Teen Education

With more than 10 unique programs, and a full-time Director of Youth Engagement, Beth Emet is at the cutting edge of youth education and programming in synagogue life.

At Beth Emet we are committed to providing post-Kabbalat Mitzvah education that encourages belonging and connections as well as deep engagement with questions and Jewish sources.

Our three youth groups span 4th through 12th grade and offer opportunities that complement our formal educational programs. Our high school and middle school youth groups are directed by boards of students, giving them a chance to be real leaders in the community.

Each of our teen classes encourage students to explore Judaism, while thinking critically about their own roles and responsibilities in the world.

We approach social justice as an important lifelong mitzvah and aim to build skills to make a difference in the world.

7th grade Gesher students learn to identify Jewish values in their lives and to use those values as they make choices in a world with expanding decisions.

In 8th grade, Mitzvah Corps teaches about the root causes of social inequalities and ways teenagers can help make change and Madrichim in Training gets 8th graders ready to be classroom helpers when they get into high school.

9th and 10th grades build their civic engagement toolboxes in Chavayah, while 11th grade Talmidim (students) participate in self-directed group study on Israel.

Finally, 12th grade Kabbalat Torah participants study theology with Rabbi London. In addition to action, students who participate in our teen classes develop a love for and commitment to Judaism, a strong sense of self and community, and the ability to speak thoughtfully on questions of God, Torah and Israel.

Our Philosophy

To facilitate programs that inspire authentic engagement with Judaism and Jewish practice, to build the skills for leadership and social change, and to provide a safe and responsive program that meets students and teens where they are in their lives and helps them to grow as Jews and thoughtful people.

Teen Programs

When: Thursdays 4:15-6:15 pm and two Sundays a month from 10:30 am-12:00 pm

Gesher (the Hebrew word for bridge) is designed to bridge the growth of our 7th grade students from children in the Jewish community to being adults.

Our students spend this year advancing their understanding of Judaism as a religion, community, and culture as they begin the next stage of their Jewish identities.

The goal of Gesher, in short, is to help students identify their values and ways to live accordingly — an important skill at an age full of change. The Gesher curriculum explores the themes of peoplehood, identity, sexuality and relationships, leadership, spirituality, and religious pluralism through a Jewish lens. Gesher is an environment that nurtures conversation. That’s why we spend this time exploring social issues including religious pluralism, mental health, technology safety, and healthy friendships.

A significant portion of the year is dedicated to learning and discussing issues relating to relationships, their bodies, and sex and sexuality in a safe and non-judgmental environment. Trained educators help facilitate age-appropriate learning and growth that goes beyond what is included in a public school’s education to more fully explore the spiritual and emotional elements involved in these issues. Utilizing lessons from the Our Whole Lives curriculum together with original content developed by Beth Emet educators, students are prepared to make thoughtful and informed choices as young Jews.

We believe that seventh grade is a critical year in the development of identity both Jewish and otherwise. The Gesher program helps students and parents navigate what can be a challenging experience in a way that promotes the love of Judaism, a sense of community, and healthy relationships.

*To accommodate for the time 7th graders spend studying for their Kabbalat Mitzvah outside of class, Gesher meets slightly less often than Beit Sefer.

Mitzvah Corps meets two Sundays a Month
Madrichim in Training meets 5 Sunday afternon throughout the year. 

8th grade at Beth Emet has several different components, all geared towards developing leadership skills and fostering a sense of community, especially after many students have just completed their Kabbalat Mitzvah.

The 8th grade at Beth Emet’s focuses on the development of leadership skills and recognizing the meaning of having a sense of community. This happens in two different ways: The Mitzvah Corps and Madrichim in Training.

The Mitzvah Corps program teaches Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) as an important, necessary, and authentic Jewish response to the challenges facing our society; recognizing our actions, choices, and speech as opportunities to express Jewish values. Mitzvah Corps meets twice each month, both in classroom sessions and site visits at local social service agencies. Through this hands-on approach, Mitzvah Corps students will analyze the root causes of social justice issues, gain an understanding of how systemic inequities are connected, and discuss constructive responses to build a more just future.

The Madrichim in Training program is an elective for students who wish to become Madrichim (teaching assistants) in a Beit Sefer classroom as high school students. Through lessons with trained childhood educators and visiting Beit Sefer classrooms, Madrichim in Training achieve the skills necessary to facilitate learning in synagogue classrooms, sure to travel with students into high school and beyond. Leadership skills unlocked!

When: Sundays at 12:15 pm-1:45 pm twice a month

Chavayah, Hebrew for “experience” focuses on youth empowerment and offers a self-directed and engaging approach to Jewish learning for our 9th and 10th grade students. Chavayah equips young adults with the tools they need to continue the development of their Jewish identities through a diverse collection of learning opportunities. Chavayah features two components: Core Curriculum (monthly lessons on a common theme), and Chuggim (experience learning electives).

Core Curriculum sessions focus on one social justice topic for each year, giving students the tools to become more civically engaged. Past themes have included criminal justice, climate justice, immigration, and racial justice. Chavayah students learn not only from synagogue educators but from talented community members across a broad spectrum of subjects such as social justice and Jewish creativity. The Chavayah experience gives students a stronger breadth of knowledge as well as a wider consciousness of how their Jewish values might inform other activities they enjoy.

Chuggim sessions encourage intrinsic motivation for Jewish learning and allows for creativity to thrive. With scheduling flexibility, Chuggim curriculum experiences have ranged from Sephardic cooking classes, seeing Steppenwolf plays, and compiling a Passover Hagaddah. While all teens attend core curriculum sessions, students choose the Chuggim that best matches their interests, creating a class schedule that responds to their unique curiosities and empowers them to take their own educational liberties.

When: Sundays at 12:15 pm-1:30 pm once a month

A talmid is a student, a budding scholar, and this is what we encourage our 11th graders to be.

Recognizing the advanced level of critical thinking skills that these students use in school and in viewing the world, we offer an opportunity to apply these skills to the analysis of Jewish history and events happening in Israel and Palestine today. Talmidim is taught by Marci Dickman.

When: Wednesday evenings in the second semester

Kabbalat Torah is the equivalent of confirmation at Beth Emet and is led by Rabbi London.

This program focuses on Jewish thought and theology to guide students as they create a philosophy of life and consider how Jewish teachings and the Jewish community can be an integral part of their lives as they leave home and become adults.

The teens travel to New York City with Rabbi London to explore more about their Jewish heritage (and to have a little fun.)

A supportive and close-knit environment for students in grades 9 through 12.

Following the Lunar Hebrew calendar, Rosh Chodesh, reffering to the first day of each Hebrew month, aims to instill an appreciation for the rhythm of Jewish time.

At monthly meetings, Rosh Chodesh members meet with an adult leader to discuss current events, holidays, and the interaction of their gender identities with the world. The direction of the conversation is guided by the needs of participating teens. Rosh Chodesh at Beth Emet is a gender-inclusive, feminist space.

The Leo Baeck Leadership Corps (Gar’in Leo Baeck) will (1) support outstanding Beth Emet youth who are attending URJ Heller High (the Reform Movement’s high school program in Israel) to develop increased Jewish identity, strong leadership skills, and greater Jewish commitment; and (2) build a community of young Jewish leaders at Beth Emet who, upon returning from Heller High, will make meaningful contributions to Beth Emet and the Jewish community.

Students in Heller High immerse themselves in study and in experiencing the Land of Israel and its cultures and people during the Spring Semester (January – June) or during the Fall Semester (August – December). Students are immersed in Hebrew Language via Ulpan and also attend fully accredited General Studies Courses whose credits transfer to their regular high school back home.

Who can participate in the Leo Baeck Leadership Corps?
The Leo Baeck Leadership Corps is open to students who commit to developing their leadership potential while in Israel and returning to share their skills and experiences at Beth Emet. Participation is open to any eligible Beth Emet high school student.

Where can I get more information about the program, application and selection process?

Contact Bekki Kaplan for more details.