About the FHJC Religious School

Our Approach

The FHJC Religious School recipe

Religious schoolBegin with a love for Judaism and the desire to promote a community of friends for our learners.

Use a spectrum of active learning techniques to guide our learners to acquire knowledge and skills.

Add to that a joyful environment which fosters kindness, Jewish values and Jewish life skills.

Combine to reach Our Sacred Goal: To imbue a child with the skills, relationships, values and knowledge upon which to build a rich life based on a strong Jewish identity.

At the Forest Hills Jewish Center Religious School we go beyond educating a child’s head through the acquisition of knowledge. We address the heart by exploring beliefs and values; the hands through lived ritual, service and celebration; and the feet, guiding the student to stand in relationship with their classroom, synagogue and world community.
We look forward to welcoming you, your child, and your family into our community through meaningful Jewish engagement.

Our Schedule

HaKen/The Nest for 3 & 4 year olds
Gan & Aleph/ Kindergarten & First Grade
Bet/Second Grade
Gimmel-Zayin/3rd-7th Grade
plus Hebrew Reading Tutoring
plus flex ½ hour during the week
Chet/8th Grade
5:30-7:30, includes dinner
Hebrew High
11-12:30, includes breakfast

For the 2023-24 Religious School calendar, click here.

When To Begin Religious School

Kindergarten FHJCFamilies are strongly encouraged to enroll each child starting in Kindergarten/Gan. To celebrate Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the traditional age of 13 at FHJC, a child must begin Religious School no later than the 3rd grade. In other cases, families wishing to enroll a child must meet with the Hazzan or Director of Education for an assessment and to recommend grade placement or tutoring. In such situations, the time of a bar/bat mitzvah will be adjusted to fit the level of the student.

Our Curriculum

Our Judaics Curriculum
FHJC Religious School offers a spiraling curriculum for Judaics that exposes our students to an expanding base of Jewish knowledge and encourages a mastery of ritual, prayer, and an understanding of Torah, Jewish identity and Israel. To engage our students and connect them to the Jewish narrative we explore how Jewish values and learning builds community and leads each child to thrive. We begin with a joyous experience of holidays and Israel, move on to investigate Jewish lifecycle and rituals and then delve into our students’ responsibility to their community. As our students mature, they wrestle with Jewish text, their relationship with the Jewish community and approach dilemmas they face every day from a Jewish perspective. Woven throughout the curriculum are essential life lessons that promote empathy and encourage resiliency. To learn more about the focus of each grade, contact the Religious School.

Our Hebrew curriculum
Kids-in-religious-schoolHebrew is a tool that anchors our students to Jewish life. While we are much more than a Hebrew School, prayer skills and Hebrew decoding are a priority at the Forest Hills Jewish Center Religious School. Students begin their day with a traditional, musical, age-appropriate minyan, prayer service, learning key Hebrew prayers. Modern Hebrew is an integral part of every grade’s Hebrew learning. Bulletin boards, music and games create a rich Hebrew environment.
Even before Gan/Kindergarten, children have an opportunity to be exposed to Hebrew vocabulary through songs and games in our HaKen/Nest program. Hebrew names, holiday terms and songs familiarize our young students with the sounds of Hebrew. Using experiential methods, Hebrew letters are introduced in our Aleph class for first graders as is modern Hebrew vocabulary. By Kitah Bet, second grade, students can read one and two syllable Hebrew words. In grades 3-8, students build upon this foundation mastering prayers, basic conversational vocabulary and fluent Hebrew reading. We use technology to it’s best advantage to support Hebrew learning. Each child in 3rd grade and above receives a ½ hour per week of Hebrew tutoring with a teacher and one other student via
zoom and scheduled at your convenience.

Minyan / Prayer Services
At the Forest Hills Jewish Center, Religious School students in grades 3-Hebrew High participate regularly in Minyan. They don’t just learn about prayer; they develop prayer skills in an authentic and age-appropriate prayer service. Younger students experience prayer through weekly music sessions. Spirituality is nurtured in all grades through reflection and discussion. In addition, attendance at congregational worship is encouraged through our Shabbat on the Stoop and Junior Congregation.

Community Building and Enrichment
The FHJC Religious School is intentionally designed to be a safe space for sharing and growing. Each day at FHJC contains opportunities to support and sustain our students and their classroom community. Whether our students are participating in living their Jewish values or cooking together, they are building friendship bonds that will last. To learn more about our community building activities click here [should go to Learning Beyond the Classroom].

Enrichment and Remedial Support

We see each of our learners as an individual with strengths and challenges. It is our goal to provide skill development and enrichment for all of our learners. The FHJC Religious School sustains learners at all levels of ability and will do what is necessary, whenever possible, to provide a robust Jewish education to every Jewish child. One-on-one and small group attention is a regular part of learning for all levels including children with special needs. We work closely with parents to provide the right amount of support for each child.

Learning Beyond the Classroom

Beyond the classroomWhether it’s attending a Broadway show, a museum or rallying against anti-Semitism, students at the Forest Hills Jewish Center Religious School and Hebrew High School live their learning. Through trips, social action opportunities and class activities, education is taken far beyond the classroom. This enables students to bond as a community, learn and have fun too!

Chuggim “electives” are offered to our Hey through Chet, 5th-8th grade, students. Students enjoy choosing from Jewish Dungeons and Dragons to Israeli cooking.

Klei Kodesh/Holy Tools; Mindfulness at FHJC
Mindfulness not only reduces stress and anxiety, improves focus and helps students struggling emotionally and academically. It also frees our brain to be able to embrace compassion for ourselves and others, and to be a witness to the good and beauty in our world; all important Jewish values. That is why we intentionally teach and practice mindfulness techniques in the FHJC Religious School in all grades.

Better Together
The Forest Hills Jewish Center has been awarded an opportunity to participate in the Better Together™ program; a sophisticated, multi- modality, hands-on approach to social action. Students in 6th and 8th grade meet throughout the year with a senior partner to work on a joint project based upon Jewish values and text. These intergenerational interactions support the growth and development of empathy in our students, and the health and wellbeing of the seniors.

Celebrating and Learning as a Family

Father and daughterOur families are an integral and important part of the Forest Hills Jewish Center and we are committed to nourishing and supporting parents and families.
We recognize that families are the heart of Judaism, no matter what your family looks like. Each grade has unique family learning opportunities that support the curriculum for that grade. Families get to meet other families to socialize and learn together. At FHJC Religious School, you and your child can create stained glass dreidels, participate in a book club and take field trips, celebrate Shabbat and reflect on the learning for the year.

Our Faculty

When asked what she loved about attending the FHJC Religious School, Sarah, a Hebrew High School graduate said, “ I always knew that the teachers really cared about me.” Our faculty are warm, supportive and professional. Many have teaching degrees or degrees in social work, and are Hebrew speakers. They bring their outstanding Jewish knowledge, enthusiasm and excitement to their students both in person and virtually. The Rabbi and Hazzan are integrally involved in Religious School instruction, leading minyan, and teaching Hebrew High. Their regular interactions with students encourage that feeling of being at home and part of the larger Forest Hills Jewish Center community.

For an introduction to Jessica Braginsky, the Director of Education and Engagement, click here.

Hebrew Academy For Hebrew Speakers

Grades Gan, Alef & Bet, Gimmel & Daled (K-4th) This is a special opportunity for children in grades Gan and up, who are exposed to fluent Hebrew speakers in their home. This Sunday program focuses on Hebrew literacy and Israeli culture. It is conducted entirely in Hebrew and uses workbooks and literature from Israel. Just as you would find in a secular school in Israel, the classes contain an awareness of the holiday cycle, the land of Israel and study of beloved Bible stories and their values. The emphasis is on having an Israeli educational and cultural experience for the students and their families.
Students learn to read and write Hebrew in a dynamic, supportive and engaging environment. Israeli music and Israeli dancing further the connection to Israel. Most rewarding for the students is that they interact with each other in Hebrew and build a Hebrew speaking community of friends.

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