A NOTE FROM THE RABBI
 
One of the greatest challenges for Congregation B’nai Israel– as well as all other local synagogues - is how best to teach and inspire both our students and adults in the basic practices of prayers; observance of the holidays; and a deeper understanding of what it is to be a Jew – all within the context of the busy lives which our students and parents lead!  
 
Three years ago, when discussing with Nancy Novack what steps we could take to make CBI better known and attractive in the larger community, she suggested we explore computer aided learning. If we were to develop ways to mesh our well-written curriculum into the methods which the public and private school utilize, that we’d better serve our busy families as well as serve as a training center for other religious school teachers and directors. Thus we’d benefit ourselves and become better known across the larger Jewish community. On our own we lacked the means to accomplish this. And our letter of inquiry to the MetroWest federation did not match any interest or funding.  
 
Two years ago, our congregant, Mark Lebovitz came to me with an opportunity to apply to a donor directed fund, which had grants set aside for innovation in Jewish learning and community involvement. With the earlier conversations in mind, and with an eye towards the marketing of this congregation, I re-wrote the earlier proposal, with the expertise and editing of Howard Stolzer, outlining how we could deliver the unmet need in the larger world of temples and synagogues for a new type of teacher training and improvement of learning.  
 
So, I am deeply pleased to say that this weekend we received $100,000 from the Leonard B. Kahn Foundation, as a restricted direct grant, for specific usage to create a web & computer assisted way of learning for religious school classes; to arrange and host teach training for local NJ teachers and religious school principals and to create the media center –on-line or physical—which will serve as our platform for the on-going training of teachers and directors.  
 
We anticipate that our own Religious School students will benefit quickly from this grant– as they will gain the benefits of being involved in the cutting edge development of this integrated curriculum. It will serve to enhance their time at Religious School and their overall Jewish education.  
 
We look forward to forming a working committee to guide this effort and to seek the right mix of institutional ties. We look forward to inspiring our students to learn more; to do more; and to share more with their parents. And, we look forward to CBI becoming known for these best new practices in a way that garners us new members.  
 
We thank Mark Lebovitz for his and Amy’s shepherding our application to the attention of the Kahn foundation, thus allowing us to receive a grant equal to that of day schools and hospital units many times our size. We thank Howard Stolzer for his quick and insightful writing to meet the deadline. And, we thank Nancy Novack for planting the seed of this idea out of her and Bob’s long-standing concern for the Religious School and congregation. 
 
Rabbi John S. Schechter

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Congregation B'nai Israel is committed to offering quality Jewish education to the children of our community. Our Religious School offers programs for kindergartners through B'nai Mitzvah and beyond. Our curriculum, administered by a professional director and taught by experienced educators, emphasizes study of prayers and services, Jewish culture and history, Hebrew language, Israel, and holidays and home rituals. Congregation B'nai Israel provides an excellent religious education with well-trained staff, a creative curriculum, and numerous special programming events to complement the classroom experience.

Students will begin Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation while in the seventh grade; lessons for this preparation are scheduled with the clergy and are separate from Religious School classes. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony marks the entrance of our young congregants into Jewish adulthood by the acceptance of the obligations and privileges of the community. Our goal at CBI is to make this ritual a positive Jewish experience, one filled with joy and thanksgiving for the entire family. Together we plan for this joyous occasion by encouraging not only the study of assigned Torah and Haftarah portions, but also the reasoning and questioning of the history behind the studied events. We require our students to attend a minimum number of Friday evening and Saturday morning services as we believe that familiarity and comfort with Shabbat services aids the learning process. We encourage attendance to be a family affair.

Fri, June 23 2017 29 Sivan 5777