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Administration reevaluates Zman Kodesh program

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In preparation for the 2018-2019 school year, the CESJDS administration surveyed students, faculty and parents about the current Zman Kodesh program. They will be using the survey results to adjust the Zman Kodesh offerings for the future.

The survey was sent out by Director of Jewish Life Stephanie Hoffman on Friday, April 13. It explored the various Zman Kodesh options and asked students about changes that they would wish to see for the program.

“As part of reviewing and enhancing the program, we are surveying parents, students, and faculty to gain a better understand[ing] of how you experience Zman Kodesh, and about your thoughts on this aspect of our program,” Hoffman wrote in the email.

 The survey has inspired discussions across the school, prompting suggestions from a simple improvement in student participation to more radical ideas like turning Zman Kodesh into a graded class that students could fail. 

“The big question right now that the survey is trying to answer is: are the options that we are offering and the way that we are approaching that, meeting the needs of our current families and students?” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said there should not be any assumptions made about potential changes in Zman Kodesh. Head of School Rabbi Mitchel Malkus, High School Principal and Associate Head of School Dr. Marc Lindner, Middle School Principal Dr. Eliana Lipsky and Hoffman created the survey and will analyze the results together. Once they meet, they will have a better understanding of how much change will be necessary and will determine the timeline of the project.

“We are hoping to see a broader picture from the whole community of what are the perceptions of what’s happening and also what are some of the hopes of what would happen in this time period so that we can understand the needs and meet the needs of our family and students,” Hoffman said.

Hebrew teacher and Zman Kodesh leader Ortal Wikoff thinks Zman Kodesh can be improved by providing more options. She thinks that there needs to be a shift in morale. For instance, students need to take Zman Kodesh more seriously. Wikoff suggested that students be graded in Zman Kodesh as a pass or fail course.

“I think it’s good to try to change Zman Kodesh,” Wikoff said. “They want to hear us. It’s a good way to share people’s opinions.”

Sophomore and Zman Kodesh Ozeret Amelia Rich agrees that an attitude change is important. She said she noticed that “what you get out is what you put in,” especially for some students in her middle school minyan.

The hope is to reform Zman Kodesh to be more meaningful, according to Hoffman. The feedback in the survey will provide necessary information to reflect on the community’s needs.

“We want this time to be sacred for each and every individual,” Hoffman said.

This story was featured in the Volume 35, Issue 6 print edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on May 30, 2018.

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