Beit Sefer: AARC’s Jewish Religious School

The AARC’s Beit Sefer is an Ann Arbor Jewish religious school providing an innovative and engaging education for K-7th graders, focusing on Jewish values and ethics, history, diversity, prayer, and Hebrew language. Emphasizing critical inquiry and self-expression, our school uses a project-based learning approach to stimulate students’ creativity and involvement in Jewish community.

Ann Arbor Jewish religious school, 2014

Beit Sefer, 2014

Reconstructionist Jewish education is dedicated to intellectually honest inquiry combined with knowledge of our tradition and commitment to the continuity of the Jewish people. We believe this happens best in a caring, challenging, and supportive learning environment. We teach students to actively participate in the evolution of Jewish religious culture.

Classes are held at the Jewish Community Center on Sundays mornings, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m., from September through May.

To enroll your child in Beit Sefer, use this page.

Our Jewish Religious School Curriculum

Our students learn in three multi-age classrooms. The youngest class, the Ketanim (“little ones”) — K through 1st or 2nd grades — focuses on Torah stories, mitzvot, and learning the Hebrew aleph-bet (alphabet). Emphasis is also placed on creativity, joy in learning and forming friendships in community.

The middle class, the Yeladim (“children”) — middle-elementary school-age — will focus on Jewish time, the yearly cycle of holidays and the cycle of life rituals. The Hebrew curriculum continues using basic prayer vocabulary, poetry, song and movement to encourage a comfortable familiarity with the language.
The oldest class, the Gedolim (“big ones”) — upper-elementary up to bar / bat mitzvah age — centers on Jewish space: our homes; communities around the world, including Israel; and houses of prayer. The students will learn about the development of Jewish civilization in diverse localities and about ethical dilemmas we face as individuals and communities. The students will continue Hebrew including mastery of prayers and beginning conversational Hebrew.
Madrichim (“Guides”) Program. High School students interested in helping out their younger compatriots can also serve as helpers in the Beit Sefer.

Those interested should contact Director Clare Kinberg for more information.

Our School and Community. Community is a cherished value at the Reconstructionist Congregation. We actively seek to involve the student in congregational activities including active roles in services and holiday celebrations. Beit Sefer students who attend Kabbalat Shabbat (Friday night) services typically sit at an informal “kid’s table” during the post-service pot-luck, adjourning early to go play games (supervised) while their parents schmooze. It isn’t unusual for the parents to have to beg their children to go home at the end of the night! We also encourage congregation members to visit the classroom on occasion, contributing their stories or wisdom. Throughout the school year we hold multi-generational learning programs where youth and their parents as well as other adults study together or in parallel themed programs.
Who can enroll? The Beit Sefer welcomes children of both member and non-member families. The school offers tuition discounts to Congregation members and families enrolling more than one child. Our school year runs from September through May.

Here’s a brochure about our Beit Sefer:Beit_Sefer_Brochure_June22_2015-COLOR
View/download the brochure

Here are some questions parents considering enrolling their child in AARC’s Beit Sefer frequently have:

When and where does your religious school meet?

The AARC Beit Sefer meets on Sundays from 9:30 to 11:30; from September through May.  Classes are held in the Ann Arbor Jewish Community Center2935 Birch Hollow Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

Who are the teachers?

The Beit Sefer’s director is Clare Kinberg. There are three teachers, with wide experience–Sharon Alvandi, Shlomit Cohen, and Jeremy Goodman. They are assisted by enthusiastic teen members of our congregation, madrichim.  More info on all of them here.

Does your religious school accept children of non-members?

We’d like every family whose children attend our Beit Sefer to be members of the AARC, but we recognize that may not be possible in individual circumstances. So we don’t require membership as a condition of enrolling children into the religious school.

Because the Congregation subsidizes the school’s operation with money from our members’ dues, we ask non-member children to pay tuition that reflects the actual cost of operating the school, rather than the subsidized amount paid by members’ children.

How much is tuition?

Because the AARC subsidizes Beit Sefer, tuition is less for congregation members:

  • Members: $730/year first child; $630/year second child
  • Nonmembers: $890/year

Payment options include:

(1) Full payment by September 10, 2017 (first day of school)

(2) Two payments:

  • First tuition payment due by September 10, 2017 (first day of school)
    Members: $360 for first child; $310 for second child
    Nonmembers: $440
  • Remaining tuition is due by January 7, 2018 (First day of 2nd Semester)
    Members: $365 for first child; $315 for second child
    Nonmembers: $445

For issues of financial hardship/tuition reduction, please contact AARC’s treasurer.

How can I get more information?

For more information about the AARC Beit Sefer, contact Director Clare Kinberg.

When and how can I sign my child up?

If you possibly can, we’d appreciate it if you would sign your child up for Beit Sefer before August 15.  But in any event, please sign up before the first day of school.  If you miss this deadline, contact Clare Kinberg.

Sign up online here. Instructions on paying tuition online or by check are also there.

Here’s an article (from the Washtenaw Jewish News) about our Beit Sefer:

Beit-Sefer-in-WJN(2)