by Rebecca Goodman Olshansky Education Committee, Temple Emanuel of Greater New Haven
The children and teachers at Temple Emanuel Religious School have not let the COVID-19 pandemic get in the way of their learning; the school has had almost 100% attendance week after week. Principal Olga Markus and Rabbi Michael Farbman have kept their interest alive, even when the children are looking at their classroom through a computer monitor. Thanks also goes to the middle and high school teens who acted as teaching assistants (madrichim) and to the students themselves, who never seem to grow tired of learning.
Although the students are participating remotely, no one misses any of the material that is vital to youngsters as they learn Hebrew and Jewish history, and begin work on their bar and bat mitzvahs. Our synagogue uses a specific method of teaching — known as Mitkadem — which allows each student to learn at his/her own pace.
Asephah is a communal start to Sunday mornings for students and their parents, during which Rabbi Farbman teaches important lessons. His stories and songs, usually accompanied by his guitar, illustrate morals and ideas people of all ages need to learn. The feeling of coming together as a community has been maintained on Zoom. On Wednesdays, the communal T’filah sets the tone for the day, bringing students together so they feel connected to one another and are ready to learn. Since the students are learning remotely, parents have the opportunity to see and hear how well their children are doing.
Janet Adams, one of the teachers, commented about the challenges inherent in virtual instruction. “We had to re-think, re-plan and re-fashion all our lessons to fit the virtual platform. The exciting part was to see how eager the kids were, even a year later, to continue to learn and be part of their religious school community.”
Learn about Temple Emanuel’s religious school at tegnh.org, (203)397-3000 or firstname.lastname@example.org