Kol Halev Opens Hebrew School in South Austin
Religion and practicing one’s faith is a challenge for many Jewish families these days. Time constraints, financial demands, blended faiths and multiple extra-curricular activities have led many to question the importance and relevance of a Jewish education for their children. The opening of the Kol Halev Hebrew School in Southwest Austin aims to help solve the problem with an innovative, independent and affordable Jewish educational program that is local to the Southwest Austin community.
While American Jews say that they are proud to be Jewish and have a “strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people,” only one-third of Jews belong to a synagogue, according to a 2013 survey of American Jews by the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project. Traditionally, a synagogue or temple membership has been required for children to attend classes, known as Hebrew school.
Here in Austin, the majority of the Jewish synagogues are located in Northwest Austin or downtown and are not convenient to the growing Jewish population in Southwest Austin. With ongoing traffic concerns, parents are struggling to travel up to those locations for Hebrew school up to three times per week and for additional events, such as holiday services.
In addition, the total costs of Hebrew school can be very high as tuition is usually charged in addition to expensive synagogue dues, including membership for the entire family, as well as a charge for the construction and upkeep of the synagogue facilities.
To help meet these concerns and growing needs of the Southwest Austin Jewish community, Congregation Kol Halev, which translates to voice of the heart, will be partnering with the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life to launch a new, unique Hebrew School.
Congregation Kol Halev, an independent, progressive synagogue community that draws on varied traditions of Judaism, will administer the nationally successful, proven Judiac curriculum provided by the ISJL. The curriculum is developmentally appropriate, nurtures students’ Jewish identity and equips students to live rich and meaningful lives.
The Kol Halev Hebrew School will launch officially September 10 and has begun enrolling students for the 2017-2018 academic year. They will accept and welcome all families, including those who are interfaith, divorced, same sex and single parent. Kol Halev is egalitarian, meaning men and women are treated equally, and liberal, meaning progressive, while maintaining a strong belief in Jewish traditions and customs.
In addition, Hebrew School families will be entitled to all membership benefits of Congregation Kol Halev, including High Holiday services, at no additional charge. Enrollment will remain open even after the start of the school year.
Kol Halev’s main priority is to educate children in fun, creative and inspiring ways that takes into account scheduling challenges and tuition affordability. The Hebrew school offers students from kindergarten through middle school the opportunity to learn about the prayers, history of Judaism, Bible, holidays and many other important subjects in fun and creative ways with music, art and more.
In addition, Kol Halev is fortunate to have a warm and experienced congregational leadership, including Rabbi Lev Baesh, Rabbi/Cantor Robbi Sherwin and Cantorial Soloist Amy Adler.
Individual arrangements can be made with these clergy to officiate at b'nai mitzvah and other lifecycle events.
The Kol Halev Hebrew School will offer Hebrew/Judaic studies on Sundays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Grade Power Learning Center at 4301 West William Cannon Drive, Building B 220 in Austin. There will be opportunities for parents to meet other parents if they choose, and for Hebrew School families to come together for holidays and special events.
Since Congregation Kol Halev does not have a physical temple location and instead prefers having a more mobile, contemporary congregation with alternative and flexible meeting spaces, it reduces the financial burden on families and allows the Hebrew School to be held in a convenient Southwest Austin location. By offering the Hebrew School Sunday afternoons, Kol Halev hopes to provide a more convenient solution for families with afterschool and weekend extra-curricular activities, as well as ease traffic concerns. ■
For more information and to arrange a trial class, contact Sherry Blum, Kol Halev president, at 512-699-3398 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, visit www.isjl.org. For more information about Kol Halev, visit www.kolhalev.org or www.facebook.com/KolHalev.