Family Life and Learning
Engaging and Supporting 21st-Century Jewish Families
For BJ to meaningfully support the unfolding of Jewish family life in the 21st century, we must acknowledge the multiple identities and diverse configurations of today’s families, foster a strong sense of community for our families, create opportunities for families and children to learn how and why to make Judaism an essential part of their lives, and offer a variety of key touch points for families throughout their children’s lives, from birth through college. Recognizing the many time demands of Manhattan families, we also know that, as a synagogue, we offer something unique: a multigenerational community that nurtures a child’s sense of place in a chain of tradition and of responsibility for that tradition and the community.
BJ must incubate and test new ideas to offer groundbreaking alternatives for families. We cannot rely on the obvious and tired practices of the past. We must be bold in our thinking and offerings to engage families in today’s individualistic world, providing meaning and support to help families break through the noise of competing priorities. We seek to position BJ as a center of innovation in family engagement, from birth through college.
Lifelong Learning Begins at Birth
Our Family Life and Learning programs provide creative ways for families to explore Judaism at each stage of their child(ren)’s development, enriching both at-home and in-synagogue Jewish experiences. Children may start with Bim Bam (a pre-Shabbat music class for babies and toddlers), Tot Shabbat services and dinners, Young Families retreats, weekly Shabbat services for families with young children, then move on to Kadima@BJ (Formerly referred to as Hebrew School), and reach for Shabbat Family retreat. Our newly expanded family electives grow the opportunity for family engagement, and focus on the importance of fostering a strong sense of community among our families. This can include participation in our Kulanu (Formerly Junior Congregation) Service , 7th grade trip to Washington D.C., and/or the B’nai Mitzvah journey. For teens, we offer domestic and international service volunteer trips, service as Ozrim (teachers’ aides) in Kadima@BJ, a teen retreat, and more. By the time our youth are grown they are truly prepared to fully participate in regular Shabbat services and to transition into rich and meaningful lives as Jewish adults and global citizens.
“It means so much to me that my children are so connected to Judaism and BJ…you do so much to make that goal a reality!”
Upcoming Family Life and Learning Programming
Fridays, June 8-August 10 | 10:15-11:00AM, 11:15AM-12:00 noon | BJ Chapel
Bim Bam gives children under 3 a fun space to explore Shabbat through interactive songs and stories, while learning traditions such as lighting candles, saying Kiddush, and giving tzedakah. The 10:15AM session features both English and Hebrew songs, while the 11:15AM class is full Hebrew immersion. The series (nine classes) is $180/$270 (members/non-members). After the first registered child, each additional child receives 50% off. New BJ members attend for free. The program is led by Shira Averbuch. Questions? Email Allison Kapusta. No class on July 6.
Friday, September 21-Sunday, September 23 | Hands In 4 Youth, 256 Macopin Road, West Milford, NJ
Looking to unwind and enjoy being with your friends during the High Holy Days? Join us for a meaningful Shabbat away from the city. Throughout the weekend, teens will connect with friends old and new while enhancing their connection to the BJ community. Participate in team-building and leadership development, along with plenty of other activities, including a low ropes course and cookout by the bonfire! Teens will not have to worry about missing school; we will leave after school lets out on Friday.
Friday, September 21-Sunday, September 23 | Hands In 4 Youth, 256 Macopin Rd, West Milford, NJ
Looking to unwind and enjoy being with your friends during the High Holy Days? Join us for this relaxing and meaningful getaway. Throughout the weekend, teens will connect with friends—old and new—while enhancing their connection to the BJ community. Teens will engage in Shabbat in an intentional and joyful way through team-building, leadership development, and plenty of fun activities, including a ropes course! Transportation will be provided. All meals are included.
- Early Bird (register by August 31): $275
- General: $315
We encourage those of you who are able to do so to make a donation in order to ensure that all BJ teens can participate in this event. Please contact Aniko (ex. 242) with any questions!
Fridays, September 21-December 14 | 10:15-11:00AM, 11:15AM-12:00PM | BJ Chapel
Bim Bam gives children under three a fun space to explore Shabbat through interactive songs and stories while learning traditions such as lighting candles, saying Kiddush, and giving tzedakah. The 10:15AM session features both English and Hebrew songs, while the 11:15AM session is full Hebrew immersion. The series (12 classes) is $240/members and $360/non-members. After the first registered child, each additional child receives 50% off. New BJ members may attend for free. The program is led by Shira Averbuch. Questions? Contact Danielle Freedman (x260). No class on November 23. Read more »
Sundays (Monthly*), September 30, 2018-April 28, 2019 | 5:00-7:00PM | Location TBD
Rosh Hodesh (Sisterhood) and Shevet (Brotherhood), are small, single-gender, single-grade groups, led by Moving Traditions-trained adult mentors. Find your own Jewish community in a safe, relaxed space filled with activities, discussion, exploration, and fun. Our research-based and field-tested curriculum applies Jewish wisdom and values to supporting teens in the issues they care about most, such as relationships, gender roles, healthy sexuality, social media, pressure, and stress.
Dates: September 30, November 4, December 2, January 6, February 3, April 7, April 28
Friday, October 5 | 5:30-7:00PM | BJ Sanctuary and Frankel Hall
Families enjoy a kid-friendly Kabbalat Shabbat service filled with singing and dancing, followed by a dinner complete with Shabbat blessings and songs. While adults are finishing their meal, children engage in play and exploration. Register by Wednesday, October 3, and contact Danielle Freedman with any questions. The cost is $22 for members / $29 for non-members. All children eat for free. Read more »
Friday, October 12 | Following Kabbalat Shabbat Services | BJ Chapel
The holidays are over, but the year is just beginning! Join us for a “welcome home” Shabbat dinner as we say goodbye to summer and the holiday season, and get ready for the amazing year ahead. We hope you will join us and bring a friend. Families of all ages welcome. Register by Monday, October 8.
Sunday, October 14 | 10:30AM-12:30PM | Location Given Upon Registration
BJ members with children in 2nd grade and younger are invited to reconnect with BJ friends and meet new people at Rabbi Felicia Sol’s home. Enjoy snacks and schmoozing while children engage in games and play.
Friday, November 9 | Dinner Following Kabbalat Shabbat Services | BJ Chapel
Experience the magic of Jewish summer camp. Join us for BJ Shabbat services and a dinner brimming with kavannot given by past and present campers of all ages! Make sure to sport your favorite camp t-shirt; the dinner will be filled with “camp-style” shirah. A special, but not exclusive, invitation goes out to our Kitah Bet families! Register by Monday, November 5.
Friday, December 14 | Following Kabbalat Shabbat Services | BJ Chapel
A Hanukkah-themed breakfast for dinner can’t be beat, so join us for PJ Shabbat! Children will enjoy music, games, and a bedtime story. Come in your coolest, goofiest, or favorite PJs. A special invitation goes out to our Kitah Gan families; email Ayala for your personal, free registration link. Register by Monday, December 10.
Friday, January 11, 2019 | Following Kabbalat Shabbat Services | BJ Chapel
This month’s family Shabbat dinner will be Tu Bishvat themed! Join us for great food, better company, and fun games for children and adults alike as we prepare to celebrate the Jewish birthday of the trees. A special invitation goes out to our Kitah Aleph families; email Ayala for your personal, free registration link. Register by Monday, January 7.
Friday, February 8-Sunday, February 10, 2019 | Washington, D.C.
This 7th grade trip focuses on our Jewish past, present, and future. Through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, intensive reflection, a Shabbat experience, the Newseum, and more, we will explore what it means to live a full Jewish life in light of our modern history and current events. This formative trip also serves as a community-building experience for our B’nai Mitzvah class.
If you are enrolled in Kadima@BJ, please select the prepaid option when registering. All 7th graders are invited to join us for this experience—the cost for those who have not prepaid is $450.
Friday, February 8, 2019 | Following Kabbalat Shabbat Services | BJ Chapel
Join us as we celebrate Jewish communities from all around the world! We will explore different customs, cuisines, and traditions over Shabbat dinner. Do you have a special family tradition? Share it here! A special invitation goes out to our Kitah Gimmel and Dalet families; email Ayala for your personal, free registration link. Register by Monday, February 4th.
Friday, March 8, 2019 | Following Kabbalat Shabbat Services | BJ Chapel
Join the Family Life and Learning team for a joyful Shabbat dinner. As we exit winter, this dinner will celebrate the wonderful ways in which the seasons heighten our different senses. A special invitation goes out to our Kitah Hey families; email Ayala for your personal, free registration link. Register by Monday, March 4.
Friday, April 12, 2019 | Following Kabbalat Shabbat Services | BJ Chapel
We hope you and your family will join us for our April Family Shabbat dinner! Our Israeli-themed dinner will celebrate Israeli culture, Shinshinim will introduce our students to new and fun Israeli games, and we will enjoy the delicious cuisine. A special invitation goes out to our Kitah Vav families; email Ayala for your personal, free registration link. Register by Monday, April 8.
Friday, May 3-Sunday, May 5, 2019 | Camp Ramah Nyack, Christian Herald Rd, Nyack, NY
Join your fellow 6th graders at our weekend-long B’nai Mitzvah Retreat! Students will participate in exciting programs that bring them closer to becoming B’nai Mitzvah while building community with each other. Transportation will be provided, as well as snacks on Friday afternoon through breakfast on Sunday.
Friday, May 10, 2019 | Following Kabbalat Shabbat | BJ Chapel
Join us for a special Shabbat Dinner honoring our 7th grade students, officially welcoming them into the BJ Teen Program. Everyone is encouraged to join us beforehand for Kabbalat Shabbat at 6:30PM in the Sanctuary, where our Kitah Zayin students will share reflections from their year with the community. A special invitation goes out to our Kitah Zayin families; email Ayala for your personal, free registration link. Register by Monday, May 6.
Friday, October 26-Sunday, October 28, 2019 | Isabella Friedman Retreat Center
Accepting Applications: July 12-September 15
Applications to work as an ozer or ozeret (assistant teacher) in Kadima@BJ and/or for our monthly youth group programming are now open for all members in 8th-12th grade! Ozrim will assist Kadima@BJ teachers and Youth Group staff by supporting them, engaging with students, enhancing the classroom atmosphere at Kadima@BJ and the event atmosphere at youth group programs!
Kadima@BJ begins on Tuesday, October 9 or Thursday, October 11.
There will be a mandatory Ozrim orientation session on Sunday, September 16, from 10:00AM-5:00PM at Camp Ramah Nyack. Meals will be provided.