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What makes the Steinmetz Family School of Chai unique?
Our Judaics Curriculum includes the Union for Reform Judaism’s Chai Curriculum. Students have the opportunity to learn in an interactive and fun environment. This curriculum offers teachers 27 lessons broken into three categories: Torah, Avodah (Prayer), and G’milut Hasidim (Acts of Loving Kindness). Our talented faculty supplement this curriculum with other fun and educational activities, thus adding even more creative ways for children to learn at the Steinmetz Family School of Chai through such modalities as singing, acting, cooking, and creating artistic projects.
Our Ivrit (Hebrew) Curriculum allows our students the opportunity to learn Hebrew in a prayer-based curriculum. Computer-based lessons are an additional supplement to the classroom learning. Students are introduced to the aleph bet letters and sounds beginning in Kindergarten, as studies show that foreign languages are absorbed easier at a young age. Modern Hebrew is infused with prayer-book Hebrew so students will make further connections with our language.
• Camp Chai
The Steinmetz Family School of Chai offers a unique concept in experiential learning which we call Camp Chai. We offer different specialty classes such as: Arts and Crafts, Jewish Cooking, Drama, Music, Israeli Dance and Storytelling. All of these activities will be infused with a Jewish touch and should be enjoyed by all who participate
• Prayer Studies
Students have weekly T’filah Jam with Cantor Jacqueline Rawiszer which allows our students to learn the tunes, choreography and words of our Services in a fun and “ruach” filled setting. Additionally, our students learn prayers within their Hebrew and Judaics studies.
• Mishpacha Days:
Family learning is an integral component of our program. Each grade has a special day of parent and child learning about a specific topic of Judaism and specifically the values of Reform Judaism. Our highly regarded program includes parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles! Special time is also given to adults to reflect on the topic with clergy.
• School-wide special events:
Many special events also take place throughout the year including shofar-sounding and Torah covers changing for Rosh Hashanah, Purim carnival, art shows, field days, student performances, and other holiday celebrations. Students are also highly engaged in the giving of tzedakah and other social action projects throughout the year. Each year, there is a special theme which is reflected throughout the year in each class.
• Project-based learning is infused throughout the classes to provide an additional sense of community as well as an avenue for deeper and more critical thinking. Our 5th & 6th grade book of middot that they compiled from their interviews with our older and wiser CRJ members was a great collaborative project!
• Bar/Bat Mitzvah
At the Congregation of Reform Judaism, we believe that it is a privilege for a student to become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah once they have learned what it means to be a member of the Jewish community and once they have developed the skills necessary to be an active participant in that community. For this reason, it is the policy of the congregation and school that students have a minimum of four years of Jewish and Hebrew education, at our school or another school, before becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
Our Bar/Bat Mitzvah program begins a year before the child's Bar/Bat Mitzvah and at that time, they enter the Chevrutah class. The curriculum for this class focuses on the meaning and structure of the worship service as well as skills needed for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. When the pre-bar/bat mitzvah enters Chevrutah, he or she will also begin working one-on-one with a tutor and have individual meetings with the Rabbi and Cantor.
This year is an exciting and intensive year for our families, but well worth the effort when after months of hard work and practice, the child is able to confidently lead the congregation in worship.
• YEP (Youth Engagement Program):
The newest CRJ Teen initiative called “YEP” engages teens from post b’nai mitzvah through 12th grade. YEP keeps our teens connected to CRJ and to their Judaism through high interest, engaging, and critical thinking opportunities in the form of 4-week Hot Topic sessions, online choices, and social action projects. Teens earn points for all Jewish experience that they select in the following areas: Education, GORFTY/OAFTY, BBYO, Jewish camp, Jewish travel, Worship, Community programs for Tikkun Olam or other educational programs such as Beit Hamidrash, and Cups with Clergy. Jewish camps, Conventions/Kallot, Jewish Travel/ Israel Trips, Choir Participation, Madrichim will all earn credits. Points go toward trips with clergy and other activities.
• Youth Groups: CRJ offers youth groups for middle school and high school ages. Our NFTY youth group GORFTY for our high school teens offers engaging programming and leadership development opportunities. Our middle
school youth group OAFTY offers fun and engaging activities. Both youth groups include opportunities for attending conventions with other NFTY groups.
About the Director of Education:
Sheryl R. Sacharoff became Director of Education at The Steinmetz Family School of Chai in 2009 after previously holding several other roles within the school as well as in lay leadership in the synagogue. She has been in the field of education for more than 35 years and has taught on all levels including middle school, high school and college. Previous roles have included educational director of a residential program for at-risk adolescents, teacher of special needs students in an inner-city public school, and Modern Hebrew I and II instructor at Rollins College. Sheryl has also taught several courses in adult education at Congregation of Reform Judaism.
Her passion is in helping children to become creative and critical thinkers who are self-confident and caring individuals. She has a Doctorate in Education from Nova Southeastern University. Sheryl is a member of the National Association of Temple Educators. She is married to Dr. Alex Sacharoff, a past President of CRJ, and they have two sons, Justin and Cory
Sheryl Sacharoff, Ed.D
Director of Education