Frequently Asked Questions, by topic:

  1. BJEP as an Independent Jewish Sunday School
  2. BJEP as a Welcoming Community
  3. BJEP Brandeis University teachers and Madrichim (classroom assistants)
  4. BJEP adapts to remote learning

Section 1:  BJEP as an Independent Jewish Sunday School

What is meant by an “independent” Jewish Sunday School?   By “independent” we mean that we are not affiliated with any particular denomination of Judaism or a with a synagogue. Our families come to BJEP from diverse backgrounds and share a desire to provide a Jewish education for their child(ren). Our program is funded primarily by tuition, as well as by donations and grants.  In effect, we like to think of ourselves as affiliated with BJEP.

Why BJEP? Top Reasons Our Families Joined:

  1. Brandeis undergraduates serve as role models in our classrooms and make learning fun
  2. Prefer a Sunday morning program to one that meets during the week
  3. BJEP’s inclusive, diverse and welcoming community
  4. Opportunities to be part of a larger community through holiday and community celebrations

What is the religious background of most families?  BJEP families come from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds and our curriculum reflects that spectrum. We are a pluralistic community, comprised of families from all walks of Jewish life, including many interfaith families.

I’m moving to the area in January, can I join BJEP mid-way through the year?  BJEP is always open to new families joining when the time is right for you, at any point in the year. We would welcome a discussion with you, please get in touch with our Leadership team to discuss further at director@bjep.com.

How do you support diverse learners?  BJEP is committed to inclusive classroom instruction and supporting diverse learning needs in our classrooms. We support students, teachers and families by engaging with our area partner – Gateways – which offers our staff and teachers training, workshops and ongoing engagement with current best practices. We create individualized learning and behavior plans with students and provide teachers with the necessary tools for classroom management.

How do BJEP students prepare for a Bar/Bat/B’Nai/B-Mitzvah?  BJEP’s program provides students with a foundation in Hebrew and prayer, and many if not most students will have a Bar/Bat/B’Nai (or group) Mitzvah.  BJEP offers a B-Mitzvah cohort program as a supplemental program focused on student-led ethical topics, and students can participate in their 7th grade year, or the year after they complete BJEP’s 7th grade.  Read more about BJEP’s unique cohort based program here.

Section 2: BJEP as a Welcoming Community

What towns do families come from?  BJEP families come from more than 20 towns in Massachusetts. The majority are from the Greater Boston area including Newton, Needham, Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Waltham, Natick, Lincoln, Wellesley, Framingham, Needham, Milford, Medfield, Sudbury and Southborough.

How do you build a sense of community when there are families from many towns?  BJEP creates a warm and welcoming community for everyone to engage with on Sunday mornings. There are many opportunities for parents to mingle, learn and celebrate with each other and with their children. Parents congregate in our Atrium lounge – often, with coffee – on select Sundays, providing an opportunity to connect while our kids are in class. Family programs provide an opportunity to learn with fellow parents in your child’s classroom, and community-wide programs – such as Sukkot on the farm, the Purim carnival, Hannukah Lights Program and our 6th grade Legacy fair – provide the anchor for joyful celebrations throughout the year. Many parents take advantage of the various adult education offerings, delving into themes such as Jewish parenting, Jewish values and social justice. At other times, parents find some quiet time (with their laptop in tow) in a quiet space in a Brandeis Atrium, or take a walk with fellow parents around the campus.

What does it mean that BJEP is a parent cooperative?  Each family supports the BJEP program by selecting a parent job upon registration. Parent jobs range from greeting families at High Holiday services and supporting our Director for a holiday community-wide program (e.g., Purim) to updating our website or lending your talents in social media/other marketing and outreach. Parents who join our parent-led Board are able to participate in Board-level leadership development workshops as part of our partnership with CJP, and to impact BJEP’s program and sustainability through collaboration, teamwork and strategic planning. Each family is integral to helping BJEP run smoothly and to creating a sense of community, while keeping tuition as low as possible.

Do you offer an abbreviated program for my child in pre-K??  Students enter BJEP in any grade, from K through 7th grade. We also offer a monthly Seedlings program for ages 4 and 5, with focus on Jewish holidays and values through the creative arts.

Can my child enter in a later grade?  We are committed to working with students who enter BJEP in any grade by helping them integrate into their classroom communities. In addition, we offer a supplemental Hebrew tutoring program to work with individual students, as needed. Much of our Judaic curriculum is spiraled, increasing in depth and breadth each year. Each grade has a particular focus that builds on but is not dependent upon previous learning. As such, students are able to join in any grade without feeling behind or unprepared for the curriculum.

Does BJEP offer programming for the High Holidays?  BJEP will offer High Holiday services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and on Yom Kippur, find details for 2022 here. It is anticipated these services will be hybrid, both in-person (space limited) and on Zoom.

Section 3: BJEP Brandeis University teachers and Madrichim

Who are BJEP’s Teachers?  BJEP engages Brandeis University students, often affiliated with the campus Hillel program, to be our classroom teachers. They often stay with the BJEP program through their whole college career. Many are studying to be professional teachers, and we have been excited to have had a few teachers who have continued on to Rabbinical school. They are passionate about their Judaism and have the energy to make BJEP fun and exciting for our families. Many of them have attended Jewish summer camps throughout their lives and help us infuse BJEP with a camp-like feeling.

What are the religious backgrounds of the Brandeis student teachers?  Like BJEP families, our Brandeis student-teachers come from a variety of Jewish backgrounds. Our teachers bring the diversity, depth and variety of their own Jewish practices to their teaching, and as young adults they serve as amazing role models for our students, showing their continued interest and engagement in Jewish community. They draw on the wisdom of the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and other strands of Judaism, as well as summers at camp, to bring Judaism to life in the classroom. Even with their various backgrounds, they form a cohesive and dedicated staff with the common desire to make Jewish learning fun and meaningful for their students.

How do you teach students and families of all different Jewish backgrounds?  BJEP teachers are creative, joyful, passionate and compassionate. BJEP students enjoy experiential learning through interactive lessons in a values-based curriculum that meet students wherever they are on their own Jewish journeys.

With only one day a week of school, what are BJEP’s educational priorities?  At BJEP, we are committed to cultivating each child’s Jewish identify and providing a program that serves as a catalyst for growth and development.  Our students learn about the Jewish religion, culture and values by exposing them to Jewish history, traditions and experiences. Our Hebrew program aims to develop the students’ reading skills and to teach the fundamental prayers to serve as a foundation for meaningful participation in Jewish rituals.  We love learning through music as well!  Teachers instill in their students positive feelings about being Jewish; a sense of community with the Jewish people; a sense of concern for others and Tikkun Olam (repairing the world); and the tools to make informed decisions about how they will live their lives as Jewish adults.

How do Madrichim support classroom learning?  BJEP graduates in grades 8-12 continue their participation by serving as assistants in the classroom. They offer support for students, lead from their learning experiences at BJEP, and support hands-on activities, e.g., art projects and supporting the electives. During our family programs, Madrichim will take the lead in showcasing joy and fun, such as leading booths at our Purim carnival.

Section 4: BJEP adapts to remote learning

Will your school provide remote or in-person learning from September 2022?   BJEP returned to the Brandeis campus in September 2021 after hosting our BJEP@Home program during the pandemic, and it is anticipated that we will remain in-person.  Find our Covid-safe Approach with Brandeis here.  Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates.

How important is Jewish learning in pandemic times, and what Jewish teachings help guide us in what to do during a pandemic?  More than ever, these unprecedented times are forcing us all to take stock of what really matters – the core values of our family units that we want to continue to pass on to our children. Rabbi Myra, BJEP’s Rabbi-in-Resident (2021 – 2022), shared in her recent article, “Why Bother with Jewish Community” she highlights the connection, enrichment and purpose we so desperately need and that Jewish community is uniquely suited to provide.

How can I learn more?  Easy. Subscribe here to receive our monthly e-newsletter at the beginning of each month. Welcome to BJEP!

Have another question?  Get in touch with our Leadership team at at director@bjep.com.