What we learn in the classroom: more than just Hebrew and Judaica.
What do we find in the curriculum of a religious school class? Aleph Bet, stories from Torah, Jewish history and culture, and Shabbat prayers usually top the list. Sprinkle in tikkun olam, (repairing the world) and g’milut chasadim (acts of loving kindness) and you’re all set, right?
Not necessarily! A list of Jewish topics is a start, but not a complete picture of what hap-pens inside our classrooms. As Jewish role models, we as a faculty strive to impart not only Jewish wisdom but also Jewish morals and values.
At our faculty workshop this summer, we spent the morning generating ideas and lessons that help our learners gain knowledge as well as develop into Jewish adults with strong morals and values. For instance, we can learn the creation story as one way to explain how the world came into existence. God created light and darkness, day and night, plants and animals, and finally human beings. As we look at Adam and Chava (Adam and Eve), we read that God created Chava to be an ezer k’negdo (a helper for Adam). This divine act teaches us that we need others to help us in our lives- whether it is something as mundane as emptying the dishwasher or walking the dog, or as significant as helping a stranger in need. By acting out the values in our text, we learn what it means to be a moral person.
Morality extends beyond the content area of the class: arriving on time shows respect for our faculty and the hard work they put into each and every class; finishing projects in class demonstrates a commitment to using time wisely; and practicing at home exhibits a sense of responsibility and follow-through. When your learners walk through our doors, they may focus on the con-tent: How do we celebrate Tu B’shevat? What does it mean to become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah? What is the significance of candles on Shabbat? But there is so much more involved in each and every lesson.
It is through Religious School that we partner with you to contribute to your learner’s education - both in form and in content. It is our communal goal to raise up the next generation of contentious, respectful, and knowledgeable Jewish adults. I look forward to embarking on this endeavor with you over the coming weeks, months, and years.
Rabbi Monica Kleinman
Rabbi Monica Kleinman
Rabbi Monica Kleinman (Meyer) is excited to join Adath Emanu-El this summer as Rabbi-Educator. She is about to earn smicha from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, as well as a Master’s in Education Administration from Xavier University. Born and raised in Southeastern Wisconsin, Monica attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned Bachelor’s degrees in History and Modern Hebrew with honors. Her passion is facilitating positive Jewish experiences for people of all ages and backgrounds – she seeks to find what makes each person “tick” and use their interests to then enrich their own Jewish experiences.
Her academic interests include Modern Hebrew and Jewish history. She recently completed her rabbinic thesis entitled “Engaging International Jewish Cultures: A Middle School Curriculum for Supplementary Religious Schools.” She has experience in curriculum overview and design and recently spearheaded the overhaul of the educational experience at a Reform synagogue in Cincinnati.
Monica has worked in a variety of congregations, whose sizes range from six to six hundred families, in the communities of Madison WI, Trenton MI, Grand Forks ND, McGehee AR, Wilmette IL, Cincinnati OH, and Louisville KY. She enjoys learning and experiencing Judaism with Jewish families and being together for both joyous and difficult times. Monica and her husband, Rabbi Jon Kleinman, are excited to move to Mt. Laurel and experience life on the East Coast. They look forward to meeting the Adath community and starting their married life together in the greater Philadelphia area!