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Thursday, July 31, 2014
Changes coming to EMJC Hebrew school
Shortened days will accommodate parents’ and children’s busy schedules
Donovan Berthoud/Herald
The East Meadow Jewish Center's Hebrew School is shortening the schedule for its third grade class.

Beginning in September, the East Meadow Jewish Center’s Hebrew school is shortening the class schedule for its third grade class, moving from a three-day-week program to two days. The change, said school officials, will be used as a blueprint to shorten classes for all of its grades in the future.

School officials said the change is in response to the busy needs of parents and students.“Our goal is to accommodate the family schedule while maintaining educational standards and goals,” said Principal Shira Ornstein.

The school’s third grade class, known as the aleph class, formerly met on Sunday mornings, and Monday and Wednesday evenings. Beginning in the fall, the class will meet on Sundays and Wednesdays. “We are responding to the fact that the public schools have become more demanding,” said Rabbi Ronald Androphy, the East Meadow Jewish Center’s spiritual leader since 1983. “Students today are frequently overprogrammed.”

The school will strive to teach the same curriculum to its third grade students, which includes Jewish traditions, prayers, rituals and Israeli history. “We hope to be able to teach in a little bit less time, equally as successfully,” Androphy said.

To supplement the reduced hours, Ornstein added that officials are exploring ways to add family programs throughout the school year, which runs from September to June. Androphy said they are also investigating online assisted learning that students can perform at home.

Ornstein said that families were notified well in advance, through email and writing, about the change. “The groundswell really came from the parents and it’s being very positively received,” she said.

Both the Jewish Center and school is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary.

The school services children beginning in kindergarten through eleventh grade. Eighth through eleventh grade constitutes the school’s Hebrew High School program, which meets one evening per week.

Last year, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism listed the East Meadow Jewish Center among its congregations that have fulfilled all criteria for the Framework for Excellence for the Conservative synagogue school. “We are very proud of that accreditation,” said Ornstein, who has been the school’s principal for five years. “We’re hoping to build Jewish identity, give Jewish values, that continue with [students] for a lifetime.”

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