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Do you want to be part of a synagogue community and give your child a Jewish education?

Portals brings an experienced teacher from Stephen Wise Free Synagogue’s widely respected Religious School to your home for weekly sessions with your child. Designed for children in kindergarten through seventh grade across Manhattan, Portals covers the same robust curriculum as our Religious School, with lessons that can be tailored to your child’s strengths and interests. If desired, participants can learn with siblings or other families.

Portals is ideal for students who would benefit from one-on-one instruction or those with challenging schedules. Upon completion of their sixth-grade year, students can work directly with our clergy and staff to prepare for a bat/bar mitzvah at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue.

Families take part in the warm and inclusive community at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, which hosts children’s services and special events for families throughout the year.  

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Do I have to live on the Upper West Side to participate in Portals?

No! One of our teachers will travel to you. 

When can I start the program?

Families are encouraged to begin Portals in September at the beginning of the academic year. However, we are happy to accommodate you at any point during the year if needed.

Do teachers have to come at the same time every week?

Absolutely not. Families can schedule Portals sessions for different times each week, so long as teachers receive at least seven days advanced notice to confirm the timing.   

Can I request a different teacher than the one my family was assigned?

If after three sessions with your assigned teacher you are interested in making a change, we will arrange for a different teacher who will be available to teach your child. 

Can my child have a Bar/t Mitzvah service in the main sanctuary?

Yes! Our B’nai Mitzvah services are among the most special experiences a family encounters. Here’s how it works: In the sixth grade families come together once a month to learn, connect, and discuss details of the B’nai Mitzvah experience.  In the seventh grade, your child will be immersed in the learning process with private tutoring at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue and individual meetings with our rabbis and cantor.

Can I participate in events for children and families at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue?

Yes, we hope you will play as active a role in our community as your schedule allows! You will have access to the same range of activities as families enrolled in our Religious School. There are a myriad of ways to take part in the warm and inclusive community at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue for both you and your child. We invite you to participate in our Shabbat services, programs specially designed for families with childrenvolunteer opportunities, community gatherings and much, much more. 

 

CURRICULUM BY GRADE LEVEL

Kindergarten
Our kindergarten program teaches students the “who, what, and when” of Judaism. Students experience the joy of Judaism by learning about the synagogue, Jewish ritual objects, Jewish holidays, and Shabbat. 

First Grade
Our goal is to foster a sense of connection to the Jewish people, while discovering the individuals, narratives, places, and vocabulary that are the foundation of the Jewish people’s story. Students explore the first book of the Bible, Genesis and begin to understand key Jewish values in order to strengthen Jewish identity.

Second Grade
Students uncover the fascinating stories of the first two books of the Bible: Genesis and Exodus.

Third Grade
Students examine the theme of holiness as they explore what it means to have something special, spiritual, and even sacred in their lives..

Our prayer-based Hebrew program officially begins in the third grade. Students are formally introduced to the Hebrew letters and vowels and quickly begin to learn to read letter-vowel word combinations. Students will learn Hebrew words and phrases that are common to the Jewish prayer service.  

Fourth Grade
Students explore the theme of Jewish peoplehood (Am Yisrael) and community (Kehillat Yisrael). What does it mean to be a part of our People?  Our prayer-based Hebrew program continues as students learn the Hebrew letters and vowels and quickly begin to learn to read letter-vowel word combinations.

Fifth Grade
Students focus on one of the most compelling sections of the Bible:  Prophets. They read thought-provoking speeches about justice, fairness, and social action as they explore this sacred text. Additionally, students are introduced to the Torah portion that they will read at their B’nai Mitzvah celebration.

Sixth Grade
Our Sixth grade students explore the rich and complicated history of our people from ancient to modern times through the lens of text, film, and additional emphasis on media. By sixth grade, our students are fully engrossed in our Hebrew-through-prayer program.

During the sixth grade school year, parents join with students and their teacher once a month for our Family Cohort Program, which allows families to learn together about the entire Bar/Bat Mitzvah process: the ritual, sacred objects related to being a Jewish adult, and the prayer service.  

COST AND ENROLLMENT

Portals requires an annual tuition of $2,700 for 18 sessions/year. There is also a $100 materials fee. Participating families must be members of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. Learn more about synagogue membership. 

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