By Charlie Breitrose, cnc.com
In an effort to make learning more fun and in an effort to increase the number of students attending its Hebrew school, the Chabad Center of Natick, MA will incorporate the arts in its education programs.
Students ages 5 to 13 learn the Hebrew language, Jewish scripture — the Torah — and Jewish culture in the classes. The Chabad Center’s program will try to make these subjects more appealing to youths by working in art, drama and music with the traditional lessons, said Chanie Fogelman, director of the Hebrew school.
“In education, there is a new trend, and I’d say our Hebrew school is on the cutting edge,” Fogelman said. “We are looking at a holistic approach, rather than just looking at it through books.”
The Chabad Center has many members from Natick but it serves Jewish community of the whole MetroWest, Fogelman said.
Many adults Fogelman has spoken to say they have negative associations of Hebrew school from their youth. Many say it was not fun and that it added more homework. Because the lessons come on top of the normal class work children must do during the week Fogelman wanted to make the classes more appealing.
“(The children’s) primary school is their school they attend Monday through Friday, and Hebrew school is held on Sunday or in the evenings or both,” Fogelman said. “They have already done their siting and studying and, putting yourself in the shoes of a young student, it is hard to come back and do more sitting and studying.”
Fogelman is attending a course at the Danforth Museum of Art in Framingham to learn more about mixing art into lessons for other subjects. In addition, the Chabad Center hired a music teacher, Melody Michaelson, to work with students on a drama component of the Hebrew school.
“The drama teacher is a professional, she’s taking the Torah stories, also doing with that, some real theatrics, activities and will build up stage presentation for the students,” Fogelman said.
She envisions similar approaches using the fine arts by bringing in professional artists to do workshops using art in their regular lessons.
“The style is very hands on to make a connection and make it relevant, so the students are not just (going to Hebrew school) for parents,” Fogelman said.
Fogelman hopes using these different types of techniques will make the lessons stick in student’s minds.
“With the drama and art we are incorporating, you take a subject and break it into discussions and have more feedback,” Fogelman said. “You get it to really resonate with them, so they feel it is relevant and they enjoy it and makes it worth their while.”
Classes run from 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Sundays. This week, there will be an open house for parents and students at the Chabad Center, 159 Boden Lane, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
For more information go to the Chabad Center Web site, www.chabadnatick.com, or contact Fogelman at [email protected] or at 508-650-1499.