וְהָיוּ הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם עַל־לְבָבֶךָ וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ…
Take to heart these things with which I charge you this day; impress them upon your children…
חֲנֹךְ לַנַּעַר עַל־פִּי דַרְכּוֹ גַּם כִּי־יַזְקִין לֹא־יָסוּר מִמֶּנָּה
Train a child according to their way; even in old age, they will not turn away…
Touro Synagogue’s Religious School is where we grow our future. Our goal each week is to lovingly and intentionally engage every child and teenager in a way that both imparts Judaism’s collective history and practices, and sparks students’ curiosity, self-exploration, and wonder. We are the weekly, kid-centric extension of Touro’s guiding values: transformative prayer, expansive thought, fearless engagement, and love.
We warmly invite you to read more about the Who, What, When, and Why of our Religious School program below. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to email Rabbi Todd Silverman or Lauren Sturm, or call at 504-895-4843.
WHO WE ARE
Touro Synagogue Religious School is open to all children of member families in Pre-K* through 10th Grade. With students ranging in age from 4 to 17 years old, it is typical to see active learning taking place in all sorts of different ways throughout the building each week — with singing and dancing, reading, cooking, scene-building and movie-making (with LEGOs!), practicing Hebrew, and engaging in deep discussions and debates.
Our fabulous teaching team is comprised of caring, dedicated community members from every walk of personal and professional life; they are teachers, college students, civil servants, social workers, musicians, and social justice advocates (just to name a few).
*Enrolling in Pre-K at Touro Synagogue Religious School should correspond to the year before a child enters Kindergarten at their weekday school.
WHAT WE TEACH
Because Jewish life and Jewish identity are most richly developed by a thoughtful weaving together of both information and lived experience, our educational mission starts by recognizing that we teach students, not subjects. Guided by this principle, our curriculum provides learners with authentic, developmentally-appropriate touchpoints to the most important aspects of Jewish culture, beliefs, rituals, and practices. These include:
- the Jewish calendar, including holidays, stories, symbols, and songs
- the books of Genesis and Exodus, and other Tanakh (Bible) stories
- mitzvot (commandments) and the development of Jewish texts and practices beyond Torah
- Hebrew decoding and prayer/text reading practice
- the structure and flow of our siddur (prayer book), Mishkan T’filah
- lifecycle ceremonies and rites from birth through death
- Israel from Biblical times through the present day
- the Shoah/Holocaust (taught in conjunction with local secular school partners)
- God and the development of Jewish theology
- Jewish notions of justice, ethics, and social action
- Reform Judaism, current events, and personal Jewish identity
We strive to create an engaged, active partnership between each child’s Religious School experience and their family life at home. To help foster that partnership, each grade is provided more in-depth curricular information at the start of the year, and parents/guardians are periodically invited to join their child’s class as helpers or fellow learners.
ABOUT HEBREW & PRAYER
We believe that learning Hebrew is an important part of building Jewish identity — it unlocks the fullness of sacred rituals, and it links us to the past through scripture, poetry, and songs. By the morning of their B’nei Mitzvah service, all Religious School students should be able to:
- easily decode Torah- and prayer-based Hebrew texts
- recall basic Hebrew prayer vocabulary
- describe the structure, flow, and choreography of Shabbat services
- navigate the Mishkan T’filah siddur with ease
- confidently chant their B’nei Mitzvah Torah and Haftarah portions
Starting in 3rd Grade, our Wednesday afternoon Uptown Hebrew program prepares students to become B’nei Mitzvah. During the year immediately preceding their service, students also join small-learning pods with two other rising B’nei Mitzvah students; those pods meet weekly with Cantor Margolius and the clergy team.
WHEN DO STUDENTS ATTEND?
Touro’s Religious School is in session two days a week: Sunday mornings and Wednesday afternoons. Depending on your child’s grade level, they will attend on one or both of those days:
- Pre-K, K, 1st, & 2nd Grades meet once a week: 9:00-11:30 AM on Sundays
- 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th Grades meet twice a week: 9:00-11:30 AM on Sundays and 4:30-6:00 PM on Wednesdays
- 7th through 10th Graders meet every other week: 9:00-11:30 AM on Sundays**
These dates are specified on the Touro Synagogue Calendar; families with students in those grades are also provided a list of session dates.
Please note: In response to parent feedback regarding school and extracurricular activity schedules, we have shifted the timing of Uptown Hebrew this year to 4:30-6:00 PM. We hope this change will make it easier for all 3rd Grade through B’nei Mitzvah students to join us each week. Please reach out to Rabbi Silverman with any questions or to discuss registration. More information is available here.
EXPERIENTIAL AND SERVICE LEARNING TRIPS
Students in our Confirmation track have the opportunity to travel with their Religious School peers twice throughout their time here. Each trip presents opportunities to see how Reform Jewish values have shaped (and continue to shape) our actions and ethics.
In either 7th or 8th grade, students travel with other Jewish teens from New Orleans and other communities from the South to Birmingham, AL for a 3-day immersion into the history and legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. Together with peers, chaperones, and clergy they stand in churches that were once targets of hate and terrorism, and visit museums, institutes, and individuals dedicated to ensuring institutionalized racism and bigotry never gain power again.
In either 9th or 10th grade, our Confirmation students travel to Washington, DC, with Rabbi Silverman to take part in the Religious Action Center’s L’Taken Social Justice Seminar. For three days, students are exposed to a number of current social justice issues, and are taught the skills to advocate for legislative changes they believe are necessary. On the final day of the program, we pay an in-person visit to our congressional representatives’ offices on Capitol Hill for one-on-one discussions with legislators and their administrative staff. For more information on the L’Taken Seminar, click here.
QUESTIONS? CONCERNS? CONTACT US!
We value the uniqueness of each congregant and we are committed to providing a community that is inclusive and accessible. If you have any questions about Religious School, or if someone in your family requires special accommodations in order to access the fullness of synagogue life, please contact the office at (504) 895-4843.