One of our proudest partnerships from the last few years is our ongoing joint Sunday School, B3 (B’nai Emunah-Beth Israel-Judea B’Yachad). B3 classes include students from both congregations (as well as other families) to create an engaging and meaningful experience for all.
I’ve always loved learning, so no one was terribly surprised when I decided to become a teacher. Much more surprising, especially to my parents, was when I decided to help teach Sunday School (“Why would a teacher want to teach on their day off?”). I never received any formal Jewish education growing up– which, based on stories I’ve heard from friends and family, might actually be a good thing, if only because I’ve come into it without any preconceptions.
Some people might shy away from teaching Sunday School, especially to Middle-Schoolers. After all, once they’ve had their bar or bat mitzvah, won’t it be a struggle to keep them coming back? My approach to this “problem” has been simple: show them Jewish stuff is interesting!
Over the past two years, we’ve explored Jewish concepts such as prayer, ethics, tikkun olam, the Jewish view of evil and demons, ahavat israel, the Jewish idea of the messiah and the historicity and rituals of Hanukkah and Passover, Jewish folklore such as Talmudic midrash and kabbalistic legends, Jewish history and current events such as Holocaust remembrance in Europe and Israel, the Jewish role in Civil Rights past and present, and the limits of political free speech in American and Israeli elections, and Jewish films such as Hava Nagila, A Life Apart, Among the Righteous, Punk Jews, and Hiding and Seeking. This year we are also looking at many smaller Jewish communities around the world such as in Uganda, Kenya and China. Like I always tell my students, “I’m doing this for fun!”
Starting this week, I will be sharing some of the topics from our class on the BE blog. Hopefully you’ll find something that sparks your interest!
Andrew Nusbaum is the B’nai Emunah Treasurer and teaches the 8th-10th grade class at B3.