Mah Hadash (What’s New)?

JLC teachers meeting 2015 sept

There are so many new things this time of year. The school year begins, the kids are in new grades with new teachers, new classmates and new experiences. Rosh Hashana, our New Year, gives us pause to reflect on the past and jump into the new.

On the one hand, as a parent of three school-age children and a baby, the beginning of the year causes me some anxiety… do we have the right school supplies, shoes that fit, clothing that is deemed fashionable (by my kids), can we get back into a routine, do I really have to make lunches and pack backpacks and how challenging will getting up and ready for work and getting the kids out the door be?!

On the other hand, as an educator, I relish the new opportunities to create, engage and inspire our students and teachers. Every new school year we receive a gift to begin again – to start something new, look at something we learned in the past and explore it through a different lens. The newness and freshness of the new year is exuberating and exhilarating in Jewish education. I know I have reflected on this before, beginning the School year at the same time as the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe) is truly special, we can juxtapose and examine the Holidays with the new beginning of the school year.

At the JLC we have so many new things I can’t wait to share with all of our students, families and the greater Shomrei community. For starters, we have a fabulous staff with new teachers in the K-2 class and 3-5th grade class, a new Hebrew teacher, a new music teacher and Rishon. This year’s teaching staff will work together collaboratively throughout the year as we embark on different ways to educate our students in a way where they don’t just learn about a topic; rather they experience it through all of their senses. We will supplement the current Hebrew Program that focuses on prayer with Hebrew Through Movement a method of teaching modern Hebrew where our students get up out of their seats and are constantly moving. We also will have monthly family programming on Sundays to engage all learners in the family unit, exploring holidays, Jewish Culture, art and music together. One Sunday a month, all JLC students will come together and participate in activities related to the value of the month and create a group art installation.

With so many new programs and parts ahead of us, I look forward to a fabulous new school year and Jewish Year!


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Sara Birnbaum
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Sara Birnbaum

Education Director at Congregation Shomrei Emunah
Sara is the Director of the Shomrei JLC (Jewish Learning Center - Hebrew School). She comes to Shomrei with over 15 years experience in Experiential Jewish Education, teaching in synagogue schools, working for Camp Ramah and in many roles in United Synagogue Youth. She brings a love of Jewish learning and infuses her Ruach in her work. She has a Masters of Social Work from Yeshiva University where she developed a love of modern Jewish Philosophy.She is an alum of the Nativ College Leadership Program in Israel, the Conservative movement’s gap year program.
Sara Birnbaum
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One thought on “Mah Hadash (What’s New)?

  1. Mazel tov on a great beginning of the school year! I would have much appreciated a caption for the picture, identifying for readers all the “dramatis personae.” I know some, but not all of them.

    Thanks and b’hatzlakha,
    Bill Batkay

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