Weekly Shabbat observance, Passover, and more key to sharing cultural values and traditions

If you walk into the JCC on a Friday morning and peek in our multipurpose room, you will find children ~ from toddlers through kindergarteners ~ singing songs, dancing, and saying blessings over challah and juice to welcome in Shabbat.

This isn’t a special one-time celebration. The JCC Early Childhood Education classrooms join together each week to celebrate Shabbat. Rochel Simon, from Chabad of Greater Dayton, visits the classrooms each week to teach Judaics and lead the Shabbat celebration. Once per month, students roll up their sleeves to learn what goes into our delicious bread by kneading and braiding their own challah to take home. And in November, preschool families are invited to attend our Annual “Share Shabbat” where they are able to experience the warmth of Shabbat with us. Last year we had over 200 people join us for this meaningful event.

Open to children ages 6 weeks through kindergarten, the JCC Early Childhood Education program provides top-notch care and education while connecting students to Judaism. For the 99 children ~ both Jewish and non-Jewish ~ who attend our preschool, this has proven to be an important piece of their early childhood education experience.

Throughout their day, children learn about mitzvot, tzedakah, traditions and Jewish holidays. In addition, the students play, connect and develop an understanding for each other. We prepare our children for Kindergarten, beginning when they are toddlers, by linking our lesson plans to the Early Learning Content Standards from the State of Ohio.

Many of our efforts can be seen beyond the classroom. Preschool parent Lindsey Roth has witnessed the Jewish values instilled at school in her home. “I was making dinner, and my daughter asked me to look at something,” says Lindsey. “She had picked up everything off the floor and put it away as best she could, without me asking. I told her thank you, and she exclaimed ‘I did a Mitzvah ~ I am so excited!’ This is exactly what I wanted from a preschool.”

I was making dinner, and my daughter asked me to look at something. She had picked up everything off the floor and put it away as best as she could, without me asking. I told her thank you, and she exclaimed ‘I did a Mitzvah ~ I am so excited!’ This is exactly what I wanted from a preschool.

~ Lindsey Roth
JCC Preschool Parent

I was making dinner, and my daughter asked me to look at something. She had picked up everything off the floor and put it away as best as she could, without me asking. I told her thank you, and she exclaimed ‘I did a Mitzvah ~ I am so excited!’ This is exactly what I wanted from a preschool.

~ Lindsey Roth
JCC Preschool Parent

I was making dinner, and my daughter asked me to look at something. She had picked up everything off the floor and put it away as best as she could, without me asking. I told her thank you, and she exclaimed ‘I did a Mitzvah ~ I am so excited!’ This is exactly what I wanted from a preschool.

~ Lindsey Roth
JCC Preschool Parent

Because we are a Jewish preschool, our focus is on all things related to Judaism ~ including culture, values, traditions, and holidays. Throughout the year, our students can be found parading through the halls and offices to show off their Purim costumes, enjoying apples and honey to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, and making delicious latkes for Chanukah.

We instill a love of Judaism through all we do. Because we are play based, our students learn through hands-on projects and experiences. It provides the students the opportunity to learn while having fun.

Apart from Shabbat, our Passover Experience is our biggest celebration. It begins with Rabbi Levi & Rochel Simon and their interactive Matzah Factory. Students learn about matzah and why we eat it during Passover. They have fun getting their hands in the flour and water mixture, and watching their doughy creation turn into a crisp and crunchy snack.

Another aspect of the celebration, the Passover Experience, tells the story of the holiday by taking students on a journey with Moses, Miriam, the Pharaoh and his slaves. Staff and volunteers dress up as these historical figures to add to the realness of the experience. Stations are set up representing Baby Moses in the Nile River, freeing the slaves from the Pharaoh, encountering the plagues and the Passover celebration, complete with a life size Seder plate. At each station children have the opportunity to learn about the holiday through stories and songs.

Activities such as these provide students with a unique way to learn about the holidays and understand the traditions they may witness at home. For students who do not practice Judaism, the activities give them a glimpse into a culture they may not be exposed to otherwise. Ultimately, our goal is to help mold our young students into respectful, responsible and caring adults. And our preschool model is allowing us to do just that.

For more information about the JCC’s Early Childhood Education program, please contact Audrey MacKenzie at 937-610-1555 or amackenzie@jfgd.net.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This