By Rabbi Yael Romer
“School on the Sabbath”…in some Jewish circles is considered scandalous.
As the Rabbi of Temple Emanuel Kingston and Temple Emanuel Rhinebeck Satellite, I am a spiritual leader who understands the realities of modern Jewish families in the Hudson Valley, and I am convinced that this is the future for, and cutting edge of, American Judaism.
Temple Emanuel, 160 years young, is the thriving Reform Congregation in the Upper Hudson Valley. Our Temple community boasts lively spiritual worship and profound connection to tradition filtered through music and singing. We are the congregation where people dance during services. Our synagogue is filled with children. We are a congregation steeped in learning and committed to social action. Our Rhinebeck satellite activities include weekly Jewish meditation and Torah study, holiday celebration and a monthly Shabbat dinner. Temple Emanuel is a modern egalitarian congregation shaping the future of Judaism.
Religious school on Saturday is part of this vision.
What more could a Jewish congregation hope for on the Sabbath? The doors of the synagogue open wide, people of all ages engage in prayer and learning and community.
Families drawn to our congregation have busy lives but care about their Judaism and want to impart identity and values to their children. Families attending Sunday religious school seldom attend Sabbath worship. But Judaism is not a religion by proxy. Religion cannot be communicated in a classroom without meaningful “observance.” We must support a Jewish reality that speaks to our families and for our future. We are making the Sabbath an exciting vortex of Jewish life.
Beginning this fall, Religious School at Temple Emanuel will be held on Saturday mornings. Additionally, select Saturday afternoons will highlight optional Sabbath activities like “yoga with a Jewish bend,” “jewelry-making with spirit,” and a workshop on “challah and hamentashen baking.” The Sabbath becomes a time for families to maximize their participation together.
On Shabbat mornings, parents can choose to schmooze over bagels or join the adult minyan. As our children study with their teachers, the adults of our community can study with the Rabbi. Religion is shared and passed down through family. Judaism is a religion of doing. To impart identity, we need to actively integrate a Judaism that aligns with our lives and speaks to our modern values.
Religious school on Saturday makes possible Shabbat observance and enables us to model for our children “do what we say AND what we do”: coming together on the Sabbath and establishing Shabbat as a regular rhythm in our life.
Temple Emanuel continues to build the community that we want to be a part of. We invite you to be part of this experience.
For more information, contact Rabbi Romer at www.templeemanuelkingston.org or (845) 338-4271