– Affordable, spirited, high quality Jewish education
Your children are the changing face of the Jewish community of the Lower East Side. Once mostly Orthodox immigrants with strong linguistic and cultural ties to Eastern Europe, the Jews of the Lower East Side are now primarily secular New Yorkers. For the second year, the Manny Cantor Center, in collaboration with the School for Creative Judaism, is offering an environment for Jewish education for kids that will attempt to connect them to their Jewish heritage, identity and history through a lens that reflects the values and character of the young Jewish families of the neighborhood. We hope to create a vibrant community that will enable kids to explore their cultural and spiritual identities, and understand that they are the living history of our people.
Classes meet Mondays 4:00-5:15 during the school year at the Manny Cantor Center. This year we will be offering classes for grades K-4, and as we grow we will lead them on the path toward Bat and Bar Mitzvah, and beyond. Working in small groups with experienced Jewish educators/artists, the program will be designed to give the kids Hebrew reading skills, knowledge of prayers and Jewish concepts, as well as a sense of the unique place they occupy in the history of our people. Curriculum will mirror the artistic, socio-politically-invested and multi-cultural nature of the neighborhood, and incorporate games, the arts and field trips. We will attempt to reach the spiritual and religious sides of Judaism through the cultural sides of the faith. For example we are planning a unit on Jewish food, in which the kids will learn about holidays, the bible and other historical events through cooking.
A major component of the program will be devoted to getting to know the neighborhood and its history. We will visit places like the Bialystocker Synagogue, and learn both about the way many Jews lived and practiced one hundred years ago, and about the role they played in helping the struggle of African Americans to escape slavery (the synagogue has a secret door which was used during the Underground Railroad). We will visit Stiebls on East Broadway that used to house several families, and Buddhist shrines, where we will talk about the differences and similarities between Buddhist and Jewish practice.
Kids will learn stories from the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings and discuss questions of ethics and morality that arise in them. The School will be a place where kids will come to ponder the great questions in life. Through encountering ideas from some of the greatest Jewish thinkers in history, we hope to give the kids not only a chance to explore the meaning and purpose of life, but also a sense of how Judaism progressed from biblical times to their own. Kids will play with the ideas of Spinoza – God is everything, Arendt – Freedom is action, Heschel – in Selma I was praying with my feet, and more. Social justice teachings will play a major role, and the faith’s underlying message of love, fairness and the pursuit of truth – so similar to the teachings of other faiths – will be emphasized, explored and grappled with. The kids will forge ongoing relationships with Seniors in the community, and partner with social justice and organic farming organizations in the neighborhood on an ongoing basis.
Using innovative and physically active teaching techniques developed by the School for Creative Judaism over the past decade, your kids will enjoy coming to Hebrew school. If they are not having fun that’s when we know something isn’t right.
While we have a lot to bring to the table, we view this as an offering for and with the community. Therefore we very much look forward to hearing your thoughts on curriculum, points of emphasis, and any other ideas that will make the School everything we want it to be.
We are doing everything we can to keep costs low. However, we will also do our best to accommodate special requests from families for whom the pricing makes participation prohibitive.
Please contact us with any questions using the “Get in Touch” box on the left, or write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org