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To Our Bet Sefer Parents:
As we look towards the fall, we would like nothing more than to see your kids at Bet Sefer every week. Given the realities of COVID-19, however, that will likely not be possible. We have therefore developed a program that is flexible, engaging, meets our students’ diverse needs, and fosters community. This is an experiment -- our best thinking to meet the challenges of this time. Read below for a detailed plan for what the next year will look like. If families like this model, we can continue it in various ways into the future. If they miss our previous program, we can return to it once we are able to meet regularly in person again. 

Why this is important
As COVID-19 disrupts so many parts of our lives, life feels uncertain and confusing for our kids. Racial injustice and anxiety about the upcoming presidential election also raise concerns. This year we are tailoring our curriculum to address the world around us. We will provide safe, creative opportunities for learning that are grounded in Jewish values. We’ll still teach Jewish holidays, spiritual practices, and Hebrew, but our concentration will be on creating a Jewish framework for learning with space to discuss Jewish ethics and difficult issues at this time. 

Individualized student plans with multiple opportunities for Jewish learning and experiences
Families will meet with a teacher to create a learning plan that meets the students’ needs. We also understand that parents' ability to be involved will vary from family to family, so we will tailor the plan to meet parents’ needs as well. It will be roughly the same amount of learning as our regular Bet Sefer program, but it will be more flexible. We’ll offer virtual learning, family field trips, social action and acts of kindness projects, at home holiday kits, independent learning, short community gatherings, and in-person classes if we can do them safely. We’ll keep our Hebrew tutoring program for kids in 3rd-6th grade, with an option for 2nd graders as well.

What this looks like in practice
It’s kind of like “choose your own adventure.” At the beginning of each semester, families will work with a teacher to make an overall plan. If your child can’t look at one more screen, you’ll choose activities that are in person or with books that we recommend, and you might add in a family field trip or two. If your child is eager to debate ethical issues in the time of a pandemic or Jewish approaches to activism, a Zoom class will be in order. It’s hard to keep track of things and stick to a plan, so we’ll give you a monthly chart so your child can record what they’ve done. Our teachers will check in, reflect with the student on their learning, and assess how things are going once a month. We will also schedule opportunities for students to share their learning with their classmates at our community gatherings.

Thinking about community
We want to make sure that we stay connected to each other. It can be hard to stay in touch if we are off in different directions, so we’ll have a community gathering once a week for half an hour on Zoom to sing, hear a story, and share what’s going on. 

Meeting the needs of our youngest students
Virtual learning is particularly difficult for young children. We won’t be able to sit them in front of screens for long periods of time, but we do have many ideas for how to engage them if we are not able to meet in person. We can do short virtual sessions with art projects, singing, games, and Hebrew Through Movement. Our holiday packets with materials for hands-on learning will be especially important. Once we know who our youngest students are, we will tailor our classes to their needs.

To learn more
Overview and Goals of Bet Sefer
Bet Sefer Curriculum 2020-2021
Bet Sefer Activities chart
Sample Monthly Plan
Embracing A Jewish Educational Vision During a Pandemic

L'shalom, Rabbi Laurie and the Children's Education Committee

Wed, August 12 2020 22 Av 5780