Frequently Asked Questions, by topic:
- BJEP as an Independent Jewish Sunday School
- BJEP as a Welcoming Community
- BJEP Brandeis University teachers and Madrichim (classroom assistants)
- BJEP adapts to remote learning
Section 1: BJEP as an Independent Jewish Sunday School
What is meant by an “independent” Jewish Sunday School? By “independent” we mean that we are not affiliated with any particular denomination of Judaism or a with a synagogue. Our families come to BJEP from diverse backgrounds and share a desire to provide a Jewish education for their child(ren). Our school is funded primarily by tuition, as well as by donations and grants.
Why BJEP? Top Reasons Our Families Joined:
- Brandeis undergraduates connect with their kids and make learning fun
- Prefer a Sunday morning program to one that meets during the week
- BJEP’s inclusive, diverse and welcoming community
- Opportunities to be part of a larger community through holiday and shabbat celebrations
What is the religious background of most families? BJEP families come from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds and our curriculum reflects that spectrum. We are a pluralistic community, comprised of families from all walks of Jewish life, including many interfaith families.
I’m moving to the area in January, can I join BJEP mid-way through the year? BJEP is always open to new families joining when the time is right for you, at any point in the year. We would welcome a discussion with you, please get in touch with Rabbi Myra to discuss further at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do you support diverse learners? BJEP is committed to inclusive classroom instruction and supporting diverse learning needs in our classrooms. We support students, teachers and families by engaging with our area partner – Gateways – which offers us training, workshops and ongoing engagement with current best practices. We create individualized learning and behavior plans with students and provide teachers with the necessary tools for classroom management.
How do BJEP students prepare for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah? BJEP’s program provides students with a foundation in Hebrew and prayer and builds a Jewish identity for our children. Many if not most students will have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, and families have several options from which to choose. BJEP offers Bar or Bat Mitzvah tutoring for students as a supplemental program, with individual preparation taking place outside of class time. BJEP offers informational meetings each year for parents of fifth and sixth graders to discuss steps in planning for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah service and celebration. When there is interest,, BJEP organizes a B’nei Mitzvah experience for a group of 7th grade students. Rabbi Myra will work with families each year to discuss plans and how BJEP can support you in this joyful moment as you mark this celebratory moment for your child and family.
Section 2: BJEP as a Welcoming Community
What towns do families come from? BJEP families come from more than 20 towns in Massachusetts. The majority are from the Greater Boston area including Newton, Needham, Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Waltham, Natick, Lincoln, Wellesley, Framingham, Needham, Milford, Medfield and Southborough.
How do you build a sense of community when there are families from many towns? BJEP creates a warm and welcoming community for everyone to engage with on Sunday mornings. There are many opportunities for parents to mingle, learn and celebrate with each other and with their children. Parents congregate in our Atrium lounge – with coffee and a nosh – on select Sundays, giving them the chance to connect while their children are in class. Family programs provide an opportunity to learn with fellow parents in your child’s classroom, and community-wide programs – such as Sukkot on the farm, the Purim carnival, Mitzvah days and our 6th grade Legacy fair – provide the anchor for joyful celebrations throughout the year. Many parents take advantage of the various adult education offerings, delving into themes such as Jewish parenting, Jewish values and social justice. At other times, parents find some quiet time (with their laptop in tow) in a quiet space in a Brandeis Atrium, or take a walk with fellow parents around the campus.
What does it mean that BJEP is a parent cooperative? Each family supports the BJEP program by selecting a parent job upon registration. Parent jobs range from running a booth at the Purim Carnival, to helping with High Holiday services or greeting families on the farm at Sukkot, to updating our website or lending your talents in graphic design. Parents who join our parent-led Board are able to participate in Board-level leadership development workshops as part of our partnership with CJP, and to impact BJEP’s program and sustainability through collaboration, teamwork and strategic planning. Each family is integral to helping BJEP run smoothly and to creating a sense of community, while keeping tuition as low as possible.
Do you offer an abbreviated program for my child in pre-K?? Students enter BJEP in any grade, from K through 7th grade. We also offer a monthly Seedlings program for ages 4-5 with focus on Jewish holidays and values through the creative arts.
Can my child enter in a later grade? We are committed to working with students who enter BJEP in any grade by helping them integrate into their classroom communities. In addition, we offer a supplemental Hebrew tutoring program to work with individual students, as needed. Much of our Judaic curriculum is spiraled, increasing in depth and breadth each year. Each grade has a particular focus that builds on but is not dependent upon previous learning. As such, students are able to join in any grade without feeling behind or unprepared for the curriculum.
Does BJEP offer programming for the High Holidays? Yes! BJEP offers afternoon High Holiday Family services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and on Yom Kippur. The services are designed for families with children. While children of all ages are welcome, the experience will be most meaningful for children ages 4 and up. Services run a little over an hour. On Rosh Hashanah, there will be a light Kiddush following the service. These services include Hebrew and English prayers with lots of music and singing, and offer a meaningful and engaging experience, regardless of background. We request an additional family donation to help defray the cost of providing these services. Click here for more information including location and registration.
Section 3: BJEP Brandeis University teachers and Madrichim (classroom assistants)
Who are BJEP’s Teachers? BJEP engages Brandeis University students, often affiliated with the campus Hillel program, to be our classroom teachers. They often stay with the BJEP program through their whole college career. Many are studying to be professional teachers, and we have been excited to have had a few teachers who have continued on to Rabbinical school. They are passionate about their Judaism and have the energy to make BJEP fun and exciting for our families. Many of them have attended Jewish summer camps throughout their lives and help us infuse BJEP with a camp-like feeling.
What are the religious backgrounds of the Brandeis student teachers? Like BJEP families, our Brandeis student-teachers come from a variety of Jewish backgrounds. Our teachers bring the diversity, depth and variety of their own Jewish practices to their teaching, and as young adults they serve as amazing role models for our students, showing their continued interest and engagement in Jewish community. They draw on the wisdom of the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and other strands of Judaism, as well as summers at camp, to bring Judaism to life in the classroom. Even with their various backgrounds, they form a cohesive and dedicated staff with the common desire to make Jewish learning fun and meaningful for their students.
How do you teach students and families of all different Jewish backgrounds? BJEP teachers are creative, joyful, passionate and compassionate. BJEP students enjoy experiential learning through interactive lessons in a values-based curriculum that meet students wherever they are on their own Jewish journeys.
With only one day a week of school, what are BJEP’s educational priorities? At BJEP, we are committed to cultivating each child’s authentic relationship with Judaism. We endeavor to teach students the foundational concepts of Jewish religion, culture and values by exposing them to Jewish history, traditions and experiences. Our Hebrew program aims to develop the students’ reading skills and to teach the fundamental prayers to serve as a foundation for meaningful participation in Jewish rituals. Teachers instill in their students positive feelings about being Jewish; a sense of community with the Jewish people; a sense of concern for others and Tikkun Olam (repairing the world); and the tools to make informed decisions about how they will live their lives as Jewish adults.
How do Madrichim support classroom learning? BJEP graduates in grades 8-12 continue their participation by serving as assistants in the classroom. They offer support for students, lead from their learning experiences at BJEP, and support hands-on activities, e.g., art projects, singing and supporting the electives (grades 3-7). During our family programs, Madrichim will take the lead in showcasing joy and fun, such as leading booths at our Purim carnival.
Section 4: BJEP adapts to remote learning
Will your school provide remote or in-person learning from September 2021? BJEP successfully pivoted our program to online learning for the 20-21 academic year, continuing to engage students weekly with online learning tools and family engagement programs throughout the year. We are partnering with the facilities team at Brandeis to determine the timing for our safe return to campus, subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates.
How important is Jewish learning in pandemic times, and what Jewish teachings help guide us in what to do during a pandemic? More than ever, these unprecedented times are forcing us all to take stock of what really matters – the core values of our family units that we want to continue to pass on to our children. In Rabbi Myra’s recent article, “Why Bother with Jewish Community” she highlights the connection, enrichment and purpose we so desperately need and that Jewish community is uniquely suited to provide.
How can I sign up for your e-mailing list? Easy. Subscribe here, and you will begin to receive our periodic e-newsletter in a short time. Takes just a moment. Welcome to BJEP!
Have another question? Get in touch with Rabbi Myra Meskin, BJEP’s Community Director at email@example.com.