Dor Hadash Religious School
The Dor Hadash Religious School provides Reconstructionist Jewish education in an after-school setting for children of grade-school age through Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Dor Hadash Religious School is the only Reconstructionist Religious School in western Pennsylvania. The Reconstructionist philosophy makes our school different in a number of ways:
- Our classes meet once per week on Wednesdays for 2 hours and students do assignments at home. We give between one and two hours of homework per week, depending on the grade; ideally, this is to be done together with parents. Our goal is to reinforce the habit of Jewish learning in the home. The homework also allows classes to include discussions and debates, not just the presentation of material.
- A feeling of belonging to a community is important and we are conscious of creating many opportunities for families to spend time together. Together as a community, we celebrate Shabbat holidays with different activities: dinners, picnic services, holiday cooking activities, our Hanukkah on Ice extravaganza. Classes that include parents are held periodically.
In the past, classes have met in people’s homes, to emphasize learning in the home. Last year, we experimented with holding all classes in the building, which we will continue this year. We have tried to keep the informal, home atmosphere going, and having all the students in the same place creates a feeling of community.
Our students are taught all aspects of our tradition and are encouraged to respect traditional practices, but they are also taught to keep an open mind and think about how the rituals and celebrations might be changed (‘reconstructed’) to enhance their meaning and effect. When we study history, the changes as well as the continuities are emphasized. Part of that is exploring how their parents and ancestors practiced these customs and what they believe(d).
- Our curriculum takes a wide cultural approach. In every grade each student has to read at least one book (usually two) of their choice and do a report on it. Jewish artists and musicians are studied. We teach modern Hebrew and cursive writing as well as prayer book Hebrew.
- We are committed to small class sizes; no class has more than 8 All of our teachers are professional teachers with many years of experience.
- Our families have the opportunity to work on mitzvah projects throughout the year. Working with the congregation’s Social Action Committee, the projects have included packing supplies at Global Links, serving meals at Ronald McDonald House, cleaning up the riversides with Allegheny Cleanways, and planting gardens with G-tech.
Behind all we do is always the philosophy of Reconstructionist Judaism. We promote: true equality within the Jewish tradition; a sincere regard for other religions and cultures; an appreciation of the divine in the world around us and in each one of us; and the continuing evolution of Jewish commitment.