Kane Street Synagogue Hebrew School creates a stimulating and welcoming atmosphere that makes Judaism come alive for children from all types of Jewish backgrounds. We encourage open questioning and strive to help students and their families find their own personal meaning in our rich Jewish traditions.
Our Hebrew School education includes two main components: weekday classes and Shabbat services. We also sponsor family activities such as class dinners and field trips. Students experience Judaism as a living culture and graduate knowing about their heritage and feeling pride in their connection with the Jewish community. We place great emphasis on giving children the knowledge and skills they need to become active participants in Jewish life. Kane Street Synagogue provides an excellent opportunity for children to begin the life-long process of Jewish learning.
Please contact our educational director to learn more about our Hebrew School or to schedule a meeting and tour. One of the best ways to get to know us and see what our school is like is to come and visit while school is in session.
Non-member children may enroll in our Roshanim (Preschool) and Gan (Kindergarten) classes. Kane Street Synagogue membership is required for enrollment for all other Hebrew School classes. Jewish education for children is deeper and more lasting and meaningful when kids see that their parents are engaged in Jewish life too. No one is turned away from Kane Street because of financial constraints. Special fee considerations will be made upon request. If you have any questions concerning fees, please speak with our Educational Director.
Schedule of Classes
Roshanim (3s and 4s) – Wednesdays 4 – 5:15 PM
Gan (Kindergarten) and Bet (2nd Grade) – Mondays 4-6 PM
Alef (1st Grade) – Wednesdays 4 – 6 PM
Gimmel, Dalet, Hey, Vav, Zayin (3rd – 6th Grades) – Mondays and Wednesdays 4- 6 PM
Miftan (7th Grade) – Tuesdays 4:30 – 7:15 PM
Bogrim (8th – 11th Grades) – Tuesdays 6 – 8 PM
What Makes Our Hebrew School Different
Our curriculum, leaders and teachers create an atmosphere of fun and engagement while also providing substantive learning in which children are challenged and feel respected. We build a space that feels safe for all kinds of learners, personalities and family backrounds, and we encourage open expression so every child knows that s/he matters and belongs. Children learn Hebrew as a living language. We emphasize conversational Hebrew in our weekday program. Students learn to speak, read, write and understand modern Hebrew. They learn vocabulary and the basics of Hebrew grammar so that by the time they complete 6th grade, they can translate short stories and speak in full sentences. While they may not be fluent by attending our school 2 afternoons a week, they certainly have the building blocks to become fluent; they will have the skills they need to speak and understand while visiting Israel. In contrast to most Hebrew Schools in which children spend most of their time learing to recite prayers during class, we teach prayers organically and in a way which is more exciting and active; students learn prayers and songs with our Music Specialist or weekdays and while participating in Family Services on Shabbat morning, holiday services and other prayer services.
Our students are expected to attend a minimum number of Shabbat services each school year so they may master the words and meaning of the prayers and experience the joy of celebrating Shabbat as part of a community. Parents are always welcome to join our family services where they may learn and pray alongside their child. At the end of the school year, the congregation holds a Kiddush to honor all students who attend 20 Shabbat and holiday services during the year. Although we highly encourage attendance at the Kane Street youth services on Saturday morning, we also accept attendance at other Kane Street services or at another synagogue.
The minimum number of Shabbat Youth Services per year for K – 7th grade follows:
K + 1st Grade – 8 services
2nd + 3rd Grade – 12 services
4th, 5th + 6th Grade – 18 services
7th Grade – 22 services
Download the 2012 – 2013 Parent Handbook
Family education programs are an important part of our Hebrew School curriculum. These voluntary programs offer families the opportunity to engage in Jewish learning and celebration with the greater Kane Street Synagogue community. All family education programming is open to both our Hebrew School and Jewish Day School families. Most programs take place on Shabbat or Jewish holidays.
Download the 2012-2013 Family Programs Calendar
Our teachers are recruited for their passion about Jewish living, rapport with children and creativity. Some of our teachers have many years of teaching experience while some are newer to teaching, but each has enthusiastically embraced this calling. Every teacher is actively working to make the learning experience of the children of Kane Street Synagogue Hebrew School rewarding, fun and meaningful. Our teachers come from a variety of backgrounds: some are Israeli born, some American or Canadian born, some are Ashkenazic while others are Sephardic or Mizrachi (from Middle Eastern countries). Our teachers represent a spectrum of religious belief and practice: many are life-long Conservative Jews, others are Reform Jews and still others are Modern Orthodox. Some resist obvious categorization. It is with deliberate intention that a diverse group of teachers is chosen. As a faculty team they represent a variety of paths to living a good Jewish life. They stand as role models for the children, and with each new teacher, children get to see a different model of authentic Jewish practice and belief.
During the Hebrew School year, the children learn Conersational Hebrew, Hebrew reading and writing, Tanakh (Bible), Holidays, Jewish History and values, Israeli people, places and history, God and Mitzvot and much more. Our curriculum is flexible, based on the needs of our students and the strengths of our teachers. Older children learn about the Holocaust, the creation of Israel and do Torah study with traditional commentaries.
What can you expect during Hebrew School? Walk through the halls of Kane Street Hebrew School, and the first thing you notice is the buzz of activity. Students in our classes are actively engaged in their learning. You might walk into a game of Hebrew Basketball in Kitah Zayin or the Shabbat circle in Gan, when students recite the Shabbat blessings over challah and juice to practice for SHabbat. You could walk into a group of Kitah Dalet students creating a life-size depiction of Goliath in order to gain a better understanding of the text of David fighting Goliath. Or Kitah Bet, learning Hebrew vocabulary while doing yoga. You might get to see the children in Roshanim dancing to hte song “Etz CHaim” and see them freeze and pose like a tree when they Music Teacher shouts “Etz!” Kittah Hey might be working on creating a job chart for the mock moshav (collective farm like a kibbutz) they are creating filled with new immigrants from Yemen in the 1950′s. You will see a lot of smiles and hear a lot of animated voices.
Quite frequently we hear comments like these from our parents:
“I wish my Hebrew School experience had been like this – my children really enjoy your school.” And from both teachers and parents we hear: “The level of Hebrew reading and understanding of the students is very good – I’m impressed.” “Your classrooms are so active. Everyone is so busy learning.”
Curriculum By Grade Level
Children at age 3 and 4 build a sense of community and identification with Judaism. They learn songs, hear stories and do holiday, Shabbat and Torah crafts. They learn some basic Hebrew phrases and encounter Hebrew letters to guild a familiarity with the Alef-Bet.
Kindergartners learn Torah stories, Hebrew letters and vowels, encounter Israel as a place special to and beloved by Jews. Students begin to explore the nature of God and learn a focabulary to ask questions about God. Crafts, play-acting, Hebrew games, singing and stores are a major component of the class.
First graders strengthen their Hebrew letter and vowel recognition, learn a 25-word Hebrew vocabulary, and begin to write in Hebrew (script). Students explore the calendar of holidays, associating each holiday with its major symbols and stories. Students learn core Jewish values and apply them to their own lives and traditional Jewish stories. Students learn Shabbat and holiday music.
Second graders master Hebrew letters and vowels, and become more fluent readers and practice writing in script. They recognize 50 Hebrew words and are able to understand simple sentences. They explore Israeli people, places and culture, and they continue to build their understanding and application of Jewish ethics. THe Bet class explores questions about God through stories, activities and discussion. Students learn Shabbat and holiday music.
Gimmel and Dalet
Third and Fourth graders master Hebrew script writing, expand their Hebrew vocabulary, recognizing 100 words, and can form simple sentences. They can read and translate stories with the help of a dictionary. They learn basic grammatical rules, distinguishing singular and plural, masculine and feminine and becoming more confident in speaking Hebrew. They learn abou tthe rites and rituals of a Jewish life cycle. They learn how to bring holiness into their everyday life and build a vocabulary to talk about God. They deepen their understanding of the Jewish calendar of holidays and create their own artwork for each holiday. Students learn Shabbat and holiday music.
Fifth graders continue to build their Hebrew speaking, reading and comprehension skills using more sophisticated stories. They improve their grammar and know 200 Hebrew words. They learn about the creation of the state of Israel, its major heroes, its obstacles and triumphs. They consider the current stalemate between Jews and Palestinians. They encounter Jewish heroes from history and contemporary leaders and newsmakers focusing on the values that have driven these leaders. Students will learn liturgical music and holiday songs. Students actively participate in Shabbat prayer and begin to take leadership roles.
Vav and Zayin
Sixth and Seventh graders polish their Hebrew speaking, reading and comprehension. They learn how to decline verbs of several binyanim (categories), and begin to master past and future tenses. They improve their grammar and know 200-300 Hebrew words. Students will learn to do a close reading of Torah texts with commentary to pull out relevant meanings. They will learn in depth about the Holocaust and will do independent work using GoogleEarth to better understand Jewish experience during that time. They will also encounter major eras of Jewish transition and upheaval through choose-your-own-adventure books. Seventh graders will spend several sessions with Rabbi Weintraub preparing a b’nai mitzvah divrei Torah. Students will learn Torah trope and the prayers of the Shabbat Musaf service. Students become confident leading prayer in youth services and begin attending services in the sanctuary.
Hebrew Groups for Gimmel, Dalet, Hey and Vav
By 3rd grade, children will have developed a basic mastery of Hebrew letters, vowels, reading and writing. By this time some children will begin to accelerate if language acquisition is a strength. Other children may need more attention and will learn better at a slower pace. For this reason, we place children in a Hebrew Group that we believe will be most compatible with their level of ability, interest and motivation. Children are placed based on written and oral evaluations and consultations between the Director and the Hebrew teachers. Placements are not permanent and may be adjusted over the course of the year at any time if it becomes apparent that the student would be better suited to a different Hebrew group. The Hebrew groups are named for 4 cities in Israel, and the Mountain in the center of Jerusalem: Beersheva, Modi’in, Yafo, Yerushalayim and Har Tzion.
Mah Chadash (What’s New?) (newsletter) is e-mailed to parents weekly during the school year. Mah Chadash includes news about the following:
Calendar of upcoming events
Shabbat service schedule
Websites to visit for books to read
Fun family activities
Explanations of upcoming events, fundraisers and other things happening in and around Kane Street
Hebrew School Committee
This committee, which reports to the Kane Street Board of Trustees, works with our professional staff to achieve the Hebrew School’s mission. The committee is composed of parents of Hebrew School students and Bogrim students. Committee members meet monthly with the educational director on the policies, practices and financial operations of the school. The committee also spearheads fundraising efforts and works to promote the school within the local Jewish community. Current members of the Hebrew School Committee are:
Hebrew School Board Co-Chairs
Rachel Burton (co-chair) Rachel_Burton@yahoo.com
Norman Cohen (co-chair) Normanccohen@gmail.com
Members of the Hebrew School Committee
Jenny Breznay, past chair
Rabbi Valerie Lieber (Educational Director)
Rabbi Sam Weintraub
About Our Director
Director of Education
Rabbi Valerie Lieber
718-875-1550 x 117
Rabbi Valerie Lieber oversees the Hebrew School, Shabbat and Holiday children’s services, Shabbat Club and Family Education programs at Kane Street. Valerie began working with our community in the summer of 2008 and quickly exhibited her strengths as an educator and administrator.
Valerie graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Swarthmore College and a month later was immersed in rabbinical study in Jerusalem. Rabbi Lieber received ordination at Hebrew Union College in New York in 1995. She served as Rabbi-Educator at Temple Beth Ahavath Sholom in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn for seven years. She then became the spiritual leader of Temple Israel of Jamaica in Queens for six years where she led the congregation through the Experiment in Congregational Education Re-Imagine program, a national project exploring congregational education. Rabbi Lieber has published chapters and articles in anthologies including The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, an award-winning volume published in 2007.
Though she was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, she has lived with her partner, Leah Kooperman, in Park Slope since 1993. She considers Brooklyn one of the great Jewish holy lands. You can sometimes see her riding around Brooklyn on her bicycle or her motor scooter. She’d love you to wave and shout hello.