Aleph Bet Hebrew Instruction Program

Frequently Asked Questions

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Click here to download the Aleph Bet Presentation for 2nd and 3rd Grade Families

Click here to download the Aleph Bet Presentation for 4th - 6th Grade Families

1. What is changing about our model of Hebrew learning?

Our new Hebrew model represents a change in the way we teach and learn Hebrew at Beth Torah. Our current model focuses on the printed letter and moves from print to sound. None of us learned our native language this way. Instead, people spoke to us and then we began to speak. Only after speaking, did we begin to read. Our new model focuses on Hebrew sounds first (with “Hebrew Through Movement” on Sundays) and then moves to Hebrew letters (in our Aleph Bet Program). Moving from sound to print is the way Hebrew speakers learn. This sound to print model will give our students years of exposure to Hebrew sounds and vocabulary, before the pressures of reading set in. We dream of our community feeling a visceral connection to the sounds of Hebrew, the sounds of our Jewish spiritual lives, the Hebrew prayers, the Hebrew Bible, and the chain of our tradition.

2. What is our Aleph Bet Program?

Our Aleph Bet Program is a joint venture between CBT and HBHA. Our students will receive private tutoring from an HBHA approved tutor for nine months during their 6th grade year. Upon graduation from the program, students will be prepared to read t’filot from Mishkan T’filah and begin an additional nine months of B’nai Mitzvah training. The Aleph Bet Program will be managed by HBHA and will be offered to the students of CBT. Shira Zigler, on behalf of HBHA, will act as Program Director and will handle all of the day-to-day operations of the program.

3. What is the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA)?

Established in 1966, HBHA is Kansas City’s only Jewish community day school. HBHA offers an exemplary general and Jewish education to students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. HBHA celebrates the strength of pluralism and the power of diversity, while challenging students to think critically, creatively and independently. HBHA is located at the Jewish Community Center on the Sprint Campus in Overland Park.

4. Why are we changing our Keshet Program?

There are four main reasons driving this change:

  

A)    Improved Hebrew literacy. Sound to print learning will help all of our Hebrew learners to enter their B’nai Mitzvah preparation with greater confidence and comfort. Hebrew phonemes will be easier to master, because children will be exposed to them early and regularly.

B)    Addressing Keshet scheduling conflicts. One-third of Keshet aged students currently opt for private tutoring (opting out of Wednesday’s Keshet program). More families are finding it difficult to attend the Wednesday late afternoon Keshet program. Aleph Bet offers flexibility in session training. The HBHA tutors meet on your schedule!

C)    Financial Considerations. One reason the Weiner Religious School has been so successful, and received NATE accreditation, is our history of innovation and evolution. The current Keshet program model is running at a deficit. By partnering with HBHA we are helping to close the financial gap, while also enhancing Hebrew learning.

D)    NATE Accreditation Recommendation. Read about this recommendation from NATE and its implications for our Aleph Bet Program in #9 below.


5. How will we maintain the sense of community built in Keshet?

Students will still be together on Sunday mornings, as in the past. Our 4th, 5th and 6th grade mitzvah clubs will continue, as long as you support them. Our TWYG program will continue, as long as you support it. Our B’nai Mitzvah Family Groups will continue to form at each Pick-A-Date meeting (approximately 20 months before a Bar/Bat Mitzvah date). We will continue to support family socials, havurot, ice cream onegs, and we are open to new ideas to further strengthen the sense of community for this age group. Meanwhile, the fun continues at every community gathering, whether it is Erev Sukkot, the Chili Cook Off, or Saturday morning worship. Bring your children, bring yourselves. Community starts with you showing up.

In the formal Hebrew structure, as in Keshet, we will maintain and increase our celebratory Read-In nights. Students engaged in our Aleph Bet Program will be invited to show off their Hebrew readings skills in the ulam and enjoy popcorn, prizes, and worship on a quarterly basis. Read-Ins are planned for Wednesday afternoons, between 5:00-6:15 p.m. The 2014-2015 planned dates are September 10, 2014; November 19, 2014; February 25, 2015; and May 13, 2015.

6. When does the Aleph Bet Program start?

Aleph Bet starts on June 1, 2014. Our Keshet program will conclude with this year’s Field Day and will not reopen for the 2014-2015 school year. Our 4th through 6th grade students will be phased into our Aleph Bet program per the below table in #8.

7. How does this new Hebrew program affect our current PreK-3rd grade students? What are the student costs?

In the 2014-2015 school year, our students will enjoy an active and interactive Hebrew curriculum called “Hebrew Through Movement” with a Hebrew Specialist as a part of our Sunday School curriculum. Just like they have music or library each week, the Hebrew Specialist will be visiting their classrooms every week to play Hebrew games and bring special spoken Hebrew activities to our students. This program will give our students years of exposure to Hebrew sounds and vocabulary (in addition to the Hebrew used in worship and other locations of exposure to Hebrew in the synagogue, at home or even in Israel), before the pressures of reading set in. We dream of our community feeling a visceral connection to the sounds of Hebrew, the sounds of our Jewish spiritual lives, the Hebrew prayers, the Hebrew Bible, and the chain of our tradition. This feeling of connection starts with exposure to Hebrew and regular use of Hebrew.

Sunday morning is the start of this process of moving from Hebrew sounds to printed Hebrew. The Aleph Bet one-to-one “Let’s Learn Hebrew Side-by-Side” program (in lieu of Wednesday Keshet) begins, not in the 4th grade, but approximately 18 months prior to your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah date. Some students may be in 5th grade and others may be in 6th grade. While Sunday School only runs during the school year, Aleph Bet runs year-round. A table comparing the 2013-2014 costs of our Hebrew Program and the 2014-2015 cost structure for PreK-6th grades is below (RS=Sunday Religious School, AB=Aleph Bet, BM=B’nai Mitzvah):

Grade


2013-2014


Hebrew Program


2013-2014


Costs


2014-2015 Hebrew Program


2014-2015 Costs


Difference in Cost to Families


New Total


PreK


 


RS $210


Sunday Hebrew Specialist


RS $210


$0


$210


K


 


RS $420


Sunday Hebrew Specialist


RS $420


$0


$420


1


 


RS $420


Sunday Hebrew Specialist


RS $420


$0


$420


2


 


RS $420


Sunday Hebrew Specialist


RS $420


$0


$420


3


Intro Hebrew on Sunday


RS $420


Sunday Hebrew Specialist


RS $420


$0


$420


4


Keshet on Wednesday


RS $420


+ Keshet $420 =$840


Sunday Hebrew Specialist


RS $420


($420)


$420


5


Keshet on Wednesday


RS $420


+ Keshet $420 =$840


Aleph Bet Program & Sunday Hebrew Specialist


RS $420 to CBT and AB $1260 tuition + $50 materials to HBHA =$1730


($420) to CBT + $1310 to HBHA


= $890


$1730


6


Keshet on Wednesday


RS $420


+ Keshet $420 + BM $750 =$1590


Aleph Bet Program


RS $420


+ BM $750 =$1170


($420)


$1170


Cumulative Total


 


$5160


 


$5210


$50


$5210


Currently, our Keshet students pay $420 per school year for 3 years (4th through 6th grade) for a total of $1,260. Under Aleph Bet, families will continue to pay $1,260 plus an additional $50 (for a full and non-transliterated copy of Mishkan T’filah, other materials and an on-line subscription cost), for a total of $1,310. The $1,310 will be due during the 9-month Aleph Bet Program. There is a $50 difference in the total cost between our Keshet and Aleph Bet programs.

Families will not have to pay the current $840 fees for their students during the 4th and 5th or 6th grades. The total Aleph Bet Program costs are due during the 9-month program period, which may fall partly during a student’s 5th grade year and partly in his/her 6th grade year.

Aleph Bet payment arrangements will be made between HBHA and our families. Families can discuss upfront, quarterly, or monthly payment options with HBHA.

Please note that the B’nai Mitzvah fees that are currently in place do not change with the Aleph Bet Program.

The 7th-10th grade TAG and Confirmation Program fees do not change with the Aleph Bet Program (see #12).

8. How does this affect our current Keshet students (4th-6th grade)?

Our current 4th through 6th grade students are being phased into our Aleph Bet program, so the costs of this program are being prorated for our incoming 5th and 6th graders (see table below). This schedule will avoid overlap and duplicate fees.

2013-2014 Grade


2013-2014


Keshet Program


Aleph Bet Program beginning in June 2014


2014-2016 Aleph Bet Costs


4th

Attends at least 20 of 28 sessions of Wednesday Keshet

Will participate for 6 months, beginning 15 months prior to B’nai Mitzvah date

$840 + optional $15 materials fee

5th

Attends at least 20 of 28 sessions of Wednesday Keshet

Will participate for 3 months, beginning 12 months prior to B’nai Mitzvah date

$420 + optional $15 materials fee

6th

Attends at least 20 of 28 sessions of Wednesday Keshet

Participation in Project Aleph Bet prior to 9 months of B’nai Mitzvah tutoring is optional

Optional

 Aleph Bet payment arrangements will be made between HBHA and our families. Families can discuss upfront, quarterly, or monthly payment options with HBHA.

Please note that the B’nai Mitzvah fees that are currently in place do not change with the Aleph Bet Program.

The 7th-10th grade TAG and Confirmation Program fees do not change with the Aleph Bet Program (see #12).

9. Why are we partnering with HBHA?

Our NATE Accreditation report came with both commendations and recommendations.  In the recommendations, NATE states: “Restructure Hebrew School configuration and curriculum immediately, based on current student population.  Explore the possibility of identifying community partners.” We have identified HBHA as the ideal community partner for this element of our new Hebrew model.  HBHA is the only Jewish private school in our metro area. They offer a unique Jewish education that yields outstanding results. Particularly, through one-to-one tutoring, each tutor will be able to tailor lessons to the individual student.  This personalized attention goes beyond what even the best teachers can provide in a classroom setting. We are excited to be in partnership with HBHA.  The congregation that was first to be NATE accredited in our metro area is now the first to be in partnership with HBHA for our Aleph Bet Program – another first!

10.  What are the qualifications of the HBHA tutors?

A majority of the HBHA tutors are members of the full-time Hebrew faculty of HBHA. Some tutors are native Hebrew speakers and all are experienced Hebrew educators. In addition to members of the HBHA faculty, we expect several of our current Keshet teachers to join our HBHA tutor faculty.

11.  Are our Sunday school and TAG programs changing?

Our Sunday school program will change for PreK through 5th grade students with the addition of our Hebrew Specialist joining their classes each week for a session of “Hebrew Through Movement.”  Our 6th graders will experience a greater emphasis on service structure and enjoy the addition of new opportunities to lead prayers. Our whole school community will benefit from additional activities to help maintain our sense of community and the friendships between our students.

With our growing curricular focus on not only the words and language of Jewish prayers, but Jewish ways of praying and spirituality, we plan to introduce a Jewish Spirituality course option in our TAG program.

12.  What if I am in need of financial assistance?

As is our current policy, we do not turn families away from education based on affordability issues. Please contact Robin O’Bryan and she will forward your request anonymously to our Membership Commitment Adjustment Committee for review. As is our current policy, all such requests are confidential and no names are connected with requests that the Committee reviews.