“The world exists only because of the innocent breath of schoolchildren.” -Talmud, Shabbat
Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El’s Early Childhood Center helps your family and child develop Jewish identity in a loving, warm, inclusive and welcoming environment. Our teachers strive to create significant moments and experiences and an appreciation for Jewish living by helping our children see the world through a Jewish lens. Jewish learning is an integral part of our curricular programming. Holiday and Shabbat celebrations help children understand Jewish traditions, customs, Hebrew language, culture and prayer. Jewish ethics and values are incorporated into our daily activities by emphasizing kindness, inclusivity and compassion for others, protecting and repairing the world and its animals and helping those in need. Our connection to Israel and its history are integral to each Jewish holiday and custom.
As with all secular subject areas in the curriculum, our Jewish Programming at Temple Beth Hillel Beth’s Early Childhood Center follows developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) as defined by National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). A key component to DAP describes learning as an experience in a teacher prepared environment, of active learning—through direct experience and discovery. NAEYC suggests that these learning experiences be concrete, real and relevant to the lives of young children. At Temple Beth Hillel we believe that the early childhood learner is no less capable of learning preliminary mathematical concepts or becoming reading ready, than he is learning Jewish values, customs, tefillah, or mitzvot. Jewish education for the early childhood learner at Temple Beth Hillel is taken seriously within developmentally appropriate guidelines. Jewish values, ethics, Pirkei Avot, Torah and Midrash, provide real answers to real situations and real problems in our lives—no matter what our age may be.
Shabbat is the heart and soul of the Jewish calendar and is at the core of our Jewish Life programming. Every Friday, one child in each class has the honor of being Shabbat King or Queen. The parents of Shabbat Kings and Queens are invited to attend a Kabbalat Service with their child’s class and then return to their child’s classroom where together they will light the candles, recite the Kiddush and bless (and eat!) the challah. Additionally, we have several school-wide family Shabbat programs scheduled throughout the year that give us all an opportunity to be together as a community in a powerfully and enriching way.
Helping Others and Tzedakah
Teaching our children to reach out and help others plays a very visible role at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El’s Early Childhood Center. We provide important and meaningful experiences for children to learn about Judaism by stressing these mitzvot as our obligation to take care of others in need and to learn sustainability as a way of caring for our world.
It has become a monthly tradition to have a special Shabbat devoted to our school-wide efforts to perform these two important mitzvot. Some of the ways in which we perform these mitzvot include supporting the work of Jewish Children and Family Services, The Mitzvah Food Pantry, the Maternity Care Coalition, the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center, Alex’s Lemonade Stand and many others. We have also partnered with schools in Philadelphia, Israel and Africa, collecting needed donations for them. Children and their families participate in activities together making cards, letters and pictures, and also singing songs for and talking with those who need company.
PJ Library Goes to School
Beginning November 2014, our 3 and 4 year old classes will begin participation in a special initiative
called PJ Goes to School. You may already be familiar with PJ Library®, a Jewish family engagement program that mails free, high-quality Jewish literature to families raising Jewish children. We are fortunate that local funders here in the Philadelphia area, along with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, make this program possible for our families.
One of PJ Library’s most recent innovations is PJ Goes to School. PJ Goes to School is a program dedicated to enhancing the Jewish content of the classroom through the use of PJ Library books (beautifully illustrated Jewish stories) to enrich and extend the early childhood curriculum, strengthen bonds between home and school, and spark meaningful Jewish conversations in class, on the playground, and at home. This year the program will start with 3’s and 4’s. We hope to integrate PJ Library Books and curriculum throughout the school in the coming years.
We are delighted that Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El’s Early Childhood Center has been selected to participate in the PJ Goes to School program. We will receive special PJ books every month, along with professional resource material to aid us in weaving the Jewish values of these books into all aspects of our curriculum. Parents will be informed about special PJ Library activities taking place in each child’s classroom, and parents will be invited to participate with us via the curriculum in various ways.
Throughout the year, Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El’s Early Childhood Center holds many special family programs and celebrations to enrich the learning experiences of your child and to create opportunities for family learning and participation in Jewish life. Classes on Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), Jewish Holidays and Ritual, as well as Jewish Parenting Concerns are offered at different times during the year.