Being a three-synagogue based school, there are many advantages Ohr Chadash has that are lacking with other after-school religious programs. Perhaps the greatest asset is that our children are beneficiaries of the wisdom of not one, not two, but three rabbis. Each Wednesday our students have had the joy of learning from either Rabbi Manes Kogan of Hillcrest Jewish Center, Rabbi David Wise of Hollis Hills Jewish Center, or Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin of Israel Center of Conservative Judaism.
The rabbis would divide their Wednesday hour into three twenty-minute segments. Initially, they would begin with tefillah (prayer). All classes, Aleph through Hey, would gather in the chapel and the guest rabbi would either discuss a prayer that was a personal favorite or perhaps a prayer especially relevant to an upcoming holiday or to the time of year. Each discussion reflected the attending rabbi’s personal views, and although each rabbi is affiliated with the modern Conservative movement, their approaches varied and the children were never bored because each learning session would bear that particular rabbi’s style.
In the second session, a portion of the classes remained and the fine nuances of the Parashat haShavuah would be discussed. The rabbis geared the subject matter to the age group in attendance so that the concepts taught could be easily grasped and fully appreciated. Even when Beresheit (Genesis) and Shemot (Exodus) were concluded, the rabbis painstakingly sought out an aspect in the latter Torah books that would appeal to the youngsters and to which both the rabbis and the children could relate.
A school favorite, Ask The Rabbis, would conclude the Wednesday afternoon study. Our children would pose thought-provoking queries to the rabbis, which often would give them pause and compel them to access not only the recesses of their accumulated knowledge, but also additional resources from other scholars. The children worked hard to try and stump the rabbis, and if they were able to stymie one of our clergy, rest assured it was only a momentary phenomenon. However, the majority of the time the questions posed were purely attempts to find answers to subjects that might have perturbed them or to garner more in-depth information on topics which interested them.
Both our students and our rabbis have immensely enjoyed our Wednesdays with the Rabbis. Collectively, our clergy have declared that their hour with the Ohr Chadash students is “one of the highlights of their week.” We are very appreciative that our rabbis make the special effort to instill a joy and love of Judaism in our children which will last a lifetime and which will encourage them to pass this devotion on to their descendants.
We wish everyone a safe and restful summer and we look forward to sharing the new school year with our clergy, beginning on Sunday, September 11th, at Hillcrest Jewish Center.