Temple Sinai Religious School began the 5781 school year fully online in mid-October. As we considered how both to maintain and create a space where Significance, Belonging, and Fun were the top priorities, we also thought about:
- What local and federal regulations were as it relates to COVID-19, and
- What the Temple Sinai COVID Advisory Group suggested and supported as it relates to public health guidance and wisdom to keep our community safe,
- What is developmentally responsive for our TSRS students at all ages, and
- How our programming could best support and strengthen families during this unique time.
We wondered: what is it that children and teens need from their synagogue community during a crisis in the world? Religious education is important, and faith development is a lifelong endeavor, but how a religious community responds to an acute crisis had us asking: how do we create a ‘tiny temple’ for our kids? We knew that in cultivating programing for the 2020-2021 year, we needed to create a space that was a bet midrash (house of learning), but also a bet t’filah (house of prayer) and bet k’nesset (house of gathering).
Our 2nd-10th grade programs have adapted to be responsive to this moment and are enrolled at about 80%. Our traditional Kindergarten and 1st grade programs are meeting this year through periodic “in-a-box” experiences (holidays for K, monthly for 1st grade). These are curated by our educators and supported with prerecorded video and live Zoom content. Most of all, in the spirit of our ‘tiny temple’ for K-12 participants, worship and gathering are interwoven into our programs – in both religious school specific spaces and across Temple Sinai programming. Finally, TSRS continues to strive to support all Temple Sinai families with children in grades K-12 to connect, find meaning and access, and participate in their temple during these ongoing days of distance.
For more information about TSRS as the pandemic persists, visit our online school lobby, and connect to all of our classrooms and learning spaces. It’s a fun place to hang out for a bit – but you’ll need to bring your own coffee. 😊