Hebrew Immersion, Song and Creative Play: New Young Family Programs for a New Year

At BJ, Jewish identity begins to develop in the earliest years of childhood. Creative programs, such as Bim Bam and Children’s Services, provide families with young children regular opportunities to connect with Judaism and with one another.

As we look ahead to the new year, the Youth and Family Education department is gearing up for an expansion of early childhood programming to address the needs of our youngest children and their families. With generous support from the EGL Charitable Foundation, this expansion will build upon the success of our existing programs and provide new pathways into Judaism such as Hebrew immersion, curated play experiences, and new Shabbat and holiday opportunities.

This year, BJ will offer multiple Hebrew immersion experiences for young children including KesheTOT, an Israeli song session led by the talented musician and educator, Shira Averbuch. We are also planning to offer a weekday morning Hebrew language program, as well as an after school session for BJ’s school-age children who are interested in expanding their Hebrew skills and vocabulary.

The BJ Hebrew School is partnering with the Jewish Education Project on a pilot project to support Jewish learning for children who attend Harlem Hebrew Charter School, a member of the Hebrew Charter School Center, supported by the Steinhardt Foundation. Together with these institutions, BJ is developing a pilot program for students in kindergarten through 2nd grade that will enhance and build upon the secular education the children receive in school. For example, a unit for kindergarteners may revolve around learning Hebrew words for a child’s morning routine. Later, in the afternoon, children will come to BJ and study the Modeh Ani and Birkat Hashahar, putting their Hebrew learning into a Jewish context.

Children will continue to explore and discover Shabbat and holidays through BJ’s innovative programming, including new PJ Library Havdalah events and holiday experiences.

Welcoming Allison Kapusta to YFE

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As part of this expansion, we are happy to welcome Allison Kapusta, Assistant Director of Education for Early Childhood, to the team. Allison is originally from Long Island and is a graduate of Binghamton University. She recently completed her MA in Jewish Education at Jewish Theological Seminary. Allison completed her graduate school internship at The Center for Family Life at The JCC in Manhattan where she focused on Shabbat and holiday programs for infants and young children. She spent many summers on staff at Camp Young Judaea Midwest in Wisconsin, and previously worked in education and community engagement at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C.

As BJ’s first Assistant Director of Education for Early Childhood, Allison supervises our current programs and staff for families with young children, including Bim Bam, PJ Library and Children’s Services. Allison has enjoyed getting to know many of BJ’s young families, and looks forward to meeting more as she continues to settle into her new role.