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, May 21 | 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.
Tuesday, May 21 | 4:45PM | Sanctuary
We are excited to announce our annual end-of-year Zimriyah, featuring our Kadima@BJ students. Each of our Kadima@BJ classes will participate in a song competition, after which we will enjoy a school-wide celebration. We invite all to take part in our end-of-year festivities, no registration required.
Fridays, Beginning June 7 | 10:15-11:00AM, 11:15AM-12:00PM | Community House
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. Led by Shira Averbuch, the 10:15 AM session features both English and Hebrew songs, while the 11:15 AM session is full Hebrew immersion.
The series (6 classes) is $120/members and $180/non-members. After the first registered child, each additional child receives 50% off. New BJ members may attend for free by contacting Adina (x248).
Upcoming Sessions: June 7, 14, 21, 28; July 5, 12
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.