Beth Torah opens doors to new school initiative

By Lynn Carroll….

Gabriela Raskovsky

A new initiative combining religious education at Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus and Temple Sinai of North Dade is designed to help fill demand for a religious school experience for the Jewish community of Aventura.

The many options available to youth today that did not exist previously, says Beth Torah President Brian Kettler, inspired the program.

“With Facebook and other social networking sites on the Internet,” he says,” they have the ability to interact without even leaving their rooms. If we want to see kids enjoy the experience of being part of a religious school, we need to think a bit

Cantor Luis Cattan

out of the box.”

Kettler says when he attended religious school in the 1960s, “It was a very rote program. There was not a lot of enthusiasm for it. We want our children to feel more excited about the school program.”

The new program uses as a model the successful Thursday Night School, combining an hour of education with two or three hours of socialization, the two temples conducted a few years ago.

“Dr. Chaim Botwinick, director of CAJE the Center for Advancement of Jewish Education in Miami, said he is writing an article supporting this new endeavor in our community,” Kettler says. “They are excited about what we are doing.”

Beth Torah’s Scheck Family Religious School typically has about 140 kids enrolled, from pre-schoolers up to age 15 or 16. “For the older ones, socialization is very important,” Kettler says. “By doubling the number of kids participating in the Judaic part of our religious school, we guarantee they can enjoy at a higher level, while showing that Reform and Conservative can co-exist. And the kids will bring the parents together.”

“We’re calling it a community-based, Jewish Religious School. It’s all about developing continuity backwards from children to parents.”

Leading the effort are Beth Torah Cantor Luis Cattan and Gabriela Raskovsky, Hebrew and Judaic Studies principal for Temple Sinai and Sinai Academy. Enrollment is ongoing.

For more information, call 305-932- 2829 or visit

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