Program and Philosophy:
In the 21st century, we know that Jewish learning is a holistic and integrated part of Jewish living. We know that our students have three thousand years of Jewish information at their fingertips through any of their devices. Yet, even with all this information, it is easy to feel isolated and alone. We want to focus on building community and offer Jewish learning with an emphasis on values and not just content, on community both in and out of the synagogue building. Our primary goal is for all our youth to be inspired to joyfully deepen their relationships to Judaism and the community by engaging their souls, hearts, and minds. The name of our Youth Learning and Engagement Program is Gan HaLimud, colloquially called The Gan, which means “Garden of Learning.” This term speaks to how we help our learners bloom and blossom, and it certainly connects to our Pacific Northwest landscape. Sometimes the word “HaGan” refers to the Garden of Eden. Here at Temple Beth Am, we use the term in our own distinct way—to remind ourselves we are all responsible for cultivating the garden of learning.
On Sundays, students will engage in peer-to-peer relationship building, establishing long lasting connections through intensive time, project based learning, and experiential education lead by Faculty and Madrichim. These joyful experiences will help our students strengthen their relationships to Judaism and the skills to live Jewishly. Our Midweek Learning Tracks are opportunities for students to engage in interestbased connections with others. For grades 4-6, tracks will emphasize lifecycle and b’nai mitzvah experiences through a variety of Jewish lenses. The focus of each track will be impacted by student interests. Then, as students continue through our program, Midweek classes are about shared Jewish interests, connecting with a variety of subjects, and building the bonds that last a lifetime.
Experiential Education can include center-based and project-based learning, but at its core it is a student-centered approach to learning that is based upon student’s voice and choice, and relationship building, rather than a content delivery approach to education. This creates relevance and engages students directly in deciding how and who they learn with best. Students are not broken into individual classrooms. Instead, teacher teams construct various “centers,” which help teach the same content from multiple modalities. In relationship with trusted mentors, the students pick which centers to experience, based upon what best fits their learning approach. A center-based learning, small group approach also allows students to get more one-on-one attention from both teachers and Madrichim.
Relevancy is essential to 21st century learning and is a key focus of The Gan’s curriculum. The Gan’s curriculum flips the traditional model of Jewish learning. Rather than teaching values through content (for example, learning about Joshua teaches us about courage), we will teach content through a focus on values (such as starting with an essential question like “when did you need courage” then teaching students about Joshua’s story.) Our Curriculum Team created a structure of 13 values that build on each other as students grow. The values, taught at the developmentally appropriate level, are the vehicle through which we weave and teach essential Jewish content, such as holidays, history, life cycles, prayers, and more. The Gan will also utilize project-based learning which will incorporate Jewish values and material into multi-week relevant projects, as well as social-emotional learning that focuses on the students’ growth as a person, not just the mastery of content and information.
We seek to utilize new and different tools to create a holistic and dynamic approach to learning Hebrew. All of our students have opportunities to explore the aleph bet and Hebrew words and phrases that are an important part of our life-cycle events, community, and heritage. Using a combination of learning strategies, reading, songs, storytelling, games and more, students begin to construct and practice their Hebrew vocabulary, developing meaning and understanding that they will build upon each year. PK-2 utilizes adaptations from Hebrew through Movement, while 3rd-7th uses various personalized adaptations of decoding methods we have customized at Temple Beth Am to fit our students needs.
Days, Times & Cost:
Tuition only covers 60% of The Gan’s costs. Our largest expense is the phenomenal teachers and mentors working with our children, which does not change regardless of whether we are virtual or in-person. Although all members help contribute to the cost of The Gan through their Annual Financial Commitment to Temple Beth Am (dues), tuition is essential to support this program. To better reflect the cost of The Gan, this year we have also included the cost of retreats and youth activities (grades 4-12) in tuition, and we have phased out our B’nai Mitzvah fees. Any B’nai Mitzvah fees your family has paid before this date will automatically be converted into a tax-deductible contribution to Temple Beth Am. Scholarships are available upon request as we want all young people to have access to Jewish learning and community. For grades PK-3 the cost has decreased, grades 4-12 have had a slight increase. PK-3: $860 4-7: $1500 8-12: $1130
The Gan meets on Sundays from 9:30 AM-12:00 PM for all students & Madrichim grades Pre-K through 12.
Midweek classes take place on Wednesdays from 6:30-8:00 PM for 7th & 8th graders and 9th-12th graders.
Midweek classes take place on Thursdays from 5-6:30 PM for 4th-6th graders.
In addition to these class times, there will be opportunities to attend retreats and grade level trips.
To see our full 2022-23 schedule for The Gan, click here!
Supporting every student’s learning is still and always will be a priority at Temple Beth Am. We will be working closely with our Faculty and Madrichim to create a successful approach to learning, with an emphasis on the social emotional learning needs of our students. As a Jewish Values and relationship-based program, The Gan does not have specific content-based expectations for students. This alleviates the need for many traditional accommodations. We welcome an open dialogue with any parent who has guidance, concerns, or recommendations.
PK-7th Grade Students (Sundays):
The Gan begins in Pre-Kindergarten for students who have turned 4 years old in September of 2022. The program on Sundays includes grades PK-8. The Midweek classes are for our grade 4-12 students.
4th-12th Grade Students (Midweek Classes):
Our Madrichim Program begins in grade 8 with our Madrichim Internship Year. This first year in our program will teach our Madrichim the leadership skills that they will need to thrive as mentors, role models, and change makers in our community. Upon completion of this Internship year, students are eligible to apply to become one of the Madrichim. For more information regarding the Madrichim Program and Teen Leadership Opportunities in The Gan, please visit the Youth Learning Website.
Yes, all teens who participate in our Madrichim program must be enrolled in The Gan.
Participating in the Madrichim program is one of the most enriching experiences a teen can have. Our Madrichim program builds essential skills of resiliency, kindness, understanding, and relational literacy that last a lifetime! It is not only a great first job, it is a holistic learning and leadership experience.
First Year Madrichim Interns are volunteers. Madrichim who have completed the Internship year are eligible to be paid or they can remain volunteers. The Madrichim are considered to be part of The Gan Faculty team and subject to professional expectations.
Trips and Retreats:
All enrolled students in grades 4-12 will be able to participate in one Shabbatonim/Weekend Retreat as part of the tuition of The Gan. Any member students who are not enrolled in The Gan, but who would like to participate in a Shabbaton/Weekend Retreat will have an opportunity to sign up and pay a registration fee.
For retreat dates, click here.
Our 10th Grade Covenenat Renewal students will have an opportunity to participate in The RAC’s L’Taken program in February of 2023 in Washington D.C.. This amazing weekend features the unique opportunity for our 10th grade teens to join hundreds of other Reform Jewish Teens from across the U.S. to lobby staff on Capitol Hill about an issue that they care about. For more information about L’Taken, please visit The RAC L’Taken FAQ. The cost of this trip is not fully covered by tuition, however we are working on ways to subsidize the cost of registration, hotel and airfare to make it affordable for all families.
For L’Taken dates, click here.
We will be offering the New York trip to our 11th and 12th grade students this spring (see our calendar for details). The cost of this trip is not fully covered by tuition, however we are working on ways to subsidize the cost of registration, hotel and airfare to make it affordable for all families.
For NYC trip dates, click here.
COVID Safety Protocols:
Food will both be allowed and provided by Temple Beth Am on Sundays. We recognize that 2.5 hours is a substantial period of time to go without food for many young people. Part of The Gan experience is relationship building and learning while sharing a nosh or meal with your peers. Prepackaged snacks that meet a variety of health and dietary needs will be provided to all students while supervised, in small group rotations, outdoors and while seated.
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