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.
WHAT ARE THESE PRINCIPLES?
TIKUN OLAM: MENDING THE WORLD
TZEDEK TZEDEK TIRDOFF: SEEK THE SAME JUSTICE FOR OTHERS AS YOU DEMAND FOR YOURSELF
TORAH L’SHMA: THE STUDY OF TORAH FOR ITS OWN SAKE
KOL YISRAEL AREVIM ZEH LA’ZEH: WE ARE EACH RESPONSIBLE FOR ONE ANOTHER
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:
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!
Education Director and Synagogue Program Coordinator
Tap on the topic below to learn more.
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, Gimel and Dalet visit the library as part of their curriculum.
School (Tefillot) Prayer 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.
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.
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).
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 Hours
Kindergarten – 1st grade
2nd - 5th grade
Sunday, 10 – 12 pm
Sunday, 10 – 12 pm
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Arrival on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons
Arrival for all Religious School Students on Sunday mornings
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, found here, must be filled out each school year for each student. No child will be permitted to walk home without a form submitted to the school office.
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.
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.
The Religious School Committee and 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.
In the event that 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.
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 disrespectfully 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.
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.
During the course of the school year, parents will receive communication via email directly from your child’s teacher with a summary of what has been covered in class. 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.
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 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 provides religious services for children of all ages. Services begin at 11:00 AM each week on Shabbat and on all holidays. At the conclusion of services, children are invited to join the clergy on the bimah for concluding prayers.
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.
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 (email@example.com), Jillian Levy (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Keren Mizrahi (email@example.com)
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 Zachary Sigel (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Gabe Wasserman (email@example.com)
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.
Please click below to see the curriculum for each grade in the Religious School.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
Shema and V’ahavta
L’cha Dodi (Chorus)
Kitah Gimel attends Tefillot on Wednesday afternoons with 2nd, 4th and 5th grade and on Sunday morning with 2nd and 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.
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.
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 Dalet attends Tefillot on Wednesday afternoons with 2nd, 3rd and 5th grade and on Sunday morning with 2nd, 3rd and 5th – 6th 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)
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:
Shabbat Evening Kiddush
Amidah (Avot, Gevurot, Kedusha)
Kitah Hey attends Tefillot on Wednesday afternoons with 2nd – 4th grade and on Sunday morning with 2nd – 4th and 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:
Ometz Lev (Courage)
Arevut (Mutual Responsibility)
Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World)
Kitah Vav attends Tefillot on Thursday afternoons with 7th grade and Sunday morning with 2nd – 5th 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:
Kitah Zayin attends Tefillot on Thursday afternoons with 6th grade.