Central Synagogue’s commitment to Jewish learning and values permeates daily life in the Nursery School and is a focal point of our curriculum and our children’s experiences.
Enrichment is provided by Amy Martin, our Judaic Specialist, and we offer a three-fold approach. Children learn about Shabbat, the cycle of Jewish holidays throughout the year, and Jewish values, with particular emphasis on tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedakah (righteousness, often referred to as charity), hachnasat orchim (welcoming guests), and g’milut chasadim (acts of kindness).
As children learn about these and other Jewish values, they come to understand that even at their young age, they can make a difference through their words and actions. They develop a dawning awareness that they have the power to create change—from repurposing and recycling materials that we collect in our school’s recycling center, Curiosity Central, to feeding the hungry and homeless, to embracing and embodying the concepts central to social justice.
Every Friday, the entire school comes together in Beir Chapel for Shabbat B’yachad (Shabbat Together). Led by a member of our Clergy, the children welcome Shabbat as a community with song, prayer, and blessings, preceded or followed by individual celebrations in each classroom. Parents take turns coming to school to join in their children’s classroom Shabbat observance and accompany their children to Shabbat B’yachad on that day as well, a truly special Shabbat experience for parents and children alike.
Our children learn about Jewish holidays through meaningful interactive experiences that help bring Judaism to life. Children learn the stories of the holidays and then reenact the stories in the dramatic play area, in the block corner, or even at the sand table. Books are read, holiday songs are sung, and ritual objects and symbols of the holidays are explored and discussed. And of course, cooking is also a part of in-school celebrations. All of our teachers thoughtfully teach the children in their classes about Jewish life in a dynamic, exciting, and authentic way.
We celebrate with a Chanukah party in each class, seders for both Tu Bishvat (a celebration of trees in Judaism) and Passover, a Purim parade, and a special celebration for Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day), including building our very own version of the Western Wall.
Jewish values are at the core of our program, and it is our goal to help children understand them in tangible ways.
Children and families in the Nursery School participate in Central Synagogue's tzedakah sandwich-making initiative for the homeless, taking part in the monthly rotation of volunteers who make and bag sandwiches.
Each class also collects money for tzedakah throughout the year. At the end of the school year, the children in each class, with the help of their teachers, choose organizations that hold meaning for them to which they donate the money that they have collected.
Children learn the meaning of tikkun olam through an environmentally sensitive approach to the materials we use for creative expression. Our special Curiosity Central space houses recyclable materials and found objects of all kinds that are collected by teachers, parents, children, and Central Synagogue staff members for the children to use in their projects, sparking open-ended exploration and resulting in truly unique creations. Children also learn about taking care of the environment through our nature and gardening program, in which children plant seeds—often vegetables—and provide them with nourishment and care until they are ready to be harvested and eaten.
Throughout the year, when guests visit our classrooms, children learn the importance of hachnasat orchim, welcoming guests, as they graciously welcome parents who come for Shabbat; Clergy members who visit to tell a story, sing, and play with the children or celebrate a special holiday; and a wonderful group of synagogue members and staff who participate in our Nursery School reading program, volunteering their time to read aloud to the children in all of our Nursery School classes.
And of course, every day in every classroom we encourage children to treat their classmates and others with kindness, as they learn the meaning of g'milut chasadim, acts of loving kindness.
Through our rich Jewish curriculum, children connect with and embrace Judaism in a way that is joyful and meaningful to them.