In the shade of Sukkah walls at the Jewish Middle School, students and parents sit face to face, engrossed in lively learning and discussions. It is Hoshana Rabba, the culminating day of Sukkot, traditionally revered as a day dedicated to Torah study. This year, it heralds the beginning of a Parent-Student Learning Program at the Jewish Middle School, an endeavor conceived in the collaborative minds of JMS faculty, spearheaded by Nechemya Rosenfeld.
At a time when education should be recognized as a collective effort, parent-student learning programs are emerging as a tool to build deeper connections between families, schools, and education. These programs provide a wealth of advantages for both parents and students, fostering a strong foundation for lifelong learning. The Jewish Middle School is taking this idea one step further and utilizing it to help parents and students gain a richer understanding of Jewish texts and traditions. These learning opportunities will serve to strengthen the bonds between parents, students, and their heritage.
The genesis of the program came from JMS Jewish Studies teacher and visiting Shaliach, Nechemya Rosenfeld. In thinking about his vision, Rosenfeld explains, “This is fundamentally about bridging generations. Central to Judaism is the act of learning together, narrating our story, and asking questions.”
At the heart of this program lies the chance for parents and children to come together to explore Jewish texts and engage with them in a meaningful way. For Jessica Banish, mom to Lyla in seventh grade, “Embracing the joy of learning and celebrating in the Sukkah with my daughter was a highlight of the high holiday season for me. Thanks to the educators and leadership at JMS, this was a profoundly meaningful space that allowed us to forge deeper connections not only with each other, but also with our extended JMS family.”
By participating in textual learning, parents play a pivotal role in passing down the knowledge that ensures Jewish teachings and heritage are not only preserved, but actively lived. After the success of the first session, plans are already underway for another program on Chanukah. Rosenfeld believes this initiative will become a recurring event and will continue to further the school’s values and mission.