Kerem Shalom offers a dynamic, once-per-week Hebrew School program that empowers our students to find their own path to an authentic relationship with their Jewish heritage and identity.
Kerem Shalom is committed to making our programs accessible to all members of the community, including our Hebrew School programs. We continuously work to support the diverse learning styles of all our students, and we strive to offer individualized attention to students who require specific learning accommodations. CLICK HERE for more on Kerem Shalom’s mission of inclusion.
CLICK HERE for the Youth Learning Calendar
OUR UNIFIED CURRICULUM
Growing up at Kerem Shalom is a dynamic process of growth and discovery, and every moment a young person engages in Jewish life is part of that journey. To guide our young people’s continual learning, we have set curricular elements that unite all our reimagined youth experiences at Kerem Shalom.
CLICK HERE to learn more about Hebrew School Reimagined’s Unified Curriculum.
KS YOUTH EXPERIENCES LEARNING PILLANS
We strive to build a culture centered on:
Community; Joy; Dignity of Every Person; Learning by Doing; Our Own Paths; Spirituality.
CLICK HERE to learn more about our Learning Pillars!
Holiday Preschool and Kindergarten
Jewish Learning in Early Childhood
We bring people of every age and stage of life into Jewish learning, starting right away! Our Holiday Preschool and Kindergarten at Kerem Shalom are the perfect way for young children and their families to experience a taste of ongoing Jewish learning. These monthly gatherings are led by our beloved longtime teacher Abbe Smerling, and they include hands-on explorations of Jewish stories, holidays, and values. Children create art projects, sing songs, and share snacks based around the monthly theme— and they come away with joyful memories of Jewish learning that will last for years.
Schedule – 5782 (2021-2022)
Sunday Mornings at Kerem Shalom
Holiday Preschool (ages 3-5) – 9:45 am-10:45 am
Kindergarten (ages 5-6) – 11:15 am-12:15 pm
Meeting Dates: September 19 ; October 24 ; November 14 ; December 12 ; January 23 ; February 13; March 13; April 10 ; May 1
CLICK HERE for the full Youth Learning Calendar
Plus: Tot Shabbat!
Once a month, we gather with our young children and their families for a Tot Shabbat celebration—and you’re invited! Celebrate Shabbat with songs, stories, and plenty of movement. Tot Shabbat gatherings are joyful, spiritual, and meaningful for adults and children alike. For more information or to sign up for the next Tot Shabbat, contact Nancy Kaplan at
Hebrew School Reimagined (Gr. 1-6)
Kerem Shalom’s newly redesigned learning experience for children in grades 1-6.
HSR meets on Mondays, 4:15-6:15 pm, at Kerem Shalom.
CLICK HERE for the full Youth Learning Calendar
• HSR: A New Kind of Hebrew School
Hebrew School Reimagined (HSR) promotes relationship-building, encourages hands-on learning, and empowers children to define their own learning journey and develop their own sense of meaning in Judaism. HSR enriches children and families’ wholistic experience of Jewish life in the Kerem Shalom community, and it nurtures a foundation for a lifetime of meaningful Judaism.
• Centering Joy and Connection
HSR amplifies what is special about Kerem Shalom for our children. Every day begins with music and mindfulness for the whole community, joyful Judaism is integral to all we do. Most activities are conducted in multi-grade cohorts, so children (and their parents/guardians!) in HSR get to know others at their own life stage while also feeling a sense of belonging to the whole Kerem Shalom community.
• Learning by Doing
Experiential education is at the core of HSR learning activities. In practice, this means we don’t just study prayers, we pray them and discuss their meaning; we don’t just hear Jewish stories, we create art with them; we don’t just learn about the holidays, we celebrate them together; we don’t just mention Jewish values, we do experiments that bring them to life. By “doing Jewish,” we discover what Judaism means for us—and we build “muscle memory” for a lifetime of meaningful Jewish living.
• Reinvigorating Hebrew Education
Learning Hebrew in HSR is also grounded in experiential education. We utilize Hebrew Through Movement, a kinesthetic mode of sound-to-print learning, and we teach prayers through authentic prayer services. We also use intentionally chosen Hebrew words during our day, so learners appreciate Hebrew as a living language. Additionally, grades 5-6 get One-On-One Hebrew (online practice with flexible scheduling), where they learn to read Hebrew in a low-stress, individualized environment.
• Empowering Students and Families
Learners at Kerem Shalom are in charge of their own learning, and we encourage every child to develop their own forms of Jewish expression. HSR students in grades 3-6 get special elective choices where they explore Judaism through modalities such as drama, STEM, music, and more. Each year, families are empowered to choose from a variety of Family Adventures and Workshops, when children and adults learn by doing, together.
Frequently Asked Questions
CLICK HERE for FAQ’s
Weekly evening sessions, with dinner, where students explore the wisdom Judaism offers for this transitional moment in their lives. Uses the Moving Traditions B’nai Mitzvah Curriculum, and includes occasional family workshops. Pre-teens also complete a values-based mitzvah project, supported by our staff, which they present at an end-of-year Shabbat service.
Simultaneously, students prepare for their own b’nai mitzvah services with the KS clergy and tutors. Peers are strongly encouraged to participate in one another’s services, serving as ushers and receiving aliyot (the honor of blessing before/after the Torah reading, for those who have already become b’nai mitzvah).
All b’nai mitzvah students are expected to complete the 7th-grade year of weekly evening sessions, even after they have celebrated becoming b’nai mitzvah.
Our Holiday Preschool and Kindergarten programs are open to the general public and do not require Kerem Shalom membership. Family membership in Kerem Shalom is required for Hebrew School Reimagined (grades 1-6) and for the 7th Grade Cohort. Members must be in good standing (fully paid for last year, membership renewed for this year) to complete registration. To confirm your membership status, or to become a member, please contact our synagogue administrator ().
Holiday Preschool and Kindergarten: $200 ($150 for Kerem Shalom members)
Hebrew School Reimagined (Grades 1-6): $300
7th Grade Cohort: $250
OUR COMMITMENT TO AFFORDABILITY
Kerem Shalom is committed to ensuring that every child and family who wants to be part of our community and our learning experiences is able to do so, regardless of financial situation. To meet that goal, our youth learning experiences are funded by the congregational community, and the fees we ask at registration exist to help us cover administrative and materials costs. These fees are independent of other fees associated with Kerem Shalom membership. To schedule a confidential conversation regarding your particular situation, or to request an abatement, please contact Rabbi Sam ().
Our dedicated staff has years of teaching experience and a commitment to professional development. In addition to faculty workshops and peer observations, our staff participates in many types of professional development including research for Better Teaching and programs through Combined Jewish Philanthropies Education Initiative. Our staff has the same commitment to growing and learning that we have for our children.
Rabbi Sam Pollak
Director of Congregational Learning
Rabbi Sam Pollak joined Kerem Shalom in July 2020. He received a BA in philosophy and comparative religion, at The Ohio State University, where he held leadership positions at Hillel and sang in a Jewish a cappella group. He attended Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion where he received a MA in Hebrew Letters and was ordained as a rabbi in 2017.
He most recently served for three years as one of the rabbis at The Community Synagogue in Port Washington, New York, where his responsibilities included teaching religious school classes and Torah study; leading early childhood classes; establishing an adult education initiative; creating a group to guide interfaith families; serving on a newly formed inclusion committee; and officiating life cycle events. During his rabbinical studies, Sam worked at a number of small congregations in the Midwest.
“I am thrilled to join the Kerem Shalom community, and I am inspired by how the congregation and the Hebrew School emphasize joyful, inclusive Jewish life,” shares Rabbi Sam. “I look forward to meeting everyone and working toward that vision together.
He was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is moving to the Greater Boston area with his husband, Rabbi Ari Abelman, who grew up in Lexington, MA.
Family Engagement Specialist
Nancy Kaplan joined Kerem Shalom as a member in 1999 and as Family Educator in 2002, after a year of teaching in KS’s school. She loves to create and hold the space for joyful, vivid Jewish experiences for children and families. Her passion is to help families do meaningful work that has an impact on the life of the community and the world.
Nancy leads KS’s Tot Shabbat services and partners with Rabbi Sam on Family Programs. She is the Hebrew School Reimagined music educator, teaches the Social Action and Sacred Jewish Music curricula during the b’nai mitzvah year, and oversees KS’s annual community-wide Mitzvah Day One. Nancy is the pianist in KS’s Mostly Music Ensemble. Pre-pandemic she led KS’s monthly TELEM teen volunteer program at Household Goods.
Before moving to MA, Nancy was a religious educator in Rapid City, SD’s Synagogue of the Hills. Jewish Family Education is Nancy’s second career. She holds a Masters in Medical and Biological Illustration from the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Biology from Tufts University. She received a certificate in Jewish Family Education from Hebrew College.
Nancy and her husband, George, live in Acton, MA. They are blessed with two daughters and one son-in-law.