Seeking Wisdom – Lifelong Learning
School & Youth
Temple Beth Israel offers a dynamic, structured program of Jewish learning for children from tots through high school. Our curriculum is dedicated to building community, developing an authentic Jewish identity and inspiring confidence in our students. Our school is committed to diversity and inclusivity and our students are inspired to learn and have conversations about Jewish tradition in a safe and pluralistic space.
Starting with our parent-tot class and continuing through 8th grade, we offer a rich, varied and engaging Sunday morning educational program that uses music, art, and technology.
In addition to these dynamic curriculums:
Our 6th and 7th grade programs add the component of B’nai Mitzvah preparation.
Our 8th and 9th grade Gesher program creates a bridge from childhood to adult learning. Co-produced with The Response Center, we offer a two-year curriculum that provides a safe discussion in a Jewish context of subjects both challenging and relevant to our students, including stress management, sex education, healthy relationships, drug abuse, alcohol abuse and more.
Our high school students (10th-12th grades) meet monthly with our Rabbi to discuss current events and topics of interest to young adults through a Jewish lens. These meetings are held in the rabbi’s study and are open to all high school students.
Also, many Temple Beth Israel students serve as Machoniks (teachers’ aides) beginning in 8th grade and throughout high school. They serve as role models for our younger students and provide support to our faculty. Monthly meetings provide leadership training, problem-solving skills, and classroom management.
We are always available to discuss any need for special accommodation.
Parent-tot – 2nd grade meets Sundays 9:00 am – 11:00 am
3rd – 7th grades meet Sundays 9:00 am – 12:10 pm & Wednesdays 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Gesher (8th & 9th grades) meets Sundays 11:10 am – 12:10 pm
High School (10th – 12th grades) meets monthly on Sunday 11:10 am – 12:10 pm
Hebrew Learning- Hebrew is the golden key to Jewish education (Chaim Nachman Bialik):
Beginning in 3rd grade our students also attend class on Wednesday afternoons and our program expands to include Hebrew language. We believe that the Hebrew language is an important gateway to Jewish culture and thought. In addition to preparing our students for B’nai Mitzvah and to be competent participants in Jewish worship, we are deeply committed to teaching the modern Hebrew language.
From organizing classroom social events to reminding parents of what comes next in the life of the congregation, the YES (Youth Education Services) Committee works to provide a value-added experience for parents with students in our school.
Our Youth Groups offer age-appropriate, informal opportunities to make friends, engage in Jewish life and have fun together. Junior Youth Group brings together our students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades for social activities and projects that help to improve the world. Senior Youth Group provides our high school students with leadership skills and a supportive community to grow and develop as responsible Jewish adults. Emphasis is on service to the community while having fun together.
TBI is a long-time, strong supporter of Jewish summer camping, especially at Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute, the first camp of the Reform Movement. We believe that Jewish summer camp is a dynamic and important component of a complete Jewish education. Many of our students attend OSRUI during the summer as campers and many Temple Beth Israel members are OSRUI staff, faculty and lay leadership. Our camp scholarship committee works hard to ensure that every child who desires will be able to have a great camp experience.
Send a Kid to Israel Partnership:
As early adopters of this program through the Jewish United Fund (JUF) of Metropolitan Chicago, our congregation financially supports this savings program that begins when children are in 3rd grade. With partnership from JUF and Temple Beth Israel, students will have over $2,000 by the end of 9th grade that can be used for an approved Israel trip during high school or college years.
Our vibrant and active program of Adult Learning responds to the diverse and changing interests of our members. One thing remains constant: a high standard of education that translates into interesting and engaging conversation and a deep understanding of our culture and our people.
By creating multiple portals of entry to Jewish learning we have created a congregation of learners. Offerings for all ages and schedules, fun topics, and text-based study, “How To” classes and other Jewish learning for Jewish living.
Adult Hebrew Education – Kitot Ivrit:
Understanding Hebrew enhances our interaction with Torah and can deepen our experience during worship. With offerings for those who are beginners through those who are more conversant in Hebrew, these classes are free to Temple members. Non-members are invited to participate for a fee.
At TBI, there are a number of book groups exploring literature of all kinds: fiction and non-fiction; recent releases and classics; books of Jewish interest and books of general interest.
Monday Night Learning:
At least twice a year an adult education study series is offered on Monday evenings at Temple Beth Israel. Adults from across the spectrum of our congregation gather to study and learn.
This group meets weekly to study Biblical Jewish texts, ranging from the Torah through the Prophets and the writings. This lay-led group delves deeply into the meaning of the text, exploring the language, traditions, and historical contexts associated with these cornerstones of our tradition.
Shabbat Torah Study With the Rabbi:
In Rabbi’s study each Shabbat morning, from 9:00 am to 10:15 am, adult learners gather to read and discuss the Tanach (the Hebrew Bible). It is an open discussion of the Biblical text (in English). Regular and occasional attendees are all welcome. No prior knowledge is required.
Sunday Morning Seminars:
Award-winning authors, nationally recognized academics and Jewish professionals round out the roster of speakers who engage with members on a variety of topics from current events to Jewish ethics from Jewish history to culinary arts.
With a multi-generational, open and inclusive membership, Temple Beth Israel offers family programming for families, however they are defined. Our TBI community gathers for celebration, for worship, for learning, and to help others in times of need. Our programming enables family units to participate in joint experiences matching everyone’s knowledge with age-appropriate activity. Programs range from our annual Brotherhood sponsored picnic and Sisterhood bake sale to mitzvah projects through the school and those of our b’nai mitzvah students.
Grade Level Programs:
Our philosophy of Jewish lifelong learning includes a commitment to building community not only through our formal education program but also through informal get-togethers that foster ongoing relationships. Our room parents organize family-fun activities for each grade level throughout the year.
Havdalah and a Mitzvah:
Throughout the year, the YES (Youth Education Services) Committee together with the Room Parents’ Committee co-produce activities that bring families together to observe Havdalah and participate in various mitzvah related activities.
Each holiday brings with it an opportunity for inter-generational activity. For example, Sukkah decorating for children of all ages and Pizza in the Hut; dancing with the Torah on Simchat Torah; Uncle Louie’s Latkes and a festive Hanukkah party; Megillah reading, Purim Carnival, and Purim Shpiels; and our congregational Seder including many afikomen seekers.
This twenty-four hour “shabbaton” is a wonderful opportunity for tots and their parents (and grandparents) to get away from the city and spend time at OSRUI. Family-centered, age-appropriate activities fill our day and in the evening parents enjoy a more mature conversation with our rabbi.
Every other year we retreat together for a weekend at OSRUI. Members of all generations enjoy some time to relax, to study, to pray, to socialize, and to celebrate a very special Shabbat.
Sisterhood Study with Rabbi:
This text study group, sponsored by Sisterhood, meets on Wednesday mornings with Rabbi Weinberg for Fall and Spring semesters. We enjoy a wide-ranging discussion stimulated by the text and our own questions. Currently we are studying: “The Torah: A Women’s Commentary” produced by the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ).