About B'nai Israel Community Education & Youth Adult Education Calendar & Events Resources Return to Main
_About B'nai Israel ____Community __.._Education & Youth ___Adult Education ___Calendar & Events _____Resources ______Return to Main

The Community School for Jewish Learning

a collaboration of B’nai Israel Jewish Center and Congregation Ner Shalom

A Bigger Community

B'nai Israel is proud to co-sponsor the Community School for Jewish Learning - known as "J School" - alongside Congregation Ner Shalom of Cotati. By joining together, we have built an exciting, engaging and diverse student body and parent community. We offer our children a strong peer group, critical mass in their classes, fun, friendship, Hebrew, history, art, nature and tzedakah.

Raising mensches enveloped in Jewish spirituality

We involve our students in:

    Lashon Hakodesh – our holy language of Hebrew, in prayer, text and song
    Torah – our sacred text, our library and the values they teach us: how to live them and how to talk about them
    Moadim – our holy days and what they mean historically, ritually and psychospiritually
    Derech Eretz – "the way of the world" — how to live an ethical life based on millennia of Jewish teachings

We pray with our feet

We experience our Jewishness outdoors and indoors

We ask questions

Our students learn...

    ✡ What does it mean to be Jewish?
    ✡ What is tzedakah?
    ✡ What is a sacred community?
    ✡ What is holy work and who does it?
    ✡ How can the Torah inform how we live and act in the world today?
    ✡ How does our story of liberation inspire us to liberate others?
    ✡ How do we infuse our days, weeks and years with meaning and connections?
    ✡ How are we connected to our people and the natural world through time and place and purpose?
    ✡ How are we connected to Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel), Am Yisrael (the people of Israel) and Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel)?
    ✡ How can prayer affect what we do?
    ✡ How can prayers come off the page and out into the world?

We want for our children...

...to learn and practice Jewish values, increase their Jewish literacy, deepen their sense of spirituality and build lasting friendships with their classmates.

Where, When & How
Students are grouped by K-1, 2-3, 4-5 and 6-7 grades, and then post-Bnai Mitzvah. Students in our younger grades study mitzvot, Torah stories and holidays, and learn basic Hebrew reading. Our older classes learn Hebrew prayer, Jewish values and Jewish history, all in a way that allows them to understand the beauty, wisdom and relevance of Jewish tradition to their own life experience. We use art, music, drama, cooking and engagement with nature, and of course texts to bring Judaism alive.

The 4th-7th classes also prepare Bar/Bat Mitzvah students through learning prayer, melodies, Torah trope, and ways to understand and relate to Torah text. J School is also open to young people who have chosen not to have a B-Mitzvah ceremony. Understanding the role of an adult in the Jewish community and in this world is relevant to all our kids.

High schoolers who participate in our Torah Lishmah (learning for its own sake) class explore areas of Jewish interest that they choose. Over the past years this has included mysticism, Biblical history, messianism, Hebrew poetry, folklore and humor. This class, taught by Reb Irwin Keller, is typically held in a café over hot chocolate. (Perks of growing up.)

Hours and Schedule

In 2014-15, we will meet from August 24, 2014 to May 17, 2015.

All K-7th grade students meet together on Sundays from 9:30 to noon. We start with a circle of song, story and prayer for the whole community—students, parents and teachers. Afterwards, students and teachers go to their classrooms to learn together.

This year, Sunday sessions are held at B'nai Israel Jewish Center, 740 Western Avenue, Petaluma.

4th-7th grade students also meet on Thursdays from 4-6 pm at Congregation Ner Shalom, 85 La Plaza, Cotati.

Ready to Get Involved?

You can download registration materials as a printable PDF or in MS Word format. For more information on J School, contact Rabbi Meredith Cahn by e-mail at school@bnaiisrael.net or by phone at (530) 414-4985. You can also download a copy of our flier (MS Word) here.

And don't let money stop you. Tuition scholarships may be available for families who need them.