The mission of the Valley Temple Religious School is to develop in each child a positive Jewish identity through the joy of learning together, inspiring each of them to weave Jewish ideals into the rest of their lives.
Our school is to be experienced, not just attended! There are many aspects to our approach to religious education—and living Judaism is the goal. We want kids to read, create, act, sing, pray, touch, hear, feel, and ultimately internalize all that is our Jewish heritage. Our faculty is uniquely suited to help!
Please contact Rabbi Austin Zoot, Rabbi/Educator, for more information, or if you have any questions at rabbizoot@valleytemple.
Our program capitalizes on child development starting with basic symbols of Judaism and then builds in intensity and knowledge as our children mature.
Gan Emek, our wonderful program for babies and toddlers with a parent or grandparent introduces your children to Sunday-morning-fun at Valley with Jewish music, stories,
play, and crafts. You will love being a part of the active and engaged Valley community on Sunday mornings.
GAN is a Hebrew word that means garden and the Hebrew word used for kindergarten or early childhood programs.
EMEK means valley.
GAN EMEK = Valley’s early childhood program!
Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten experience holidays and basic Jewish knowledge. First graders learn about holidays, stories, and how to live Jewishly by experiencing mitzvot (commandments) such as bal tashchit (do not destroy) and hachnasat orchim (welcoming guests) By second grade, our children are familiar with Jewish symbols, and they can study how they are used—both historically and practically (ah, here is why I use them). Second graders also take a trip through the Torah, story by story. All of the primary grades introduce students to the alef-bet, the Hebrew alphabet. Third grade focuses on a more intermediate level of learning about holidays and Shabbat prayers, as well as real Hebrew readiness. Our fourth grade will begin an in depth study of God and prayer, and the Prophets. By fifth grade, our students are able to understand and study Israel and Life Cycle Events. This leads to a sixth grade year focusing on American Jewish History and the Holocaust.
Our seventh and eighth grades continue to flourish under the guidance of the Rabbinic Intern, utilizing the innovative programming of computer chat room sessions, and Sunday morning class sessions and social programs, and off-site mitzvah missions. Through dealing with a myriad of topics this year, the Sunday morning sessions focus primarily on issues of God, comparative religion, and mitzvot.
Our Hebrew program has grown over the years to include the alefbet and prayer/mitzvot vocabulary in the primary grades. In the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades, our students learn Hebrew two days a week—a dedicated time each Sunday, in addition to Tuesday evenings. Our program focuses on prayerbook Hebrew with small and large group instruction, games, lots of reading practice, and some attention to word meaning, common roots, and grammar. This is done with the hope that by the time of B’nai Mitzvah, not only will our students be able to read from the Torah, but to translate as well.
A Reform tradition is to welcome students into religious school with a consecration ceremony. While many congregations celebrate the joy of welcoming new students during Simchat Torah, we here at Valley consecrate our kindergarten students (and new students who join the congregation after kindergarten) during the Shabbat service in Chanukah. Chanukah means rededication, so what better way to rededicate our synagogue each year than to welcome students who carry on the tradition of learning.