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
Tuesday, March 26 | 4:00-4:45PM | Community House
Kadima@BJ is excited to continue our Hebrew immersion class geared towards children ages 2-5. Shira Averbuch will lead children and their parents/caregivers in music, stories, and movement. Children will gain a sense of community rooted in Jewish tradition while being exposed to Israeli culture, Hebrew language, and holiday customs. The cost for the semester is $200 for members and $300 for non-members. Both members and non-members may receive a sibling discount ($50 off). Contact Adina for more information.
This class meets every Tuesday from January 8-May 21
Friday, March 29 | 10:15-11:00AM, 11:15AM-12:00PM | Chapel
Classes are held every Friday through May 17.
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 10:15 AM session features both English and Hebrew songs, while the 11:15 AM 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 Adina (x248).
Wednesday, April 3 | 6:00-7:15PM | Community House Room 411
Want a chance to learn, study, and discuss some of the most intriguing issues facing Jewish teens today? Join us as we explore R-rated Talmud, the complexities of Israel, civil rights, poverty, and race within Judaism. Sessions will be facilitated by Aniko Gomory, Ayala Wasser, Rabbi Felicia Sol, Moshe Samuels, and outside facilitators. Read more »
Friday, April 5 | 5:15-7:30PM | Sanctuary and Frankel Hall
Families enjoy a kid-friendly Kabbalat Shabbat service filled with singing and dancing, led by Rabbi Erin Glazer, Shira Averbuch, and Michael Witman. Stay and join us for a dinner complete with Shabbat blessings and songs. While adults are finishing their meal, children engage in play and exploration. Register by Thursday, April 4, and contact Adina with any questions.
Prior to the deadline, the cost is $22 for members/$29 for non-members ($29 for members/$34 for non-members after April 4 at 10:00AM). All children eat for free.
Sunday, April 7 | 5:00-7:00PM | Community House 4th Floor
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, April 12 | Following Kabbalat Shabbat services | Middle Room and 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.
Wondering what to do on a cold Shabbat afternoon? Join us for a casual pick-up basketball game. No need to be a pro—all skill levels are welcome. Bring yourself, sneakers, and your A-game.
3:00-3:45PM: Kindergarten-3rd Grade
3:45-5:00PM: Aviv (20s/30s)
5:00-6:15PM: 4th Grade and Up
Sunday, April 14 | 11:00AM-12:30PM | Chapel
5th grade families are invited to join us in the next step of the B’nai Mitzvah journey. Come explore the idea of mitzvot, and think more about the meaning behind the ritual of B’nai Mitzvot, while spending time with other 5th grade families. Breakfast will be served.
Please contact Adina with any questions.
Please join Rabbi Erin Glazer, Hazzan Ari Priven, Mike Witman, Ayala Wasser, and Shira Averbach for a fun and energizing Shabbat weekend filled with outdoor games, music, hiking, learning opportunities, community building, a campfire, and more. This retreat is geared toward BJ families with children in second grade and below. Register by April 15.
Friday, May 3-Sunday, May 5 | 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 | Following Kabbalat Shabbat services | 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, June 7 | 5:15-7:30PM | Sanctuary and Frankel Hall
Families enjoy a kid-friendly Kabbalat Shabbat service filled with singing and dancing, led by Rabbi Erin Glazer, Shira Averbuch, and Michael Witman. Stay and join us for a dinner complete with Shabbat blessings and songs. While adults are finishing their meal, children engage in play and exploration. Register by Thursday, June 6, and contact Adina with any questions.
Prior to the deadline, the cost is $22 for members/$29 for non-members ($29 for members/$34 for non-members after June 6 at 10:00AM). All children eat for free.