Celebrating Jewish Identity Inside and Outside the Classroom

Four year-old Claire Lemerman loves to light Shabbat candles at home and sing “Zoom Gali Gali.” She enjoys it so much that her father, Josh Lemerman says, “It’s all just such a natural, regular part of her weekly routine.”

Claire is a student at the Mandel Early Childhood Education Center at the Shaw JCC.  She loves participating in her class Shabbat ceremony with Ms. Lisa (Pesantez) and she looks forward to visits with Shabbat Scott (Zorn) and Cantor Kathy (Fromson).

Claire’s love of Judaism and its traditions spill out beyond the four walls of the Mandel ECE.  Even when she is performing or dancing, she incorporates Shabbat or Chanukah songs into her play. Being Jewish and expressing her Judaism is not only a source of joy for Claire, it is an identity she is proud to embrace.

Many other children are also bringing Jewish lessons home. David Savage learned Shabbat blessings at the Mandel ECE and was so proud to show his parents and grandparents what he had learned— and they were thrilled to listen. After celebrating Shabbat at school, David would bring home Jewish books from the school’s lending library for his parents to read to him.

“The children of the Mandel ECE are engaged in Jewish learning every day,” says Kim Garra, director of the Mandel ECE. Students learn Judaism through a multi-faceted approach using activities, experiences, songs, stories and prayers. Garra adds that during play, “It is not uncommon to see children participating in a Shabbat celebration or pretending to be a cantor.” Fridays are special at the Mandel ECE, as the entire school family celebrates Shabbat together.

Your contribution to the Jewish Community Board of Akron’s Annual Campaign helps builds a Jewish foundation for our community’s youngest members and brings Judaism into their homes.



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