Religious School


Temple Israel of the City of New York is a spiritual community dedicated to the value of Lifelong Learning. Our goal is for all members of the synagogue to be actively involved in Torah study leading to greater Jewish knowledge and deeper Jewish involvement. Temple Israel’s Religious School offers toddlers through high school seniors a distinctive opportunity to learn about their Jewish heritage, to explore and expand their Judaic knowledge, and to strengthen their Jewish identity.

Our central task at the Religious School is to build a positive Jewish identity, self-image and commitment. Our goal is to provide the highest quality Jewish education in a warm and enriching environment. We strive to promote the growth and development of each child and to form a strong identification with the Jewish people and the Jewish community. We accomplish this through a commitment to cultivating a dynamic, effective and diverse teaching staff made up of experienced teachers.

Through the study of Jewish history, customs, rituals, mitzvot, ethics, values, and current events about Israel and Jews throughout the world, our children learn to appreciate our people, to develop a sense of personal and communal responsibility and to realize the relevance of Jewish teaching to their daily lives. Hebrew is taught for the study of Torah and prayer, as a modern living language of our people and is reinforced by the children’s participation in the Shabbat services and holiday celebrations.

The core of the Judaica content of Religious School is the ShalomLearning curriculum, used in 1st through 6th grades. Anchored by Jewish values, students explore the relevance of these values to their modern lives, along the way looking at Torah, history, lifecycle, and more. Hebrew is introduced as early at Kindergarten, as students begin to develop a familiarity with the letters and sounds of Hebrew language. Ultimately they learn the prayers that they will lead upon being called to the Torah as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Our curriculum is enhanced by the use of music, drama, storytelling, art, dance, and field trips, and family programs.

Appropriate ways for parents to participate in their child’s education, both within the classroom setting and through Family Education, is central to our mission. Our school year is filled with special events that translate Jewish learning into joyful opportunities for Jewish celebration and growth.

As a progressive synagogue affiliated with the Union of Reform Judaism, we are committed to a pluralistic, freedom-centered Jewish life. All Jews, regardless of their background, are invited to be part of our community. We encourage Jewish growth honoring the individual choices and personal decisions that all Jews are free to make in their lives. At Temple Israel, there is no one way to be Jewish and we encourage each individual Jew to find their own unique connection with Jewish tradition. We are uniquely sensitive and accommodating to the modern Jewish family especially the needs of interfaith families, blended families, and two-working parent families. The synagogue is renowned for its outreach activities. Our Religious School program promotes and supports this approach to Jewish life and living.

We have a dynamic education program that is especially effective in creating an opportunity for our children and their families to celebrate a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at our synagogue that is a positive Jewish experience and a wonderful family celebration. We are also committed to the retention of our children beyond Bar/Bat Mitzvah through our clergy taught Academy and Junior Academy programs, youth groups, and Jewish overnight camping.

Key elements of Temple Israel’s Educational Program

  • Weekly Tefillah (Prayer) and Music with our Artist-in-Residence.
  • ShalomLearning Curriculum – A multi-year, values-based curriculum that explores the connections between ancient values and modern lives.
  • Hebrew Through Movement – An immersive and experiential exploration of the Hebrew language, students learn by doing!
  • Hebrew Prayer Study – Working at their own pace and guided by a teacher, students work in chavruta (small groups), mastering their skills in reading and understanding the prayers found in the prayer book.
  • Monthly Family Education Programs – These programs offer a unique opportunity for intergenerational study!
  • Trips – Beginning in 7th grade, students have the opportunity to bond with one another and make the world their classroom as we travel around NYC, to the American South, and even to Europe and Israel!
  • Special events including unique worship services, guest speakers, movies, etc.
  • Youth groups: YETI (Youth Engagement at Temple Israel) for high schoolers, 7th/8th grade youth group, and the 56ers (5th & 6th grades).

Currently, there is no online registration for Religious School. For a form, or for any questions about the program, please contact one of the following people:

Rabbi Melissa Buyer-Witman, RJE – Director of Lifelong Learning
CONTACT FOR: Special educational needs, discussing a child’s prolonged absence, welfare, confidential matters, curriculum information.

Barry Shainker – Religious School Assistant Director
646-292-9476 (direct line)
CONTACT FOR: Curriculum information, special educational needs, Hebrew, trips, TiLearn, Academy (teen) programs.

Audrey Silverman – Lifelong Learning Coordinator
CONTACT FOR: General information, updating child’s details, warning of a child’s absence, registration forms, class assignments.

Laura Schultze – Youth Director
CONTACT FOR: Youth Groups