Gesher (the Hebrew word for bridge) is designed to help our B’nai Mitzvah students bridge the gap from being 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 Gesher curriculum explores the themes of peoplehood, identity, sexuality and relationships, leadership, spirituality, and religious pluralism through a Jewish lens. Gesher also explores social issues including religious pluralism, mental health, technology safety, and healthy friendship. 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.
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 seventh graders spend studying to become B’nai Mitzvah outside of class, Gesher meets slightly less often than Beit Sefer.