Our Goal

breastplateThe role of providing an excellent Jewish education for our children can only be fulfilled through the collaborative efforts of our students, teachers and parents. We aim to strengthen the bond between the home and the temple; that bond is essential to the effectiveness of the school. We urge parents to get involved through your cooperation, your support and through your reinforcement of the lessons we teach. Please make sure to mark your calendars with the important dates including the family programs, special events, as well as our Shabbat L’Kulam services for this coming year.

We are supported by the wonderful efforts of our lay leadership, who support us in our continued efforts to provide the most outstanding Jewish education possible for our students. The Education Committee is an essential ingredient to the proper functioning of our school. The committee is always looking for new members. If you would like to serve on the committee, please let us know. We look forward to your participation in the education of our children throughout the year.

The mission of education at Congregation Sha’aray Shalom is:

  • To enable children and adults to affirm and strengthen Jewish identity by promoting the goal of Jewish education within the Reform Movement.
  • To deepen Jewish experience and knowledge in order to strengthen faith in God, love of Torah, and identification with the Jewish people throughout the world.

Goals of the Religious School:

The Religious School program at Congregation Sha’aray Shalom is an integrated program of Hebrew Prayer and Judaic study both on Sunday as well as mid-week. In addition, participation the life of the synagogue community including worship, mitzvah and programming outside of the walls of the congregation are essential elements of our program.

The purpose of our Judaic curriculum is to promote a positive Jewish identity through the study of Jewish beliefs, ideals and history, and the performance of Mitzvot. Our goal is to have students think and act in a Jewish way. The Hebrew curriculum is a Siddur program, designed to enable students to become proficient in reading the Hebrew prayers, and to gain an understanding of both the prayers and the service. Students surpassing these goals will have an opportunity to learn the rudiments of conversational Hebrew.

Religious School

(Preschool through 10th Grade) School Programs Overview

The goal of Congregation Sha’aray Shalom’s Religious and Hebrew school is to imbue our children with the joy of the Jewish tradition and a pride of their Jewish heritage.

Varied educational opportunities for children and their parents abound at Congregation Sha’aray Shalom. With a diverse curriculum including formal classes, informal family programs, class plays, songfests and holiday celebrations, there is something for everyone.

If you are planning to join Congregation Sha’aray Shalom and will be enrolling your child, the brief descriptions of our different programs will help you determine the best placement for your child.

We welcome the opportunity to talk with you about your child and to accommodate any special needs that your child might require to facilitate his/her transition into our program.

Please call the Temple office if you have any questions at (781) 749-8103.

Parent / Tot

The Parent/Tot program is for children from 2-1/2 to 4 years of age. It is specifically designed as a first step in a child’s Jewish education. It takes a low key and hands on approach to introduce a child to Judaic art, music, dance, food, stories and traditions. It is conducted in warm setting with the active involvement parents.


pre schl2

The Pre-School program is designed for children 3-1/2 to 5 years of age who are not enrolled in a kindergarten program outside of the temple. This program is designed to create a fun and interesting environment in which your child will learn about Shabbat, other Jewish holidays and traditions. Music plays an important part in this program.

Religious School Kindergarten through Grade 6

The goals of our Religious School are to provide our students with a good basis and knowledge of Jewish history, customs, prayers, religious holidays, services and practices in an age appropriate manner. In classes, our teachers try to not only explain what we believe and practice but also why.

Hebrew School Aleph through Dalet

Children in grades 3 through 7 are enrolled in Hebrew School, as well as Religious School. Beginning with learning their Aleph- Bet, students learn to read and pronounce Hebrew developing both a traditional and contemporary Hebrew vocabulary. Another goal of our Hebrew school is expose and make our students aware of our local and global Jewish community.

Religious School Grade 7 & Hebrew School – Hay Class

All 7th graders are enrolled in both Hebrew School and Religious School. Besides the continuation of Hebrew and Religious studies, there is a focus in the preparation and understanding of a student becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.


Pre-Confirmation classes for grade 8 and 9 are configured in a trimester configuration. Students select one of several courses for each trimester. Course topics include Jewish Ethics, Holocaust Studies, Jewish Literature and Music.

Confirmation class, grade 10, is also configured in three trimesters. As in Pre-Confirmation there are a variety of topics that can be studied during each individual trimester.

senate pixRAC 2010

Bar / Bat Mitzvah


Bar or Bat Mitzvah means “Son or Daughter of the Commandment”.  When Jewish children reach the age of 13, they are old enough to understand the commandments and be responsible for fulfilling them.  A child, upon becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is included as an adult in the religious life of our people and is now responsible for his or her moral decisions.

The idea of reaching religious maturity is mentioned in the Talmud, but did not become an established practice until the fifteenth century.  At that time the boy became a Bar Mitzvah on the Sabbath after his thirteenth birthday.  The Bar Mitzvah was automatic and nothing was required of the boy.  About 450 years ago the ceremony was added, along with certain requirements.  They were:

  • Being called to read from the Torah and recite the blessings over the Torah.
  • Offering the d’rash (speech,), which showed his Talmudic understanding.
  • Wearing Tefillin and Tallit for the first time.
  • Being present while a special prayer was recited by his father.

In modern times in liberal congregations, women are entitled to access the same mitzvot, as are men.  Therefore, led by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of the Reconstructionist movement, the Bat Mitzvah was created.

At Congregation Sha’aray Shalom, the process of becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah includes learning to read Hebrew from the prayer book, the Torah, and from the Prophets, leading the congregation in a Sabbath service, giving a speech as well as performing a Mitzvah project.  It also means the family has made a commitment to our heritage and to our congregation and that the student has attended Religious School and is familiar with our Jewish traditions.  By deed and word, the student states a commitment to continue on through Confirmation. Becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah assumes the student is ready to declare his or her loyalty to Judaism and to be counted as a member of the Jewish people.

Basic Requirements

Congregation Sha’aray Shalom encourages the children of all Temple members to participate fully in Religious School from Pre-Kindergarten through Confirmation and gives each child the opportunity to become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah anytime after the child’s thirteenth birthday.  Through study in Religious school, your child should have knowledge of the following:

  • The ability to read Hebrew, prayers, and an understanding of the parts that make up the Friday and Saturday services
  • The basic knowledge of Torah
  • The basic knowledge of important figures and events in Jewish history
  • The basic knowledge of Jewish values
  • The basic knowledge of the Jewish holidays and festivals

Bar and Bat Mitzvah Training

Training begins approximately six months prior to the event.  You will be contacted by Cantor Weiss, to make an appointment with your child for ongoing private tutorial sessions.  Lessons normally last approximately 20 minutes.  During these sessions, your child will learn the following:

  • Torah portion – Selected from the Five books of Moses, the portion is chosen corresponding to the date of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.  Your child will learn 12 verses to be chanted with the appropriate trope.
  • Haftarah portion – Taken from the prophetic writings, your child will chant between 3-5 verses, which correspond to the Torah portion for that week.  Several times during the year a special Haftarah is read due to a particular holiday.
  • Service Prayers – Your child will prepare to be the service leader.  Students will lead the service from Mishkan T’filah. This will include preparation of Hebrew as well as English passage.  Students are expected to know the following prayers:

Readers Kaddish – p. 312
Barchu – p.313
Shema – p. 318
V’Ahavta – p. 319
Avot w/Imahot – p. 323-324
Givurot – p. 325
Torah blessings – p. 368
Haftarah blessings – p.372
Blessings over the Candles, Wine, and Challah

“D’var Torah” is the speech presented by the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.  This speech analyzes the portion of the week, and expresses the importance of the day to each individual child. Rabbi Joseph will work with the student and parents on preparation of the D’var Torah.

Candidates for Bar/Bat Mitzvah are required to commit themselves to continued study in our religious school through Confirmation and must make that commitment in the D’var Torah (speech) they deliver within the service.

Though your child will meet with the Cantor on a weekly basis leading up to his or her Bar/Bat Mitzvah, as well as meeting additionally with the Rabbi to write the D’var Torah, in the final analysis, no one can study for the student.  Only the student can do it.  It is recommended that the student study approximately one half hour twice a day leading up to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.  Some students need less; some need more.  This course of study and preparation will be a valuable experience they can use for the rest of their life.

Download the B’nai Mitzvah Handbook

Adult Learning

Congregation Sha’aray Shalom offers various adult education offerings. Participate in courses, view featured films, attend speaker presentations and performances, and join others in a book discussion. There is something for everyone. See the calendar or contact the office for more information. 

Upcoming Events

  1. Mon 24

    CSS Annual Golf Outing

    The Congregation Sha’aray Shalom Golf Outing
    Aug 24 @ 12:00 pm - 8:00 pm

JCC Pre-School