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FAQ for Religious School

What ages participate in Religious School?

Our youngest students are 3 years old, and our school runs through 7th grade. Students in grades 8-12 are invited to work as madrichim (assistants) in the lower grade classes while pursuing their own Jewish education in one of the several wonderful Jewish teen programs we partner with.

Where Is it located?

                      Please note: autumn 2020 will be virtual.

As we don’t own a building, when we meet in-person, we rent from different spaces.

Our Sunday program (all classes) meets at:
Jewish Community Day School (JCDS),
57 Stanley Ave
Watertown MA 02472

Our Tuesday program (grades 3–6 only) meets at:
First Unitarian Universalist Society in Newton (FUUSN)
1326 Washington St.
West Newton, MA 02465

On Shabbat (Friday night/Saturday) our programs are located in the church that hosts our sanctuary space. It’s just up the the street from FUUSN.

Second Church
60 Highland St.
West Newton, MA 02459

When does Religious School meet?

Our Sunday program meets from 9:30am–noon. Grades 1-7 meet weekly, while our Pre-K/Kindergarten class meets once a month.
Our Tuesday program (Grades 3–6 only) meets from 3:45–5:45pm weekly.

What do parents do during the Religious School times?

On Sunday, from 9:30-10:00am, parents and children participate together in z’man rishon, our opening assembly. When the students go to class, parents are invited to the parent “cafe” for coffee and shmoozing. Each Sunday morning there is at least one parent learning option- some of them are for specific grade level cohorts, others are open to any parents or the whole Dorshei community. Some parents hang out around the building chatting, doing their own work. Other parents leave the building during classtime. Overall, the presence and participation of parents on Sunday mornings strengthens our community. See the parent learning schedule in the school calendar for more information.

What is the cost to participate in Religious School?

The following is the tuition scale for the 2020-2021 school year. Please note that we are committed to the Jewish education of all our children. The tuition rates should not be a barrier. If tuition costs present a problem for you, you are encouraged to contact our treasurer, Ezra Hausman, our executive director, Melissa Colten, or Rabbi Toba Spitzer or 617-965-0330, to discuss alternative financial arrangements.

Grade Tuition (Members) Tuition (Non-Members)
Nitzanim (Pre-K) and Gan (Kindergarten) $410 $530
Alef and Bet (Grades 1 and 2) $600 $775
Gimmel (Grade 3) $1,000 $1,205
Dalet, Hay, Vav (Grades 4, 5, 6) $1,000 Membership Required
Zayin (Grade 7) $700 Membership Required

Non-member option: We invite families to participate in Nitzanim (Pre-K), Gan (Kindergarten), or Grades 1, 2, or, 3 for one year as non-members. After that, to continue in our school, membership is required. All families with children enrolled in Grades 4 and above are required to be members of Dorshei Tzedek. Learn about becoming a member.

Do you have to be a member to participate?

See above, “Non-Member Option.”

What are the core principles/values my children will learn?

Dorshei Tzedek’s Core Values guide our community as a whole as well as our school in particular. Below you will find just one example of how these values come to life through our program.

  • קְהִלָּה Kehillah (Commitment to Community): Each Sunday morning, the whole community- students and parents- begin together in z’man rishon. This time together facilitates intergenerational connection through learning, prayer and creative activities.
  • חֶסֶד Chesed (Lovingkindness): The 2nd grade class studies different Jewish values over the course of the year. They take field trips to visit elders in an old age home and help out at Jewish family Table.
  • Inclusion and Human Dignity: We have an inclusion coordinator as part of our staff who works with families individually to understand the specific learning needs of each child. She develops a plan and works with the teachers so that each student can be successful.
  • כַּוָֹנָה Kavanah (Sacred Intention): Each of the teachers model their kavannah as they choose to spend time teaching and modelling for their students what it means to live an engaged Jewish life.
  • Lifelong Jewish Learning: While students are in classes on Sunday morning, we hold at least one program for adults each Sunday morning. When children see their parents engaged in Jewish learning, they understand that this is a lifelong process.
  • מַחֲלוֹקֶת לְֹשֶם שָמַיִם Machloket l’shem shamayim (Debate for the Sake of Heaven): One of the key skills developed through havruta pedagogy used at various points in the 3rd-6th grade Torah curricula is the balance of supporting and challenging when working with a learning partner.
  • מִצְוָה Mitzvah (Ethical & Ritual Practice): As the 7th grade studies the mourner’s kaddish, they learn that once they become bar or bat mitzvah, they are eligible to count towards a minyan to support someone in mourning by saying the kaddish prayer.
  • Spirituality: As part of their “mini-minyan” that kicks off the nitzanim program for 3 & 4 year olds, our youngest students practice stepping into a special space where they can talk directly to God.
  • תִקוּן עוֹלָם Tikkun Olam (Repair of the World): Each class collects tzedakah each week and chooses together how to allocate their money towards a cause that is meaningful to them and their learning.

Who are the teachers?

Our teaching staff shifts year to year, but each year we look for adults who love living a Jewish life and are committed to sharing and exploring Judaism with children. You can find staff bios of this year’s teachers here.

What are the times that the religious school connects with the broader CDT community?

There are several ways that the religious school connects with the broader CDT community:
Shabbat and Holidays All students in the school are expected to participate in services during the year. The All Ages Erev Shabbat, Got Shabbat programs and holiday activities are specifically kid-friendly, and they are a great way to hang out with students in other grades, or with children who go to Jewish Day School, who aren’t enrolled in our program. Students in grades 4-6 lead a service for the community at the end of the year.
Classroom Visitors: Adult members of the community are often invited to share their skills or perspectives in various classes. For example, when the kita bet (2nd grade) class was studying honoring elders, a CDT member of the Wise Aging group came to speak to the class. Kita gimel (3rd grade) helped in the CDT garden, an activity led by members involved in the garden.
Adult learning on Sunday mornings: Adult learning programs open to the whole community are held on Sunday mornings, so adults in the community may join us at JCDS. They are invited to participate in z’man rishon and parent cafe as well.
Participation in Tikkun Olam activities: This has varied over the years, but the school has consistently participated in the Mother’s Day Walk for Peace as part of the Dorshei contingent.

What is the typical class size?

Our classes currently have 6-10 students.

What is the background of experience of families coming into CDT?

Each family at Dorshei is different. No matter how you got here, we are excited to figure out together how to create meaningful Jewish lives. Parents’ Jewish experience varies - some people grew up in the Reconstructionist movement, while others’ Jewish backgrounds run the spectrum of Jewish life in America from Secular humanist to Orthodox. Some parents chose Judaism for themselves as adults, and others are not Jewish at all, but support the Jewish education of their children. There is a range of family structures, with parents and caregivers in various arrangements and gender configurations. Some of the children are born to the parents, others are adopted. Most of our members are of white, Ashkenazi descent, but we also have multiracial families and families from Jewish communities in other parts of the world. This diversity enhances our learning, and we look forward to welcoming your family too.

How can I find an outline of the curriculum for my child?

The curriculum outline can be found on p. 4 of the parent handbook.

Who directs the religious school?

Earnest Vener is Dorshei Tzedek’s Driector for Congregational Learning. He directs the religious school as well as being involved in other aspects of adult and community education.

What are the opportunities and expectations of parents?

Parents are a crucial part of our school community and our students’ experience! To make the most of what we offer, parents should:

  • Read the Friday parent e-newsletter that highlights upcoming events and important information.
  • Read emails from your children’s teachers! These emails often contain descriptions of class activities and suggestions for how to follow up at home with your child. Any further engagement with the material, especially the assigned Hebrew and prayer practice in the older grades, helps enforce the learning.
  • Note service attendance requirements for your child’s grade (applicable to grades 4-7).
  • Communicate with the teachers and inclusion coordinator about any specific needs or challenges facing your child.
  • Participate in Sunday morning family and adult learning programs offered for your child’s cohort.
  • Explore the awesome and varied adult learning programs offered also on Sunday mornings while your child is in class.
Sun, January 24 2021 11 Shevat 5781