Chabad Richmond’s Hebrew school teaches kids to read Hebrew, explore Jewish history, revel in hands-on Jewish living through holiday experiences and traditions, and pray. Plus, students learn a new mitzvah each week.
The Hebrew school – which is for kids in kindergarten through Grade 7 and geared for students not attending Jewish day schools – welcomes all Jewish children who want to join, and enrolment has doubled in the past year. Classes take place on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and no synagogue membership is required. The new school year begins on Sunday, Sept. 12, and registration is now open for the 2021-2022 year.
“For many children, this is their weekly dose of Judaism and we want it to be associated with joy,” said Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman, director of Chabad Richmond. “Our goal is that the education we provide will inspire them to bring our traditions into their homes in a practical way. We provide kids with a joyful sense of religious pride, identity and belonging, which is fundamental to spiritual growth and emotional health.”
“We believe that the Hebrew school experience should be fun, inspiring, and something the kids look forward to each week,” said Hebrew school director Chana Gordon. “Our goal is for the children to love learning Torah and be proud of their Jewish heritage. We hope to instil in your child a love of Israel and a desire to live by and celebrate our faith.”
The curriculum aims to give children a broad knowledge of Judaism in a stimulating, fun and challenging environment; an environment that highlights the joys, values and traditions of their Jewish heritage. The curriculum focuses on tzedakah (charity); Hebrew; Jewish history, holidays and values; arts and crafts; and Israel.
Students’ parents attest to the impact it’s had on their children. One mom, Deborah Butterman, said: “My son really enjoyed every aspect of the Aleph Champ [Hebrew learning] program at Hebrew school. It made him very positive and he’s having a lot of fun, and meeting a lot of other people in the Jewish community that we never had a chance to connect with before. It has motivated him to be proud of his Jewish heritage. He learned how to read from a siddur already. He’s learning about praying and how to do many things for the holidays…. It’s an exciting part of his week, every week.”
Another Hebrew school mother said, “The teachers at Chabad Hebrew school have worked hard to create a wonderful learning environment. They have encouraged my children to learn at their own level, and made them feel comfortable asking pertinent questions regarding Judaism. This positive environment offers convenience of location and a fun social network, in a nurturing environment. The fact that my children are eager to take time away from their weekends to go to Hebrew school each Sunday morning speaks volumes.”
Irina Sanders said about her daughter’s experience: “Rona loves coming to Hebrew school. She learned to read Hebrew, [and] loves participating in different activities and learning more about traditions.”
“It’s not all Torah learning and Hebrew,” noted Baitelman. “It’s also thematic arts and crafts, making holiday decorations, challah baking, singing and interacting with other children. It’s the whole Jewish experience, packaged into an interactive, warm and inspiring environment, led by enthusiastic, devoted teachers.”
– Courtesy Chabad Richmond