Religious School

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About the School
November 2011

Admission Requirements

Parents must be members in good standing of the Little Neck Jewish Center for their children to be enrolled in grades Aleph through Hay (public school grades 3-7). These grades meet twice a week.

Membership is encouraged, but not required for parents interested in enrolling their younger aged children in the Kindergarten and pre-Aleph classes. Kindergarten is offered once a week and pre-Aleph is offered twice a week for children in public school grades 1 and 2.

Any transfer after the 3rd grade of public school for entry into our Religious School will require special evaluation for proper placement. Report cards and/or a letter from the previous Religious School indicating academic standing of the student will be required prior to admission.

Expectations

Our time together is precious and limited. In order to maximize the use of our time, it is essential that we all understand what is expected of us. Students, teachers, parents, the Educational Director and the Religious School Board must be partners in the religious education of our students.

Religious School Students are encouraged to:

* take pride in their work.
* share experiences and viewpoints.
* behave with dignity.
* arrive at school on time, prepared for learning.
* use appropriate, respectful language with teachers and peers.
* show respect for people and property.

Teachers are encouraged to:

* help our students learn to enjoy learning.
* motivate and inspire our children to become independent learners.
* teach our students to be proud members of the Jewish community.
* serve as positive Jewish role models for our students.
* help foster strong interpersonal relationships between the students.
* lead stimulating discussions that allow students to express their ideas and varied viewpoints.
* treat each student with dignity and respect by providing a nurturing learning environment where students are free to take risks.

Parents are encouraged to:

* make sure children arrive on time at Religious School
* take an active role in the religious education of their children.
* ask questions about the curriculum and ways it can be extended at home.
* support and participate in Religious School activities.
* know and communicate with the child’s Religious School teachers.
* monitor the child’s progress in his or her Judaic studies.
* emphasize the importance of lifelong Jewish learning.
* demonstrate, by example, the importance of Religious School by ensuring that their children are in attendance, arrive on time, and are prepared to learn.

The Educational Director and the Religious School Board are encouraged to:

* develop an exciting, interesting, varied curriculum dedicated to establishing a strong foundation of Jewish knowledge, skills and experiences in the Conservative tradition and the unique needs of the Little Neck Jewish Center population. Continuously reevaluate the curriculum and make adjustments when necessary.
* create a supportive environment in which students are encouraged to explore their Jewish identity and respect that of others.
* provide the teachers with the guidance, assistance and resources necessary to execute the curriculum.
* monitor the progress and achievement of each student.
* elicit feedback, on a regular basis, from the students, parents, and staff of the Religious School and respond accordingly.

Educational Philosophy & Curriculum of the Religious School

The goal of the Religious School is to provide a strong foundation upon which our children can grow into mature and knowledgeable Jews. The Religious School of the Little Neck Jewish Center is designed to be an educational experience in which Jewish values and observances are taught in a manner that is consistent with the ethics, laws and religious beliefs of Conservative Judaism.

The program incorporates the following areas of study:

Hebrew

Basic Hebrew reading skills in the following areas:
* Brachot (blessings), including Birkat Hamazon (Grace after Meals),
* Friday evening service
* Shabbat morning service
* Special prayers for Shabbat and the Jewish holidays.

All students completing the Aleph grade and entering the Bet grade will demonstrate the ability to accurately sight-read individual Hebrew words from the Siddur or Bible with no previous preparation.

All Students completing the Dalet grade and before beginning Bar/Bat Mitzvah lessons, will demonstrate the ability to accurately sight- read full sentences taken from the Siddur or Bible with no previous preparation.

Parents of each student will receive letters certifying completion of each of these requirements, with a copy kept in the student’s school file.

Ethics and Values

This area of study helps our students to become aware of the needs of the Jewish and non-Jewish people living in our community and in the world. There will be a special emphasis put upon our connections with Israel.

* Religious School students will learn to accept responsibility for their actions.
* Students will be asked to apply mitzvot to their own lives.
* Students will be given the opportunity to accept responsibility for our environment.
* The continuation of Jewish education beyond the bar/bat mitzvah will be encouraged.

History

The study of Jewish history will help students understand and develop an interest in Jewish history from biblical times to the present. There will be an emphasis on the biblical history, American Jewish history, Holocaust studies, and the relationship of American and Israeli Jews.

* The basic principles of the main branches of Judaism will be studied and discussed.
* Jewish current events and their impact on the Jewish world will be discussed in the classroom.

Ritual

Rituals and customs associated with Jewish holidays and traditions will be explored by all students.

* The use of, and understanding of the Siddur during prayer service will be emphasized.
* Tanach (Bible)
* Religious School students will explore many of the sacred texts of Judaism.
* Synagogue Skills
* Students in each grade level will be provided, free of charge, a CD of specific brachot and tefilot that they will be expected to learn during that term. Lost CDs will be subject to a replacement fee.

Family Education

Parents are encouraged to become involved in their children’s Religious School education as they create more Jewish memories.

*A complete and detailed copy of the curriculum will be provided to each family via email.

School Procedures

Arrival

Classes will begin and end on time.

Kindergarten                                    Mondays  4:15pm to 6:15pm

Pre-Aleph, Aleph, Bet,                    Mondays and Wednesdays  4:15 pm to 6:15 pm
Gimel, Dalet

Hey                                                    Mondays and Wednesdays  7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Late arrival is discouraged as it interferes with the learning experience of your child and the others in his/her class. Children who arrive late must bring a note from the parent to the Religious School office and may need to make up missed class work. Tardiness will be noted on the child’s progress report. If there are special hardship circumstances, please speak to the school’s Principal.

Drop-off and Pickup

It is preferred that parents park their cars and personally escort the student(s) to the entrance. We are aware of the difficult parking situation, but, for safety reasons, we cannot allow students to run across the busy streets of our neighborhood to or from waiting cars. Drivers should “park” along side of the sidewalk adjacent to the synagogue to discharge a student.

Children must be dropped off at the school entrance on Anandale Ave. At dismissal, all children will await pick up in front of this same entrance. Dismissal will be supervised at all times and safety rules enforced.

Early Sign Out

In order to maximize the students’ educational experience, early dismissal is discouraged unless absolutely necessary. Should a child need to leave school prior to official dismissal time, the child must bring a note to the School Office. The parent or designated adult must come into the school office and sign the student out, writing the specific reason for early dismissal. It is a parent’s responsibility not to arrange for medical/dental appointments during Religious School hours.

No children will be allowed to wait outside the building for an early pick up. No child, under any circumstances, will be allowed to leave the school grounds unaccompanied while school is in session.

Inclement Weather/Emergency Cancellation

As a rule, if either the New York City Public Schools or the Great Neck Public Schools are closed, the Religious School will close. There will be a recorded message on the school telephone. When possible, an email will be sent to Religious School parents.

School Attendance

We expect our students to attend class on a regular basis. Daily attendance is vital for success in Religious School. For safety reasons, the Religious School office should be notified if your child will be absent.

Attendance in class plays an integral role in your child’s Religious School learning experience. There is a minimum 85% attendance required of all students. In addition to absences from Religious School, any combination of three (3) late arrivals and/or early dismissals will count as one (1) absence. Students will be expected to make up any work missed due to absences. Excessive absences may lead to additional assignments and could jeopardize the student’s ability to be promoted or graduated with his/her class.

Shabbat Service Attendance

It is vital to be familiar with the services as conducted at one’s home shul. As part of the curriculum, those students in Kitot Aleph through Gimel are expected to attend Shabbat services at the Little Neck Jewish Center a minimum of twelve (12) times during the Religious School year. Four (4) of the twelve (12) required services attended may be on Friday evenings, the balance must be on Saturday morning at either Junior Congregation or the in the Main Sanctuary. Students in Dalet and Hay grades are expected to attend 14 required services of which 4 services may be on Friday evenings. If accompanied by a parent in the Main Sanctuary they will receive an extra half a credit. This is an essential requirement for promotion and/or graduation from our Religious School. The High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) falling on Shabbat are not counted towards this requirement.

To facilitate this requirement, Junior Congregation Shabbat Services (each lasting approximately 1hour) will be available on twice a month during the academic year. Shabbat Junior Congregation will meet from 10:00 AM until 11:15 AM, at which time students will be invited into the Main Sanctuary for the completion of the Shabbat morning service and the Kiddush. A schedule of these Junior Congregation services will be mailed home. Children must identify themselves to the Junior Congregation Leader.  Parents are asked to email the Educational Director to inform her of a child’s attendance at Junior Congregation and/or Shabbat services.

Twelve (12) months prior to Bar/Bat Mitzvah, children must start to attend services in the Main Sanctuary to fulfill their Shabbat requirement. They are always welcome to attend Junior Congregation in addition to the requirement.

Shabbat service attendance requirements for the academic year may begin to be fulfilled starting July 1 assuming the previous year’s obligation has been met.

Failure to complete this requirement could jeopardize promotion, graduation or Bar/Bat Mitzvah training.

Dress Code

Students shall be neat and clean at all times. Boys are required to wear Kipot. No baseball caps or other hats are permitted.

On Shabbat, students should dress appropriately for religious services.

Cell Phones

No cellular telephones may be used during Religious School classes. Cell phones must be turned off and left in student’s backpacks or coat pockets. They MAY NOT be on their person.

There is a telephone in the School Office (718-224-0404) which should be used if a student needs to call home. It is for your child’s safety that we know who your child is communicating with while attending Religious School.

Books and Supplies

The student is required to bring to Religious School every day school is in session, the Siddur given to him/her during the Aleph year. In addition, other textbooks given to him/her are to be brought to class each day unless otherwise advised. If, in the Dalet year, students are given another Siddur, that Siddur becomes part of their daily texts. The student must pay for any lost texts or audiotapes/cds that need to be replaced. Students should also bring pens, pencils and notebooks as required by the teacher. If the student brings a snack, please be sure that it is a kosher snack. Please refrain from bringing any snacks containing nuts.

Homework

We recognize the burden of public school and outside activities. At the same time, it is necessary to assign a limited amount of homework in the Religious School. We request that parents encourage their children to spend the time needed to review their lessons. Some assignments require parent participation. These are meant to spark family discussions, to encourage transmission of family history from one generation to the next, reinforce the students’ learning and to enhance parents’ own home observance of Jewish practices.

Students who are frequently late or excessively absent may be asked to complete supplemental assignments to ensure they learn the material covered while they are not in the classroom.

Behavior

Students are expected to exhibit respectful behavior towards teachers, peers, staff, and school property at all times. Students are also expected to use their limited time in Religious School seriously and conscientiously. In our Religious School, every student has the right to learn. No student has the right to prevent a teacher from teaching or another student from learning. We believe that the LJNC Religious School students should demonstrate appropriate behavior at all times to ensure a classroom environment that promotes maximum learning opportunities for every student and encourages appropriate behavior. Please discuss this issue with your child(ren).

The Principal, teachers, Rabbi and School Board set the Religious School’s behavioral standards. If behavior problems arise, the student, parents, teacher, Rabbi and Principal will work together to resolve any challenges. Students who behave disrespectfully will be told of the specific inappropriate behavior and informed that the behavior is unacceptable. If the inappropriate behavior continues, the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s) will be notified. If necessary, student/parent/teacher conferences will take place. Students may be suspended or expelled or may need their parents to attend class with them, in accordance with the policies of the Religious School.

Tzedakah

Tzedakah, or righteous behavior, is an integral part of Jewish life. Students will be asked to contribute tzedakah money during each class session. We encourage the children to give of their own resources so that it is truly their contribution. Acts of loving kindness (Gemilut Chassadim) are highly encouraged both in the school community and in the outside community.

Kashrut

Kashrut means “fit” food. All snacks brought into the Religious School must be either pareve or dairy and properly marked with a kosher certification called a hechsher (e.g. OU or K), in keeping with Jewish dietary laws. No foods or snacks containing “meat” are permitted to be brought into the Religious School or Synagogue. We request that you refrain from sending any foods that contain any type of nuts as we have students with allergies.

Fire Drills

Emergency evacuation of the building is practiced throughout the school year. Fire extinguishers and evacuation instructions are available in each classroom.

Conferences

Open School Night is held each fall providing the opportunity to meet your child’s teacher and learn more about the Religious School. Private individualized conferences with the teacher or principal can be requested through the Religious School Office.

Teachers are available to speak with parents before or after class. The Principal has office hours on Monday, and Wednesday afternoons. The Religious School Office is equipped with a separate phone line and voice mail so that messages can be left at any time.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Considerations

The Little Neck Jewish Center Religious School works with the different committees of the LNJC to ensure students preparing for Bar/Bat Mitzvah will have the necessary education for that occasion. The requirements to celebrate a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the LNJC, however, are set by the Religious Committee of the LNJC, not by the Religious School, and must be met before the celebration takes place. The Religious Committee is also responsible for assigning Bar/Bat Mitzvah dates, and generally provides those dates to the families of students is in the middle of the Gimel year (public school equivalent is grade 5). Students must complete 5 years of religious training (Kitot Aleph though Hey) to be eligible for Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Those students who enter the LNJC Religious School after Kita Aleph (public school equivalent of grade 3) must provide adequate proof of Hebrew Education elsewhere and/or agree to private tutoring as deemed appropriate.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah candidates who will celebrate their Bar/Bat Mitzvah from September through December of the eighth grade will be required to attend five Shabbat services during the fall season. Those students celebrating their Bar/Bat Mitzvah during the seventh grade, from January through June must fulfill most of their Shabbat service attendance requirements one month prior to their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Bar/Bat Mitzvah lessons may be curtailed if the requirement is not satisfactorily met. It is recommended that Hey graduates whose Bar/Bat Mitzvahs are scheduled in the fall or winter following graduation from the Religious School enroll in a formal Jewish educational program in addition to the weekly Bar/Bat Mitzvah lessons.

FINAL COMMENTS

The importance of parents’ involvement in developing their child’s attitude toward the school and synagogue cannot be emphasized enough. The most enthusiastic students almost always are those whose parents participate in Jewish living and learning, who are involved in their own continuing Jewish education, and who bring Jewish observance into their homes.

The effectiveness of the school’s curriculum can be enhanced significantly if families reinforce Jewish learning at home. Children learn so much at school about Shabbat and the Jewish Festivals that family observance of these days becomes very meaningful – especially if it encompasses the simple Shabbat and Festival ceremonies and blessings.

Bring your children to the Junior Congregation services on Saturday mornings at the Little Neck Jewish Center or have them join you at our warm and welcoming adult services. Participate in the grade Shabbat dinner and class presentations run by the Religious School.

Read Books of Jewish Interest

The Religious School library, public library, the Internet, and local bookstores have a great selection of books of special interest to Jews. Supplement your child’s education and share the experience of reading books with Jewish content at home.

Discuss Current Events

Our children are full of questions about the world, Israel and its people. Parents can share their Jewish perspective on world events and history with their children and help make them better Jewish citizens.

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