Hello and Happy September!
My name is Molly Jacobs and I am excited to join the Congregation Agudas Achim board this year as the Director of Education. This is the beginning of a new tradition for our congregation in which the board members will be taking turns writing these letters from now on, both as an opportunity to introduce themselves to the community and to share excitement about the parts of the synagogue life for which they serve. My daughter, Sarah, is going into sixth grade this year and has been attending the Hebrew School program since she was 5 years old. Meanwhile, I have served on the Education Committee for the last three years.
I have been an educator in the Boston Public Schools since 2005. Located in Jamaica Plain (one mile from my old house), I have taught second, third and fourth grade Special Education-Inclusion classes and a combination of English as a Second Language and Literacy classes. This year marks my second year implementing a class in Mindfulness for approximately 250 of our kindergarten to eighth graders. Sarah and I now live in Smithfield, Rhode Island with my husband, Patrick and son, Alijah. and we have enjoyed being a part of the temple community for the past six years.
I’m excited about how our Hebrew school program continues to evolve to meet the needs of our youngest members and their families. This past year some of our Hebrew School students explored and shared what their Jewish identity means to them. Others participated in a play written and directed by our own playwright, Hannah Bell. Our youngest students in Kitah Gan, ages 3-4, focused on learning about Jewish Life. They learned about their Jewish names, food, holidays, Jewish values and Torah stories through hands-on activities, including music, games, movement, art, cooking and more!
The Lower School, grades 1-3, used a program from PJ Library, called PJ Goes to School, which explores Jewish life and values through children’s literature. These students considered Jewish time and how it differs from our secular lives. The students learned about Jewish holidays, Torah, prayer, and living Jewish values. The first graders began to learn Hebrew letters while the second graders studied Hebrew phonics and practiced decoding Hebrew words.
In the Upper School, grades 4-7, the students studied Jewish prayers, explored their meanings and developed their skills as service leaders by participating in and leading a weekly service as a school community. They also continued to develop their Hebrew reading skills through the study of modern Hebrew.
During seventh grade, in addition to attending Upper School, students prepared to become bar or bat mitzvah, including taking part in family educational sessions and working with an independent tutor to prepare their haftorah and Torah readings.
After their B’nei Mitvah, many temple teens have remained involved with the Hebrew School as madrichim (aides), supporting and assisting Hebrew School teachers for both the Lower and Upper School. They have also continued to maintain their friendships with each other through the teen youth group at our temple.
This year, the Education Committee is excited to continue to provide engaging educational experiences, including family learning opportunities through the Learning B’Yachad program. We also will be piloting a new project that builds on and refines the work that our students did through their regular visits to the Branches assisted living center in North Attleboro. In addition to having some of our students continue visiting the senior citizens, we are excited to partner with the temple’s Social Action Committee to create more opportunities to connect with the Jewish tenant of Tikkun Olam.
On behalf of the Education Committee, we are excited to share with you our plan for the year as it continues to unfold. New and innovative experiences are in store for this upcoming year!
PS I look forward to seeing all of you at the Temple Block Party on September 8. Not only do I serve on the board, but I am also a singer in the band, which will be performing at the Block Party!
Amy and her husband George have lived in North Attleboro for the past 21 years. She grew up as a member of Agudas Achim, and became a bat mitzvah in 1983. He son, Samuel, followed in her footsteps, becoming a bar mitzvah in 2013. After being a member of the board for the past 4 years, Amy is looking forward to continuing to build on the momentum from our previous leadership.