Loading

Early Childhood, Beit Sefer, & Youth Beth Emet The Free Synagogue

Early Childhood

Beth Emet’s Early Childhood Program for young children age 12 months to five years old, engages children and families in a variety of Jewish experiences from classroom education to holiday celebrations. Our program cultivates children’s curiosity and love of learning, enriching all areas of their development.

In response to parent requests, we created Ivrit with Ronit, a fun afternoon Hebrew class for children ages four to six. Feedback has been very positive, and we’re planning to offer it again this fall.

This spring we re-designed our outdoor play space to encourage creativity, exploration, learning and fun. Children can use all their senses, and of course, their imagination, as they run, build, paint, dig, climb, plant, and more.

In preparation for changes made this spring to the playground, Early Childhood students said goodbye to their beloved monkey bars, watched with excitement the construction vehicles and changes taking place, and are enjoying their new nature-inspired play space.

Beit Sefer בֵּית סֵפֶר

Beth Emet’s Beit Sefer programs engage children in preschool through sixth grade, to deepen their Jewish experiences and knowledge in order to strengthen faith in God, love of Torah, and identification with the Jewish people. Through experiential programming and classroom learning, we build meaningful relationships and Jewish involvement among families in our synagogue. By learning about and questioning Jewish beliefs and values, exploring our traditions and history, and confronting current world issues, children can discover answers for themselves and develop meaningful, rewarding lives that will continually renew, inspire and transform themselves and their community.

This year, Beit Sefer expanded its capacity to educate diverse learners; added chuggim  (activities) in grades three and four that included cooking, art, music, Israeli sports games, and writing; created a Dor L’Dor (generation to generation) moment in our worship and song sessions that brought Jews from the past through a door into Beit Sefer; and increased parent involvement and family programming through Beth Emet Families Connect.

Beit Sefer is all about creating deeper meaning in our present lives through engaging immersive moments.

This year, Beit Sefer expanded its capacity to educate diverse learners; added chuggim (activities) in grades three and four that included cooking, art, music, Israeli sports games, and writing; created a Dor L’Dor (generation to generation) moment in our worship and song sessions that brought Jews from the past through a door into Beit Sefer; and increased parent involvement and family programming through Beth Emet Families Connect.

Dor L’Dor (generation to generation) moment in our worship and song sessions that brought Jethro from the past through a door into Beit Sefer.
Sixth graders created fall holiday arts projects.

Background image: Third graders drew depictions of Ki Anu Amecah "We are your people, for you are our God."

Left: The annual sixth grade Tzedakah Fair showcases nonprofit and service organizations. Sixth grade students select a cause and organization, conduct research, and create a presentation to inform fellow Beit Sefer children to donate to different causes. Parents of our kindergarten and new first and second graders shared the story behind the Hebrew names of their children at our Consecration and Naming Ceremony in March.

Our third graders conclude their final siyyum with a song about how the year passes but the tunes and warm feelings remain.

Youth נוער

Through both formal classes and informal youth group events for fourth through twelfth graders, our Youth Programs inspire authentic engagement with Judaism and Jewish practice; build the skills for leadership and social change; and to provide a safe and responsive program that meets students where they are in their lives and helps them to grow as Jews and thoughtful people.

This year, our Youth Programs focused on building the skills and tools for advocacy and action. Through a variety of courses and events, students reflected on our current society and envisioned a future more closely aligned with our Jewish values of compassion and justice.

From spending time with gun violence prevention activist David Hogg in the Perlman Room, to watching some of our amazing BESSY Board members take responsibility for planning and running our Garinim events, it was an incredible year in our Youth Programs.

Our ninth and tenth grade Chavayah class explored the theme civic engagement. They learned different tactics and skills to make their voices heard to our elected officials. Teens had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to lobby for criminal justice reform, host our second annual Interfaith Immigration Advocacy Day, and deepen our connections within the broader community and further committing to making the Chicago-area safe and welcoming to all.

Beth Emet teens BESSY members Jordan Selch, Ben Robke, and Benicio Caro in Washington, DC before their lobbying visits with Sen, Duckworth, Sen. Durbin, and Rep. Schakowsky to advocate for criminal justice reform with the Religious Action Center.
BESSY teens visit with Parkland survivor and visiting speaker, David Hogg.

Kabbalat Torah (12th Grade Confirmation Class) 2019

The capstone of learning at Beth Emet is Kabbalat Torah (or KT) class, that meet a few times a month at Rabbi London's home. Together, they grapple with ways to think about God and Jewish teachings, attitudes about society, learn about different kinds of Judaism while visiting historic sites in New York City, and much more. As they embark on the journey to adulthood, they leave Beth Emet with memories and teachings that will stay with them for a lifetime. Here a few of their words:

One of the highlights of my high school experience at Beth Emet was the immersion trip to El Paso and Mexico. The trip allowed us to live some of the values we were introduced to earlier like welcoming the stranger and feeding the poor. - Ilan Elenbogen-Siegel
As I figured out at the second or third KT meeting, God, surprise surprise, is not an old man with a beard sitting on the clouds, but, perhaps, the connection between all humans; the unity of all beings, organisms and things. When Rabbi offered up this nugget, this alternative definition of God, I was like,'whaaaat?!' - Elle Kanter
The Torah is not a fictional component of Judaism that I indirectly relate to through my religion, but rather a resource I can seek out to in pursuit of staying true to my Jewish values. - Maxime Visa
Over the years I've realized that song leading has become a big part of Jewish identity and I find joy in teaching children Jewish songs from my childhood. In the end its one big circle which is why I love Beth Emet. - Gracie Styler
No sentence has had more of an impact on me than this one from My Grandfather’s Blessings by Rachel Naomi Remen: “After all these years I have begun to wonder if the secret of living well is not in having all the answers but in pursuing unanswerable questions in good company.” - Leah Hurwitz
One thing that is instilled through our faith is a sense of compassion for others. Without having a compassion for others an unjust and equitable world is created. - Isabella Allen

-

One of the highlights of our Youth Programs was our Interfaith Social Justice Spring Break trip with teens from Second Baptist Church and Grace Lutheran Church. The five day experience gave participants an understanding of the histories of our different faiths. They also learned ways in which power operates throughout our institutions and culture to allocate privilege and oppress communities based on identities such as race, class, gender, nationality, and more.

Top: Beth Emet teens Jordan Selch, Ben Robke, Maddy Foler, and Sophia Posner leading Havdalah for teens from Second Baptist Church and Grace Lutheran Church during our Interfaith Social Justice Spring Break trip. Bottom: Group photo at the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago.
Sixth graders having a blast at our first Chasamba (grades six through eight) event of the year – pumpkin picking and a hay ride at Kroll’s Orchard! (Background image) BESSY Board Members Ben Robke, Abby Diamond, and Chloe Cohn play games with Garinim students in the Perlman Room.
Fourth and fifth graders lighting the menorah at our Garinim (grades four and five) Chanukah party.

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a copyright violation, please follow the DMCA section in the Terms of Use.