A Memorable Visit with Rabbi Marcelo

Kitah Gan and Kitah Aleph visit Rabbi Marcelo and the 88th Street sanctuary.One of the hallmarks of the Kitah Aleph curriculum at BJ Hebrew School is our Synagogue Study. Learners explore what takes place in a synagogue—its sacred objects, rituals, life cycle evets—and the role a shul plays in an individual’s life and the Jewish community as a whole. Of course, the focus of our study is our very own synagogue, B’nai Jeshurun.

Joined by Kitah Gan, the Kindergarten students in our Hebrew School, the children launched our investigation by interviewing Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein in his office. Our goals were to learn about what it means to be a rabbi, and the rabbi’s role in the synagogue, and beyond. Their questions ranged from, “How did you become a rabbi?” and “How do you make a speech?” to “Can you tell us about your Bar Mitzvah?” The latter question turned out to be as important as the others as it helped the children to identify with Rabbi Marcelo as a regular person and feel comfortable with him.

Rabbi Marcelo welcomed us into his office, which is lined with books from top to bottom. The impressive number of books—an ideal springboard for our discussion—captivated the students. We learned that a rabbi’s job includes teaching and learning. Rabbi Marcelo explained that, through reading his books, he continues to learn what the sages teach us about Torah. He pointed out that there is no end to what we can learn about our tradition, which is why in addition to reading, he engages other rabbis and thinkers in conversations to help him interpret the Torah.

After spending some time in Rabbi Marcelo’s office, the students followed him into BJ’s beautiful sanctuary. The children were interested in the stained glass windows and asked questions about the Kitah Gan and Kitah Aleph talk with Rabbi Marcelo in his office. unique ceiling design. They were also curious about the organ pipes above the Ark, which they thought looked like “giant pencils.” Rabbi Marcelo invited the students to take an up-close look into the Ark where the children found nine Torah scrolls. The children also learned that one of the Torah scrolls is particularly special because it was hidden for many years, rescued, and then donated by a family to B’nai Jeshurun.

Kitah Aleph’s visit with Rabbi Marcelo fueled the children’s enthusiasm for learning about their synagogue, their community and its leaders. Todah, Rabbi Marcelo!


Wendy Waxman is a Kitah Aleph teacher at the BJ Hebrew School. Wendy also serves on the Families with Young Children committee. She, her husband Matthew, and daughter Rosalie have been BJ members since 2011.