Home Synagogues Beth-El Beth-El Religious School Happenings

Beth-El Religious School Happenings


By Ramona L. Brand

Director of Youth Learning

Beth-El Religious School receives multiple grants for the 2021-2022 School Year

 Beth-El’s religious school programming has been strengthen this year, with the acquisitions of several grants, which will support new school initiatives and curriculum.

Thanks to the Brenda Zimm Oscar and Melvin Zimm Memorial Holocaust Education Funds from Richmond Jewish Foundation, students in grades 6- 10 will participate in a new Jewish Young adult book study with a visit from the author in March of 2022.

The focus of this project is to learn about the generational effects of antisemitism during the Holocaust and the subsequent discrimination against Jews in the Soviet Union.

The novel, The Blackbird Girls, by National Jewish Book Award winner, Ann Blankman, will serve as the catalyst for this project. Students will read the novel, which centers on the story of two girls — one Jewish, one Russian — and how the disaster of Chernobyl plummets them into a reckoning between bigotry and trust.

Resilience and Humanity

The story weaves generational narratives of the Holocaust (1941) and Jewish life in the Soviet Union (1986) and explores themes of resilience and humanity in the face of disaster. Students will engage in critical thinking about “othering,” and hatred; and will make connections between this history and historic and present global crises that detrimentally effect ethnic groups.

Students will participate in a culminating project that will provide context and perspective on the causes of those crises, but also the humanitarian responses that are possible.

 Inclusion Program

Our new Inclusion Program was awarded a grant from Richmond Jewish Foundation, Joy Kramer Memorial Fund and Jill Peck Memorial Fund to support this initiative to provide greater access to Jewish education for all learners in our community.

Following the injunction to “remove all obstacles from the road of my people, the grant will help in establishing staffing, workshops, increase resources and provide training, assessment and consultation for students, parents and teachers.

Our goal is to make a permanent shift in how our religious school serves students with differentiated needs. It is incumbent upon us to provide a positive Jewish educational experience to all of our students in an inclusive, and immersive environment.

Lastly, from the Foundation’s Rachel B. Banks Fund, the Religious School was awarded a grant for our program entitled Olam Shalem, Olam Gadol, with a focus on Global Judaism. The goal of the program is to expand students’ horizons to include diverse Jewish communities and identities and create connections to global Jewish communities.

With increasing diversity in our own local Jewish community, we want to break down the narrative that Ashkenazi experiences are the only (or most important) kind of Jewish experiences.

The school will be working with the B’chol Lashon organization to bring workshops and educational resources to our students, teachers and parents. Sessions of the program will focus on a different topic within the “Jewish universe” – holidays, traditions, stories, etc. – while creating room for both exchange and co-learning with other communities.  Ultimately, this program will serve to expose Religious School students to the diversity of the Jewish world and set the precedent for a Jewish educational space dedicated to the vast narratives within the Jewish world.

We are immensely grateful for the learning opportunities that will be provided by these generous grants.

Teen Chanukah Event: Chankah Color: Sunday, December 5

Time: 12:30 – 2 p.m.

Location: Brown Religious School, 601 N. Parham Rd, Richmond, VA 23229

What: Join Richmond USY in a series of super fun Chanukah-themed games and challenges! We will be divided into two teams and compete for the winner. We will provide donuts!

There will be some time in between the end of Religious School dismissal, and the start of the program so feel free to bring a dairy lunch or snack to eat!

If you have any questions email mahessberg@gmail.com

Chaverim Katanim

A new Chaverim Katanim (Small Friends) Tot Family Playgroup launched this year. The playgroup will meet on the 3rd Sunday of each month at the Religious School for music, stories, crafts and more in a relaxed social environment.

Families can attend on a drop-in basis. Chaverim Katanim will be the place to form friendships that can last a lifetime!

Location: Temple Beth-El Religious School 601 N. Parham Rd.

Time: 9:30-10:30 a.m.

Dates:  Dec. 12, Jan.16, March 20, May 23

There is no Charge

This program is open to the entire community. Parents must be vaccinated to attend, and masks must be worn inside the school.

December Religious School Calendar:

Sundays: Dec. 5,12

Wednesdays: Dec. 1, 8, 15

Pre-K meets: Dec. 5, 12

Grades 8 – 10 meet:  Dec. 5, 12 / 10 a.m. – noon

Chaverim Katanim: Dec. 12,  9:30 – 10:30 a.m.

Contact Ramona L. Brand at 804-355-3564 ext. 111, or r.brand@bethelrichmond.org  to learn more about our vibrant Jewish education and our remarkable congregation or visit http://www.bethelrichmond.org/education/brown-religious-school/  to find a registration form.

 Temple Beth-El Tot Shabbat Services: Saturday, Dec. 4

For families with children age Birth -5 / Open to the entire community

It’s a Hanukah Shabbat!! We’ll celebrate Shabbat and the Festival of Lights. Families can enjoy a Shabbat service geared for young children and filled with music, stories, movement and more. A musical, meaningful service designed for wiggles. Meet at 10 a.m. in the Kiddush Room at Temple Beth-El, 3330 Grove Ave.

Parents must be vaccinated to attend, and masks must be worn by all people over the age of 2.

The photos in this gallery feature Temple Beth-El students engaging in a variety of learning activities throughout the month.



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