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3 Jewish Lessons for Your Child’s New School Year

3 Jewish Lessons for Your Child’s New School Year

Young child sitting on an adults lap while looking at a laptop screen as if watching videos together

How do we prepare our children for success in a new year of learning?

The start of a new school year always brings with it both excitement and, perhaps, a bit of apprehension. New school supplies, new backpacks, new shoes, and new clothes dominate the retail environment as early as July. You might dispatch the ubiquitous supply list online or at brick-and-mortar stores. You might unlock a parenting badge for completing a mountain of forms. You might set up an Instagram-worthy first-day-of-school photograph.

But how can you, as a parent, also infuse this time with meaning and with the Jewish values that are important to you?

Try the unique stories produced by BimBam. Hosted by ReformJudaism.org, BimBam’s animated videos spark connections to Judaism through compelling and engaging digital storytelling – all directed toward kids, parents, and educators alike.

BimBam has created a vast array of educational videos that are creative, fun, and accessible for learners of every age, with relevant and exciting material that celebrates the digital world we live in and harnesses it to create videos that we want to watch – whether we’re diving into Jewish learning for the first time or consider ourselves lifelong learners.

We worked with Ellen Lefkowitz, early childhood director at Reform synagogue Temple Sinai in Oakland, CA, to identify a few BimBam videos that are particularly appropriate for new beginnings, including the start of the school year.

  1. "The Shehecheyanu Prayer": This age-old Jewish prayer is central to marking times of transition and the start of something new. In an accessible, one-minute animated video, BimBam artfully illustrates both the many different times we traditionally say Shehecheyanu and the times we may each use it in our own lives.
  2. "Welcoming Guests: Hachnasat Orchim": Even the youngest learners are invited to welcome new faces into their classrooms with a warm smile and a friendly greeting. In the first episode of Shaboom!, BimBam’s animated series for young children, two magical characters named Gabi and Rafael teach kids how this important Jewish value applies to friends and family as well as to life at school.
  3. “Get with Giving”: In this episode of Shaboom!, Gabi and Rafi explore two different ways of giving to others, tzedakah and charity. You can delve deeper into these concepts in BimBam’s introductory video for parents, “What Is Jewish About Giving?,” as well as in "Chesed, Tzedakah, Tzedek: What’s the Difference?" (You can also try making a DIY Tzedakah box, if crafts are your jam.)

Watching these videos creates space for you and your children to talk about how they can be good people in the world, inspired by our Jewish values.

As the new school year begins, may every classroom be a sacred space of learning and connection – and may we be inspired by our children and by the holy communities we create together.

Stephanie Fink is the associate director of Engaging Families with Young Children, part of the URJ’s Strengthening Congregations initiative.

Stephanie Fink
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