How We Work
A Typical Day at Makom Community
We fit Jewish education into the busy lives of urban families. We pick children up Monday through Friday from area elementary schools, on a flexible schedule. They walk back to our center at 20th & Sansom Street, or S. Juniper & Wharton Street, for a healthy snack and a whole afternoon of Jewish learning, until parent pickup by 6:00pm. While they are with us, children also have time with friends and mentors and can begin homework or have some much needed downtime with their favorite book.
Our Innovative Pedagogy- Jewish Placemaking
Jewish Placemaking has a few key goals:
- Child-led learning: Children pursue their own interests and learn in ways that work well for them.
- Relationship-building: Emotional intelligence and community building skills are core concepts.
- Playful, Joyful Jewish learning: We have FUN exploring Jewish text and ideas and making them relevant.
- Parent Empowerment: All parents are empowered interpreters of Jewish tradition, especially at our weekly Family Shabbat Celebration.
Sample Schedule & Curriculum Overview
We explore a section of text when students are drawing what they hear, building with legos, or sitting listening to our educators dynamically share the text. We start with an opening activity to anchor the students in the main ideas of the text and then have a conversation delving into the messages of the text and how we can apply them to our lives.
Shulchanot Avodah – Project Centers
We meet learners where they are! We know not every child processes and engages with the same activity. At Shulchanot Avodah one child busily collages a self-portrait. Two other students are using natural materials to build representations of scenes from a text. Another student flips from image to image online as she tries to imagine what the flora and fauna might have looked like in an earlier time. Another student reads aloud for a group from a children’s book and leads a discussion on how the story connects back to the text we learned that day. One student sits quietly on her own writing in her journal. Teachers move from student to student finding out whether he or she can help with the project that particular student is working on. In Nitzanim (3rd-5th grade) our students are immersed in Project-Based Learning.
Tefilah: Prayer, Music, and Movement
Everyone grabs their siddur (prayer book) from their mailboxes and moves over to a carpet as we sing a niggun (a wordless tune). We sing prayers and move with the music—jumping, walking, and contextualizing the text of prayers through the use of gestures and sign language to provide deeper understanding. Many of the students volunteer to lead parts of the prayer service, but some do not. Some students choose to lead pieces, and others use their siddurim to write down or draw ideas that come to them during Tefilah: Prayer, Music, and Movement.
Makom Community’s pedagogy, Jewish Placemaking, is an immersive environment where our Jewish texts, rituals, and customs are woven into our environment. Hebrew is part of that environment: through play and conversation, as key vocabulary words in text study, and as a part of a joyful and confidence-building Tefilah experience. Tefilah is rooted in connecting to our community and our ancestors through singing as a way to engage with ancient liturgy and develop mindfulness. Students have a strong sense of ownership of their Jewish environment and build a sense of ownership around the prayers, vying for a turn to lead elements of Tefilah. Just as Torah is ours to understand, question, and to find personal meaningful ways, so is Tefilah. By students discovering that Tefilah can ground them in their Jewish environment, they will express when they are ready to master prayers. Students begin to master Hebrew prayers in third grade, and each student constructs their own path for Hebrew mastery. As students master prayers that interest them, they create a fulfilling and successful learning experience that combines individual questions with deep content.