This coming year I will be working with our educators to further expand the things that make J-JEP an incredible program to be part of. As always, we want to help the students make it personal.
We want the students not simply to gain knowledge but understand how this information is relevant to their lives, how it gives them guidance and fortitude, a little grit, and spiritual uplift.
We want the students to understand how they can use their Judaism in their lives, and how what we learn in J-JEP helps them make the world a better place and themselves better people.
We started unpacking the prayers to understand how we can use them to address the things happening in our lives today. That was always, of course, the purpose of prayer, but it's a lost art. We're bringing it back.
We started last year with a couple of opportunities for parents to gather and discuss what and why their children are studying on an adult level. More of that to come.
This and more is coming for the new school year.
As always, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email or call.
Rabbi Larry Freedman
email@example.com | 412-621-6566 ext. 116
Perhaps you've heard the phrases keva | קֶבַע and kavanah | כַּוָּנָה:
Keva means fixed, routine. This is the part of Hebrew learning where we want the students to know how to read the prayers, a general sense of what they mean, and how to lead from the bima. Straightforward, classic. Goal driven.
Kavanah means intentionality, purposeful. This is the part of Hebrew prayer learning where they understand the deeper meaning of a prayer and how students can tap into the theme of it so they can engage those themes for themselves. Kavanah is about finding the purpose and usefulness of a prayer.
Rote recitation is important - A Jew should feel comfortable in any synagogue anywhere in world.
Personal, soul touching expression of prayer is important - A Jew should feel able to connect with something larger and be able to use the prayers for personal uplift.
Over the summer Rabbi Freedman is studying with experts to further help our students develop both of those skills.
We are continuing to offer three Hebrew programs to our students beginning in 3rd grade:
Both Rodef Shalom and Beth Shalom have the expectation that for students planning to become B'nai Mitzvah, they should be enrolled in one or more of our Hebrew programs beginning in 3rd grade. Please visit JJEP.org/programs to learn about the three programs we have to choose from.
We encourage all our 8th graders to try our program - through September - with their friends to see if it's something they enjoy and would like to continue with. No strings attached. When you register, we will not bill for the 8th grade program unless your child has decided to stick with it after September.
Israel: Learn about Israel with more honesty and nuance: Why there is there a State of Israel in the first place? What are the roots of anti-Semitism? How can we criticize Israel fairly? How can we respond to criticism that doesn't seem fair?
Holidays: Take a deeper dive into holidays with more sophisticated understanding.
Learn to Teach: Introduction to classroom teaching techniques to prepare you to be one of our madrichim. Towards the end of the year we will get you in front of a class to try out your new skills!
Tzedakah: Have an impact on our community by determining the recipients of our tzedakah money & present your choices to our younger students.
You decide: We've built space into our 8th grade course to dive into topics that the students want to explore.
Join Rabbi Freedman once a month over lunch to delve into a Jewish topic in a relaxed atmosphere:
Can you say kaddish for a dog?
What's the real story about tattoos and piercings?
Do we really stone a defiant child like the Torah says?
And we'll investigate Jewish values in the news beyond the headlines, such as a Jewish understanding of abortion, and engaging the reason the State of Israel exists as well as a deeper look at the issues there today.
This program is for anyone in high school (J-JEP affiliated or not) who self-identifies as Jewish. Bring your friends!
Try it out! When you register, we will not bill for the program unless your student has decided to stick with it after attending the first two sessions in September and October.
Never miss an important date!
Questions about J-JEP's schedule? Want to check if there's class or not?
Our calendar is now available online via our website at JJEP.org/calendar where you can download our paper calendar or add our Google calendar to yours.
Our ongoing commitment to keeping our students safe
Through the generous support of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, J-JEP has been participating as part of a cohort of Jewish youth-serving organizations from the Pittsburgh area in the Aleinu: Safeguarding Our Children campaign from Sacred Spaces. We are working on adopting and implementing Best Practices in addition to the policies we already have in place to safeguard the children in our care. If you're interested in learning more about our work with Aleinu or are interested in participating as part of our Child Safety Committee, please contact Rabbi Freedman.
Covid-19 & Vaccinations
As we did last school year, we will hold our classes in-person and continue to consult regularly with the doctors on Congregation Beth Shalom's Covid-19 Task Force and with Rodef Shalom Congregations Security Committee. Based on their guidance, we may make changes to how we operate throughout the school year, especially with regard to masking.
By the end of our last school year, all our students attending in-person were vaccinated for Covid-19. This allowed us to bring back our all-school tefillah service, invite parents and families back into our building for special programs, and to be mask-optional when our community level made it advisable to do so. We are extremely grateful to our J-JEP families for your commitment to keeping our community healthy. With this is mind, beginning with the 5783 | 2022-2023 school year, J-JEP will require all its students to be immunized according to the schedule recommended by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) as well as Pennsylvania's school immunization requirements. At this time, that means all students must be vaccinated for COVID-19 as well as receive a booster 5 months after their second dose. While we will not be collecting vaccination records, we will ask for an attestation of vaccination (or medical exemption) on our registration form.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding Covid-19 health and safety or vaccination, please contact Rabbi Freedman.