What is a Hebrew Learning Circle? A Hebrew Learning Circle for children is a home-hosted and/or online Hebrew School class, that meets during after-school hours. It is called a Circle because students typically face one another as they sit around a dining-room table or lounge together in the living-room, or occupy the video conference screen.
How often and for how long do Circles meet? Learning Circles meet once a week, for 30 weeks, September through June. A typical Circle session is one hour long, while occassional special sessions take one and one half hour.
What do students learn? We offer 5 basic subject blocks: Jewish Holidays, Torah stories, Ethics and Mitzvot, Hebrew reading, and Jewish songs. However, we often customize the curriculum to accommodate parents' specific requests, such as Israel, God and spirituality, certain prayers, etc.. Ultimately, our goal is that students take home a positive educational experience and curiosity to learn more in the future.
How much homework will the students receive? Hardly any. It is our policy not to burden our students with homework, with some rare exceptions sprinkled throughout the year. We believe that healthy cultural and religious education requires more connection and less memorization.
Who are the teachers? We hire instructors that we believe have the talent and dedication to build rapport with our students and deliver skillful lessons. Instructors are from across the denominational spectrum, secular Israelis to Orthodox and everything in between. We do train and supervise our instructors extensively to ensure a high quality experience for our students. We ask our instructors to teach the basics and avoid indoctrination of any kind. We trust that our students will make up their own minds over time about each his or her Jewish philosophical orientation and lifestyle. Our teachers are expected to teach students how to think, not what to think.
What is the size of the Circle? We limit the Circle size to 7 students.
Are the students in a Circle all the same age or gender? A typical Circle can have a mix of ages and gender. We do, however, limit the age gap in a Circle to no larger than two years apart. In other words, a Circle may consist of 2nd and 3rd graders with perhaps a 4th grader, or 4th and 5th graders, etc. We make age related acceptance choices on case by case basis.
We are not a religious family, will we feel comfortable? Most of our student families are "minimally observant" and from a variety of backgrounds. We value and embrace the diversity of Jewish cultural and religious background amongst our participating families.
How involved are parents expected to be? The Circle runs like a parent and student educational cooperative. A volunteer parent will act as the Circle Coordinator (or class parent). The coordinator is often the person who helps the group get started. The parents do help facilitate the smooth running of the Circle by carrying out the following simple tasks:
Providing basic educational supplies as per our short supplies list.
Helping to tend to the learning spaces, such as set up, clean up, etc. as needed (rarely), to ensure that the host family does not end up overburdened.
Help organize Circle group activities, such as a yearly field trip, a Circle home-hosted (or online) Shabbat dinner, etc.
Will you prepare our child for Bar/t Mitzvah, and how will we do the ceremony? Yes, and yes. We will prepare your child for the Bar/t Mitzvah ceremony and our Rabbi is available to conduct the ceremony at a location of your choice. Some families have the ceremony at home and others at a catering hall, to which we bring a Torah scroll and conduct a very special and personalized ceremony. We also prepare students for a ceremony in Israel and would be happy to refer you to a Rabbi and other resources in Israel.
Are we required to become members of Hebrew Learning Circles? No. You can register your child in a Learning Circle without becoming a full fledged member. However, we do offer a community membership option in Makom HaLev Community. This option is for those who are interested in a long (and broad) term relationship with a Jewish community and our Rabbi. Go to Makom HaLev for more detail. Makom HaLev, מקום הלב, is Hebrew for Heart Space.
How much does it cost? Go to the rates chart on theregistration pagefor cost details. There you will find that we offer a cost sharing system. The larger the Circle the lower the tuition per each family. Additionally, we offer incentives for referring new families. Do ask us about those discounts.
How are you responding to COVID 19 During the pandemic we have transitioned all our learning to Zoom. While learning by video conference deprives us of the benefits unique to education in physical space, such as hands on group projects and tactile interactions, to our surprise, we discovered that Zoom learning has its unique advantages too. Zoom learning helps some students better focus, and allows for creative lessons with input from distant resources. Moving forward our curriculum will include a hybrid approach of Zoom and physical gatherings (if and when permitted by ease in the pandemic conditions).