Fostering Jewish identity and creating inter-connectedness among our youth, families and the congregation through Jewish learning and shared experience.
Jewish life today is vastly different from that of a generation ago. Our homes and families have become increasingly diverse and are exploring how to live Judaism in the 21st century, a time in which Jewish identity is continually evolving.
At Beth Ahabah, we provide opportunities for our students and their parents to find Jewish meaning and Jewish connection, through shared experiences, community and family learning. The Family Connection helps Beth Ahabah families grow roots within the Beth Ahabah community and integrate their Jewish lives at home with what students are learning in Religious School and in the synagogue.
There are six components to the Family Connection. While they often overlap, each one has an important role. Click on each section title below for more specific information:
Religious School: The Barbara and William B. Thalhimer, Jr. Religious School works to enhance our children’s knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Judaism from preschool age through the 10th grade. In ways that are appropriate for each child, our curriculum focuses on Jewish identity and values; family, synagogue and community; Shabbat, festivals and holidays; Hebrew and prayer; covenant and commandments; and Jewish peoplehood within the land of Israel. At Congregation Beth Ahabah we believe learning should be experiential and personally meaningful so that our youth are able to live Judaism with a deep sense of pride and belonging.
Teen Program/Midrasha: The teen years are a special focus at Beth Ahabah. The Temple offers multiple ways for teens to be engaged. We combine an exciting program of core classes and electives for students in 8th, 9th and 10th grades with informal education, social activities and social-action events. Congregation Beth Ahabah’s youth group, JeRAFTY, gives 8-12th grade students the opportunity to explore and have fun with other Jewish teens at the Temple and all across the Mid-Atlantic region.
Confirmation Program: Beth Ahabah’s formal Religious School program goes through 10th grade. The last year is called Confirmation. Students completing the year are called Confirmands, and they are honored, or confirmed, at a Shabbat service in May.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program: Becoming a B’nei Mitzvah means accepting the responsibility of being Jewish. This life-cycle event is paramount to one’s Jewish development and a milestone in the Jewish life of the family as a whole. Planning and preparation for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah starts long before the big day! The Bar/Bat Mitzvah page gives you an idea of what is involved in helping students and parents to get ready for developing into a Jewish adult. Bar/Bat Mitzvah is optional for our students.
Family and Informal Programs: The family bond is deepened when everyone in the family participates in an event. A shared Jewish experience strengthens Jewish identity and Jewish family values. Beth Ahabah supports many family-oriented programs where parents and youth can experience Judaism together.
Youth Groups and Summer Camps: A lifelong Jewish identity is created through fun activities and strong friendships as well as a better understanding of Jewish life. The Youth Groups and Summer Camps page has an overview of the many opportunities our three youth groups (Junior Youth Group: 2nd–5th grade; Middle School Youth Group: 6th–8th grade; and Senior Youth Group: 8th–12th grade) provide during the school year. Beth Ahabah also has a wonderful youth choir. Also, studies have shown that Jewish camping and visiting Israel greatly increase a youth’s sense of pride and connection to Judaism, and leads to a greater likeliness of strongly identifying as a Jew in adulthood. Links to Jewish summer camps are found on this page.
Photo: Sara Jane Longstaff.