Eighty North American educators gathered in Crown Heights this past week for a two-day Hebrew School planning sprint. A project by CKids of Merkos, Suite 302, the conference gave these Hebrew School directors an opportunity to network with their colleagues, explore new ideas and curriculums, brainstorm, and fully map out their Hebrew School calendar with the help of their peers and experts in the field.
“It was a very practical conference,” says CKids director Rabbi Zalman Loewenthal. “And everyone felt so relieved to have well-built curriculums and special events completely planned for next year.” Chava Rendler, director of the F.R.E.E. Hebrew School for Russian-Americans in Chicago, says, “I was impressed with the professionalism of the event. It was so practical and relevant. I am glad I went.”
The first day of sessions featured workshops on successful Hebrew reading programs, marketing advice, and discipline tips. At the end of the day, the women broke up into smaller groups, based on the size and structure of their schools, and worked together to map out the year’s curriculum.
The next day highlighted special events, like opening day and graduation, and holiday programming. A session on parent and staff engagement was presented and again, the participants mapped out special programming for the entire year.
“It’s important to refresh your program, continue growing and keep up with the curve,” says Miriam Labkowski, director of Chabad Hebrew School in Briarcliff Manor, New York. She says it was beneficial to hear tried-and-true methods from people who’ve perfected the system. “I left with new concrete ideas that I will incorporate into our program this coming year.”
With the completion of a successful pilot year, Loewenthal introduced JewQ Championship, a Torah competition that was created to give children who don’t attend Jewish day schools an exciting opportunity to absorb fundamental Judaic knowledge. He hopes more Hebrew Schools will join the program.
“The education children receive when they are young affects their entire lives,” Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky says. “These two days really solidified the Jewish education that eighty Hebrew Schools will be giving over to their students and, at the same time, relieving some of the stress of planning for the directors.”
Rendler thanks the directors of CKids and the Shluchos steering committee Mrs. Sara Alevsky, Mrs. Chana Gansburg, Mrs. Beila Goodman, and Mrs. Gillie Shanowitz for their “time and dedication to make this event, and for helping us educate Jewish children all over the world.”