The Winds of Change at Temple Habonim


To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. –Winston Churchill

Families and congregants often ask me “so what do you do in the summer?” They suggest long beach-filled days and relaxing nights. While I have been getting some rest and relaxation, the Education Team at Temple Habonim spent the summer learning, growing and strategizing how we could accommodate the needs of our families while keeping the strength of our foundation intact.

Led by a select group of lay leaders, we carefully assembled a list of questions to better know the needs and current climate of the school. The results showed that while more than 80 percent of our families were happy with the school overall, there were specific ways in which to help our families, while continuing our high level of learning and engagement in the temple. 

Based on the results from the survey, we are piloting a system that allows for more flexibility in a family’s scheduling. There will be increased options for Hebrew School sessions with the hope that our families will be able to find multiple entry points to meet their spiritual and educational needs.  

We now will be grouping students by Hebrew level, allowing for families to choose the session that best fits their needs (either Session I: Sunday 12:15-1:30 p.m.; Session II: Wednesday 3:40-4:55 p.m., or Session III: Wednesday 5-6:15 p.m.). 

We will be adding another hour to the Kindergarten day, which will now be dismissing with the rest of the school at noon. This will allow increased bonding and learning time for the students; it will also respond to the parents’ desires to have kindergartners end their day at the same time as their older children.  

We have adopted a standardized curriculum in both Sunday Religious School and Hebrew School as well. It is our hope that all families will understand what happens in each grade so as to strengthen the connection between home life and temple life. For more information about our new program, please come to the Shape our School presentation on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 11 a.m.

We have reassessed the goals for B’nai Mitzvah and beyond, piloting a Chai School program that focuses on Mussar from the adolescent viewpoint. We will incorporate learning about Jewish lifecycle events and explore why Judaism seems to be more relevant to some based on their life circumstances. For the first time in several years, this program will allow 11th- and 12th-grade students to engage in study sessions and add their maturing voices to the mix.

We look forward to exploring our 5778 school theme of bal tashchit (do not destroy) and curriculum themes of Torah, Avodah (showing devotion) and G’milut Chasadim (deeds of loving-kindness) with you on opening day, Sept. 17 at 9:30 a.m.

DAVID PEROLMAN is education director and songleader at Temple Habonim in Barrington.