Temple Beth-El of Great Neck and Temple Israel of Great Neck have partnered to form a shared religious school called Kulanu, which means “all of us” in Hebrew. Under the direction of Rabbi Amy Roth, director of Congregational Schools, and Avi Siegel, director of the Waxman Hebrew High School and Youth Engagement, our students and families have the opportunity to experience the vitality and synergy of our joint religious school community.
Through our visionary community-school model, Temple Beth-El stands committed to the best of Reform Judaism, always working to:
Temple Beth-El’s commitment to tikkun olam through social action is an integral part of our students’ learning experience.
Temple Beth-El’s clergy are active participants in our students’ Jewish education, teaching in regular classroom settings, leading tefilah services and training all grades levels in the beauty of chanting Torah trope. We expect our students to be prayer leaders at Shabbat services and during home ritual.
As our TBE students approach bar and bat mitzvah, we increase and enlarge their engagement at TBE. Our sixth graders (and their parents) participate in monthly programs at Beth-El, including our meaningful annual retreat. The curriculum is designed to help students and their families focus on the powerful life event awaiting them. Seventh graders are taught by TBE clergy. The program develops a student’s prayer skills and increases his/her confidence in leading on the bimah. We also wrestle with the challenging issues of identity, so important at this point in our students’ lives.
Through action and advocacy, our teens learn to change the world. We encourage them to participate in the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), either virtually due to the pandemic or by visiting elected representatives in Washington, DC.
We stress the importance of continuing learning post bar and bat mitzvah. Confirmation, at the conclusion of 10th grade, and Graduation celebrate our teens as they transition to adulthood.
In 1990, the late Monsignor Thomas Hartman, popularly known as one-half of the “God Squad,” and Roger Tilles, past president of Temple Beth-El, created Project Understanding, a program for Catholic and Jewish youth. Each year a group of Catholic and Jewish 11th graders, recommended for selection by their congregations and teachers, engage in a series of interfaith activities designed to promote understanding and respect for their similarities and differences. The highlight is an extraordinary trip to Israel, usually during school vacation in February, with leaders from the Catholic and Jewish communities.
Those who have participated in Project Understanding have had only the highest praise for the program, saying that they have developed a depth of understanding that would otherwise have been unattainable. They have formed lasting friendships and their lives have been forever changed for the better.
One or two 11th grade students from Temple Beth-El are typically among those chosen each year. Learn more about Project Understanding here.