In an effort to continue providing students in the Santa Clarita Valley with educational resources, Temple Beth Ami is offering a free Hebrew school program with an innovative hybrid model.
“We were working on implementing a hybrid model anyways, but this situation obviously sped everything up,” Rabbi Mark Blazer said. “We’re using some models that have already been in operation for others across the country, so I think we really came up with a good program.”
The idea for a hybrid model came as the synagogue wanted to adapt a program around the busy schedules of young people, allowing flexibility in when and where studies were conducted, Blazer said.
That being said, the program came at a perfect time when in-person classes have been halted.
“With the current times, we have to be a little bit more creative and think outside the box,” said Jennifer Twitchell, education director for Temple Beth Ami. “Our education committee was trying to come up with ways to take the school out of it and the fun back into it, because after spending six hours in school, spending another two hours in a Hebrew school did not seem like something the kids wanted to do, so we came up with a hybrid format.”
The program will give students a week to complete Hebrew and Judaic studies lessons online, and while Hebrew will be a bit more structured, each Judaica lesson will be targeted at each student’s specific interests, with weekly 30-minute online sessions with their teachers.
In addition, when in-person activities are allowed to resume, students will be able to join in monthly Sunday programs, which are designed to be more family-based.
“We wanted to involve our community more, so what we decided to do was have it once a month for families … (with) parent workshops that will take place while the kids are in elective classes,” Twitchell added.
The program will allow those in the community with special skills to teach both parents and students about health, parenting or Jewish cooking, for example.
“There’s so many things and activities that take place outside of a textbook and outside of reading around a table, and that’s what I am so proud of with this program,” Twitchell said. “I’m just very excited to be able to work with such a great team of people to bring this to our kids.”
“One of the things that’s so special about this is that we have had some really generous donors that have allowed us to offer this program for free to any child,” Blazer added.
The program is expected to begin in late August and go through the school year, though anyone can join at any time. An informational Zoom meeting is scheduled Aug. 16, with more information expected to be provided on the program’s details. For more information, contact Twitchell at [email protected].