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August 2, 2013     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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August 2, 2013

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PAGE 6B HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 2, 2013 00IOJ'C places Jewish values, knowledge, commtmity at heart of its education program The Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation, at 11200 S. Apopka-Vineland Road, is two miles from Downtown Disney and next door to the Jack and Lee Rosen JCC south campus. OJC and its Religious School have been leading Jewish education in South Orlando since 1991. "Our school has been a stalwart of excellence in Judaic education," says Cantor Doug Ramsay, the synagogue's school direc- tor. "We have had years of consistent and qualified leadership at our religious school, which is evidenced by a honed cuttriculum, a professional teaching staff and happy, prepared stu- dents." The school boasts a qualified teacher for each grade level, Pre-K through seventh, as well as a new high school class taught by Rabbi Hillel Skolnik. The school also offers dedicated Hebrew reading tutors. All grades (PK-7) meet on from 9 a.m. to noon Sun- days, and third through seventh grades also meet from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. The high school class with Skolnik will only convene during the Wednesday sessions. Students in all grades learn Hebrew, Torah, Jew- ish holidays, customs, community, ethics and what it means to be Jewish. Students having difficulty with their Hebrew reading are identified early and are given extra attention every week. "Perhaps as impor- tant as gaining Judaic knowledge, the students also have a chance to in- teract with other Jewish children in a caring, nur- turing environment," says Ramsay. Students in all grades also learn liturgical prayers and Jewish songs from Ramsay, as well as from the entire staff. Ramsay has been involved in SOJC's religious school daily operations since 1997. "Our students develop a high level of comfort with Jewish religious practices and prayer," says Ramsay. "By the time our students reach the age of bar or bat mitzvah, everyone in our congregational family is kvelling, and visitors mar- vel over how our capable young people lead services, read Torah, chant Haftarot, and deliver insightful davar Torah. Better yet, our stu- dents continue to do these things even after their bar or bat mitzvah through our Cantorial Corps, Ch- alutzim, Kadima and USY youth groups. All this is a result of the love and commitment to Judaism that they have developed during their fulfilling and rewarding religious school experience." SOJC youth programs are, "coming off of another very successful year. We are looking to expand our award-winning programs," says Brett Spector, one of the youth organizers. These programs are filled with loads of excitement, laughs and fun, which ac- cording to Youth Director Risa Sikora, "that's what it's all about. This is where you will make amazing memories and lifelong friendships! You'll defi- nitely want to be a part of SOJUSY!" The Youth groups hold monthly events both on and off cam- pus, run joint programs with other chapters, and play an active role in sub- regional and regional con- ventions and events. "USY and Kadima are wonderful youth organizations that allow you to have fun while you explore and practice Judaism with your peers," says Shana Medel, the youth coordinator. Skolnik adds, "It is clear that our Religious School forms the foundation for the incredibly family friendly atmosphere that we have at SOJC. Our children cheer when we announce the start of Religious School classes and ask to participate in our services. It is an amaz- ing thing to witness and a privilege to be a part of." Ramsay sums up by say- ing, "Here at SOJC, we see our children as the guaran- tors of our Covenant with God. They are the future of that Covenant and our responsibility to their edu- cation is an awesome one." For more information, visit the SOJC website at or email education director Cantor Doug Ramsay at princi- Registration materials can be down- loaded from the website. Registration day is from 10 a.m.-noon Sunday Aug. 18 with Open House Meet the Teachers from 11 a.m.- noon. Classes begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday Aug. 21. Temple Israel Religious School For education to be most effective there needs to be a union of accurate material with positive emotion. Temple Israel is implementing a unique plan to achieve this mix of knowledge and passion. Rabbi Joshua Neely, who has been with the congregation since 2010, has been asked to be the Rav Beit HaSefer, the principal of the school. This will bring many benefits to the school and help it build on its solid foundation. As the only Central Florida school accredited by the Conservative Movement of Judaism as meeting their Framework of Excellence, Temple Israel has a record of meeting objective mea- sures of providing a solid curriculum. The students of the Meitin Religious School receive a solid education that covers history, classic Torah learning, mitzvah skills, Hebrew, Israel stud- ies and more. Its graduates routinely continue to lead services and read Torah as well as participate in other activities. Since Temple Israel classes are intimate, the students have a chance to express themselves and explore their Jewish heritage and identity. There is always time for every question from every student. This warm learning environ- ment helps instill a lifelong curiosity and security in their place in Judaism in ways A great place to learn "When I decided to become a rabbi, it was because I wanted to share the wonders of our faith with everyone, young and old," he said. "Working to share our school together with our great staff, volunteers and families gives us a chance to make a special environment for our kids." This restructure is also designed to bring the school and the rest of the synagogue even closer together. Neely will also continue that go beyond the mastery of synagogue skills. Thanks to generous financial sup- port, students come from all walks of life and no one is ever denied his/her portion of the great inheritance of our people. With Neely's appointment, students will have daily and personal access to their rabbi in addition to their teachers. Neely has been working with each class to bring his exper- tise to each student. to personally tutor each bar/ bat mitzvah student. "I have a much deeper connection to each of them as they go through this journey now that I have seen them grow week by week at school. Of course, it means I have to come tip with new jokes more often," he said. More details on the new staff and program changes can be found on the Temple Israel website, www.tiflorida. org. A pro New to Temple Israel? Inquire about our gift of your child's first year's tuition. Temple Israel's Meitin Religious School From ancient shofar blasts to cutting-edge tablet technology, Temple Israel offers your child a complete and modern educational experience. Cathy Swerdlow Congregational Life Coordinator Opening Day Sunday, August 18, 2013 Starting at 9:00 am Rabbi Joshua Neely Principal Building Community Since 1954 50 South Moss Road .Winter Springs, FLo32708 407-647-3055 Check us out! The QR code will take you to the religious school section of our website!