Electives are offered throughout the school year giving students the opportunity to choose different areas of interest.  Registration is sent via email 4-6 weeks before the elective begins. All electives are included in the Religious School tuition.

Synagogue-wide programs

These programs are designed to engage the whole family in the WJC experience.  Joining Shabbat services such Rhythm and Ruach and Simple and Soulful, participating in Mitzvah Day and Sisterhood Cooking for Hope are just a few examples of the engaging opportunities WJC offers to families in our congregation.

Family activities

We encourage our community to expand their Jewish educational experience beyond the school and the synagogue.  Performing mitzvot as a family, conducting Jewish rituals as a family at home, and visiting a Jewish museum are highlights of family activities.

Each student is required to complete an enrichment program in each of the three categories. Of course, children are welcome to and encouraged to do more than one from each, especially electives.

Religious School Shabbat

Religious School students with their families are encouraged to come on a select number of Saturdays (dates can be found on the school calendar).  It is our hope that the whole family will come with their students to WJC to celebrate these Shabbats.

Various options for attending these shabbats for our children and families may include:

  • Traditional Shabbat Service (children with a grownup) in the sanctuary led by our clergy.
  • Simple and Soulful Shabbat Service (children with a grownup) in the Activity Center led by our clergy.
  • Learner’s Service for children on their own or with a grown up facilitated by Religious School faculty. Children will mainly be in the Chapel and Library.  We will go into the main sanctuary 1-2 times with the Religious School faculty to listen in and learn together.
Special Programs

We feel children learn best by experience. Educational activities are not just limited to the classroom environment. We provide diverse and varied programs for our students.

Family Programs

Each family program is relevant to the specific grade curriculum and enables the parents to become partners in their child’s Jewish education.  These programs take place throughout the school year and are listed on the school calendar.


Helping others is an important Jewish value. One of the many mitzvot that we teach is the mitzvah of giving tzedakah, giving charity to those in need.  We encourage students to perform this mitzvah by bringing coins to Religious School class to partake in the mitzah.  At the end of the school year, each class decides together  where they would like the money their class collected to be donated.

7th grade Recognition

At the end of the school year, we recognize our 7th grade students, during our weekly Shabbat morning service, who have completed their years of Religious School.  We acknowledge all our students for their hard work and dedication.  Please see our Religious School calendar for the date and time.

Religious School Arrival and Dismissal Procedures

Religious School Hours

 Kindergarten –  1st grade     

Sunday, 10—12pm

2nd - 5th grade                       

Sunday, 10 – 12 pm

Wednesday, 3:45—6pm

6th grade

Sunday, 10 – 12 pm

Thursday,  3:45—6pm

7th grade

Thursday, 3:45—7:00 pm

Early Arrival on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons

Supervision on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons beginning at 3:00 pm is provided by WJC for students in 2nd – 7th grade.  Students are supervised by a member of the Religious School faculty.  To find out more about supervision at this time, please contact Aleza at

Arrival on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons

  • Religious School begins promptly at 3:45pm.
  • Students are to enter the school building via the upper parking entrance.
  • All other doors to the synagogue will be locked to maintain a secure environment.

Arrival for all Religious School Students on Sunday mornings

  • Religious School begins promptly at 10:00 am.
  • Students are to enter the school building via the upper parking entrance.
  • All other doors to the synagogue will be locked to maintain a secure environment.

Permission to Walk Home

Religious School students may be dismissed as a “walker” beginning in 3rd grade. Students may be released from school independently without a parent or caregiver. Families of every student in 3rd – 7th grade must fill out the appropriate form indicating permission for their child to be a walker. This form must be filled out each school year for each student.

At the beginning of the school year, a permission slip will be emailed home to all registered families with children in 3rd – 7th grade. No child will be permitted to walk home without a form turned submitted to the school office.


  • All students will be dismissed from the lower parking lot entrance. Students will remain with their class and be supervised by their teacher inside the WJC building as they await pick up.
  • We request for the safety of the children that all parents wait in the dismissal line and be patient.
  • Cars must enter via Palmer Avenue and line up around the circle so that children can enter the passenger side. At no point will any child be allowed to cross any lanes of traffic to reach any car.
  • All cars in the pickup line will exit via Palmer Avenue.
  • Do not enter the pickup line via Rockland Avenue.
  • All parents and caretakers that have chosen to park and walk to the entrance to WJC will go into the building to pick up your child(ren). A member of the Religious School Faculty will direct parents where your child(ren) are located in the lobby area.

Early Dismissal

In order to ensure safety, no child will be dismissed early without written permission or a phone call from the parent to the school office. Students will be dismissed only if a parent or caretaker picks up the student in person in the school office.  Children will not be released from class to wait outside the building or by the synagogue outside the door.  No exceptions will be made. Please don’t ask us.

Religious School Policies


During the week, the school days begin promptly at 3:45pm and conclude at 6:00pm (7:00pm on Thursday for 7th grade only). On Sunday, classes begin at 10:00am and conclude at 12:00pm.  Please help ensure that your child arrives on time for the beginning of each class. Given how few hours we have with the children each week, we want to ensure we are maximizing their learning opportunities.

  1. If you know, in advance, that your child will be absent from school please notify Eileen Fortuna in the school office at (914) 698-2966
  2. If there is excessive absenteeism, the parent shall receive notification from the Assistant Religious School Principal to try and understand what is causing the absences.  A recommendation may be made by your child’s teacher to review some of the material covered in class with your child in order to prevent your child from falling behind.
  3. Parents who are concerned that their children may not be able to attend Religious School on their designated day(s) of school on a regular basis needs to consult with the Educational Director as soon as any conflicts are identified to see if there are any possible accommodations that could be made.  All decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.  The Educational Director may consult with one or more of the parents(s), the Religious School teacher, the Religious School special educator, and if necessary, any appropriate outside professionals.

Discipline Policy

The staff at the WJC Religious School work with parents and educational professionals to provide a productive and safe learning environment for all of our students.  Students and teachers are expected to behave in a way that exemplifies the concept of “Derech Eretz,” proper respect.  On rare occasions, however, a student makes it difficult or impossible for the teacher to lead the class and for the other children to learn, or otherwise behaves in a manner that is not consistent with the exemplification of “Derech Eretz” towards our teachers, administrators, school, institution, building or facilities.  Our discipline policy is intended to be implemented only in those unusual circumstances where a child will not adjust his or her behavior to the requirements and safety standards of the Religious School.

  1. In the event a student is disruptive in class, which shall constitute behavior which, in the opinion of the teacher, is detrimental to the respectful work environment in the classroom, the teacher will speak directly to the student.  In the event that the student continues to act in an inappropriate or disruptive manner after having been spoken to previously, the teacher shall alert the Educational Director.  The Educational Director shall immediately notify the student’s parent or guardian to discuss the behavior.  The parent is strongly encouraged to speak with his or her child regarding this incident.

Upon notification that a student’s behavior has been disruptive for the third time, the Educational Director will require a meeting with the parent, student, teacher and Educational Director and, if the parent so requests, with a Rabbi.  The purpose of the meeting will be to determine appropriate measures to correct the disruptive behavior.  The student shall not be allowed to return to school until the meeting has taken place and a solution acceptable to the Educational Director is determined.

If the student is allowed to return to school and exhibits disruptive behavior for a fourth time, the student shall be suspended.  While suspended, the student shall complete a “mitzvah project” under the supervision of the student’s parent, in consultation with the Educational Director.  The student may return to Religious School after no fewer than 30 days from the date of suspension, provided that the student has completed the mitzvah project.  In addition, the student is responsible for learning the material covered in his or her class during the suspension.  Should tutoring be necessary as a result of the suspension, it shall be at the parent’s expense.

Upon return from suspension, if a student exhibits disruptive behavior for a fifth time, the student shall be suspended for the remainder of the school year.  The student may return the following year.  Tuition will not be refunded for any portion of the school year for which a student was suspended.

  1. If a student exhibits any other form of behavior deemed disruptive in the sole discretion of the Educational Director while attending Religious School, including (without limitation) defacing school property, acting disrespectful to teachers, administrators or any WJC staff member, etc., such student shall be subject to such disciplinary action as the Educational Director shall deem appropriate in her sole discretion.
  2. If a child has acted in any way that the Educational Director or Rabbi feels is dangerous or poses a safety risk to the children in the school, his or herself, the school staff, the WJC staff or any aspect of the school environment, immediate suspension will be imposed.  The length of suspension and whether the student shall be allowed to return to school will be at the sole discretion of the Educational Director.

Generally, the discipline policy shall not affect any student’s ability to become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the WJC Synagogue; however, all Bar/Bat Mitzvah dates are always subject to the discretion of the senior Rabbi.

Parents/guardians of any student who is suspended shall meet with the senior Rabbi to discuss alternatives in their child’s Jewish education.


Each week our families will receive a weekly newsletter via email from our Religious School Director that includes reminders of our upcoming school and WJC wide programs.  In addition, we will send program notifications and various classroom communication from the teachers via e-mail.

Once a month, in all grades, you will receive an email from your child’s teacher with a summary of what has been covered during the past month in school.  Recommendations for material to practice at home and any upcoming information that is important for your child’s class will be included in the letter.

During the month of January, teachers will offer a conference with parents via Zoom. Parents will be sent a schedule in December parents allowing families to choose a convenient time to meet with the teacher. During the conference, parents will be able to meet the teacher and hear about their child’s progress in class.


Snacks (may be modified due to Covid-19 Safety Protocols)

We ask that all snacks or food brought into the synagogue are properly marked KOSHER in keeping with Jewish dietary laws.  We ask families not to send food that has been prepared at home into the Center.  Fruits and vegetables are permitted in a Ziploc bag.  All other foods need to be in their original package.

Our school is nut-aware and does not service or allow any food containing nut products.  It is important to note that Westchester Jewish Center is not a nut-free building.  Please help us by not sending food items that may contain nut products including any products produced in a nut facility.

If you have specific questions, please feel free to contact Rabbi Arnowitz or Rabbi Dalton.

Inclement Weather

Our Religious School follows the Mamaroneck Public School calendar including closings for inclement weather.  Please note this includes any notifications from the Mamaroneck public schools that after-school programs have been canceled. If, however, we decide to cancel school when Mamaroneck public schools are open, our office will call the various schools and they will announce that Religious School has been canceled.   We will also send an email to all families.

Please call the school office if you are unsure if school is open and you have not been notified by phone or email.   For the safety of all of our children, we ask parents and caretakers not to drop off a child and leave until it has been determined that the building is open.

Early on Sunday mornings, we will send an email notifying Religious School families of any closings.


With the limited time we have each week for school and so much material to cover, we encourage our students to practice reading Hebrew each week at home in order to reinforce what is being taught in class.  We would be happy to provide our families with material so that your child can practice at home.  Teachers may also email material to help students strengthen Hebrew reading skills.  All materials that are sent home do not require parents to have a Hebrew reading base knowledge.

Cell Phones

Cell phones may be brought to school, but our policy is that they are not to be used during school hours.  Teachers will ask students to turn off their phones and put them away in their school bag.  If you need to reach your child during Religious School hours, please call our office at (914) 698-2966 and our Religious School Administrative Assistant will pass on any message.

Books and Supplies

Religious School books are kept at school in order to ensure that students have them available for every session.  If a family would like an extra copy of any school books to be kept at home for enrichment, we would apply to provide. Please contact the school office to let us know.

In the beginning of the school year, each teacher will notify parents as to what materials are needed for class.  All are encouraged to bring their own personal Kippot to Religious School.

WJC Shabbat and Holiday Youth Services

WJC provides religious services for children of all ages.  Services run from 10:45‑11:45 AM each week on Shabbat and on all holidays.

Torah for Tots: This Shabbat morning program is geared for children Early Childhood age through Kindergarten. Through stories and singing children are introduced to the traditions of Shabbat. All children are to be accompanied by a grown up.

Youth Service:  This Shabbat morning program is geared for children in 1st – 6th grade.  During this service, the group will spend time reciting various Shabbat prayers and discuss the weekly Torah portion.

All participants in our youth programs are invited with their family to join the congregation for a Kiddush lunch following our program.

Parent Involvement

Parents' Association (WJCPA): Our school is a partnership between the synagogue and the home. Our PA offers a variety of activities and opportunities for parents to learn and get involved in our school. We encourage you to join our PA and its many important projects.   To learn more about our PA contact Amy Mayer (, Jillian Levy ( or Keren Mizrahi (

Religious School Parent Group:   The Religious School has its very own committee to discuss Religious School issues. We meet 4-5 times during the school year on a Sunday morning.  Please see our school calendar for dates and times. Our committee co-chair people are Stephen Taubenfeld ( and Zachary Sigel (

Religious School Enhancement Fund:  This fund exists for the benefit of the children and staff of the Religious School. Special programs for the school, appropriate faculty gifts and opportunity for study for the teachers are some of the uses of the fund. When a family seeks an opportunity to thank or acknowledge a staff member, we encourage a donation to this fund.


Education Goals

Please click below to see the curriculum for each grade in the Religious School.

GAN ~ Kindergarten

GAN (Kindergarten)

This is a very exciting year for children in Gan as they begin to explore their Judaism.  During the school year, Gan will begin each session with tzedakah and tefillah.  They will enjoy music and celebrate the holidays as they appear on the Jewish calendar.   Students will also be introduced to Hebrew vocabulary such as numbers and colors.  Gan children will also learn their given Hebrew name and how when they are older they will be called to the Torah by this name.

In Gan, the children will also discover stories from the Torah.  As a culmination of their learning, children, along with their grown up,  will create a personal Torah to take home and cherish as a family.

Stories in the Torah include:

  • Creation
  • Garden of Eden
  • Noah’s Ark
  • Abraham and his family
  • Jacob and Esau
  • Joseph
  • Moses
KITAH ALEF ~ 1st grade

KITAH ALEF (1st grade)
Each week will hold a new and exciting discovery for the children in 1st grade.  Every Sunday, students will recite morning Tefillot, give Tzedakah and have the opportunity to share a mitzvah (good deed) they accomplished on their own.  Music, holidays and Hebrew language are a big part of their weekly routine.

Doing Mitzvot and giving tzedakah to those in need is one of the core values in Judaism.  It is a value that begins at a young age and continues throughout life.  Beginning in 1st grade, we will also learn to identify different mitzvot that connect to the Jewish community.  Each mitzvah we will learn together will guide our children throughout their lives.

Mitzvot include:

  • Giving Tzedekah (charity)
  • Thanking God
  • Visiting the Sick
  • Guard your tongue
  • Save the Earth
  • Welcome Guests
KITAH BET ~ 2nd Grade

KITAH BET (2nd Grade)
In Kitah Bet, students begin attending Religious School on Wednesday afternoons in addition to their studies on Sunday mornings.  With the additional day, they will be able to begin learning to read and write in Hebrew. We also focus on the Jewish holidays as they appear on the Jewish calendar and Israel, as the Jewish homeland.


  • Identify Hebrew letters and vowels
  • Connect Hebrew letters with vocabulary
  • Learn to write Hebrew letters and vowels


  • Different regions and cities in Israel such as Haifa, Judean Desert and Tel Aviv
  • History of Jerusalem
  • Historical figures in Israel history
  • Customs and traditions found in Israel

Jewish Calendar

  • The structure of the Hebrew calendar including names of Hebrew months
  • Hebrew birthdays as a connection to becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah
  • Holidays as they appear on the calendar

Kitah Bet attends Tefillot on Wednesday afternoons with 3rd - 5th grade and on Sunday mornings with 3rd – 6th grade.  This service is an introduction for our 2nd grade to the prayers included in the Shacharit (Morning) and Mincha (afternoon) services.

KITAH GIMEL ~ 3rd grade

KITAH GIMEL (3rd grade)
In Kitah Gimel, we will continue to build upon the foundation in Hebrew that was established in 2nd grade.   In conjunction with learning Hebrew, Kitah Gimel will explore the stories from Bereshit (Genesis) and Shemot (Exodus)

In Hebrew students will learn:

  • To read and write in Hebrew
  • Hebrew vocabulary that strengthens their letter and vowel recognition.
  • To connect to the Torah by learning how the Torah is written and how we are called to the Torah for an Aliyah.   

Third grade will also focus on the Friday Night Shabbat service and learn prayers such as:

  • Shalom Aleichem
  • Romemu
  • Kiddush
  • Barchu
  • Shema and V'ahavta

Kitah Gimel attends Tefillot on Wednesday afternoons with 4th and 5th grade and on Sunday morning with 4th – 6th grade.

As a culmination of the school year, we will join together for a Gimel Siddur Celebration.  During the Friday Evening Shabbat service, the children will each receive a Siddur (prayer book) from the WJC Parents’ Association.   This Siddur will be used in the future during the school year and on Shabbat.

KITAH DALET ~ 4th grade

KITAH DALET (4th grade)

In Kitah Dalet we will continue to strengthen the student’s skills in Hebrew reading and writing throughout the school year.  Hebrew reading will be reinforced while focusing on prayers from the Friday evening service.

Prayers include:

  • Brachot Shel Shabbat, Yom Tov and Mitzvot
  • Kiddush
  • Barchu
  • Shema and V'ahavta

Students in 4th grade will be introduced to the TaNaKh, the sacred book that contains the Torah (Five Books of Moses), Neviim (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings).  As we learn in 4th grade about the different prophets, a connection to the B’nei Mitzvah will be established.  Students who have a Shabbat morning Bar/Bat Mitzvah will not only be called to the Torah for an Aliyah, but will also chant the Haftorah which comes from the Book of Prophets.

KITAH HEY ~ 5th grade

KITAH HEY (5th grade)
In 5th grade students are becoming more independent and feel a stronger connection to their friends, family, and community.  As this change happens for the students, we will explore Jewish values that relate to this development.

Such values include:

  • Hakarat HaTov (Gratitude)
  • Shalom Bayit (Peace in the House)
  • Emet (Honesty)
  • Anavah (Humility)

Kitah Hey will continue to progress in their Hebrew reading and writing skills, now focusing on the Shabbat morning and afternoon service.

Such prayers include:

  • Order of prayers recited during the Shabbat morning service
  • Shabbat morning Kiddush
  • Ashrei
  • Birkat Shalom
  • Havdalah
KITAH VAV ~ 6th grade

KITAH VAV (6th grade)
In 6th grade, the year is devoted to the values and prayers that strengthen the connection that each student will have when becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

As part of their Hebrew reading program, the focus for Kitah Vav will be on the Shabbat morning and afternoon service.  This will introduce the students to various prayers that they will lead at their Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

Such prayers include:

  • Blessing before and after an Aliyah
  • Blessing before and after the Haftarah
  • The various times in the service we recite Kaddish
  • Prayers recited before opening the Ark
  • Prayers recited when returning the Torah to the Ark

Students will also explore values that teach us our responsibility in the community.  These values are the stepping stones to becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

Such values include:

  • Reyut (Friendship)
  • Ometz Lev (Courage)
  • Arevut (Mutual Responsibility)
  • Kehillah (Community)
  • Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World)
KITAH ZAYIN ~ 7th grade

KITAH ZAYIN (7th grade)
Kitah Zayin meets on Thursday afternoons from 3:45 – 7:00pm.  The students focus on the Holocaust, a significant time in our Jewish history, and on Israel, our Jewish homeland.

Throughout the year, as 7th graders study the Holocaust, they will learn the impact of racism, religious intolerance, and indifference in order to understand how history has impacted our world today. Through discussion, videos, and historical articles, students are able to see the importance of our history and how it shapes our lives today.

As students in Zayin become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the hope is that they will recognize Israel, which is our homeland, as the Jewish people.

Students will learn:

  • The meaning of Zionism
  • The significance of the Israel Army,
  • The history of the Kibbutz
  • Different wars fought in Israel
  • Jerusalem (Old and New)
  • Israel inventions
  • Various sports played in Israel

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