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Early Childhood


Youth Education (Pre-Bar & Bat Mitzvah)

What are JEMS?
JEMS refers to the Jewish Education Modules for children in pre-school through sixth grade held in the comfort of private homes. For over a decade, this trend-setting model continues to inspire school aged youth to take pride in being Jewish by ‘doing’ Jewish within their neighborhood, among peers and under the guidance of passionate, caring and creative Jewish educators.

Why Valley Outreach Synagogue’s JEMS?
Our primary mission is to strengthen our students’ Jewish identity while meeting them where they are – both spiritually and physically, by bringing Judaism into their hearts and their homes. We want them to feel that being Jewish is part of who they are everywhere, including home, not just in a synagogue-setting.

The once-a-week, home-based JEMS class model provides the flexibility and convenience that families seek in their full lives, including leaving weekends open for family time. With 16 JEMS classes offered in private homes this year, parents can choose from classes held from Monday through Thursday in their own neighborhood.

What will my child learn about Judaism?
Our 27-session curriculum is based on three key pillars of Judaism which aim at developing and strengthening students’ character through a Jewish lens: Torah (values and ethics), Avodah (developing a personal relationship with God) and G’milut Chasadim (performing acts of loving kindness). Children learning through active engagement and experiences that personalize their learning.

Not traditional Hebrew School, but how about Hebrew?
We want our children to be comfortable in Jewish settings and able to learn, pray and lead in our sacred language. Familiarity with written and spoken Hebrew language is essential to developing a strong Jewish identity. Our youngest students are introduced to Hebrew letters and words through songs and play, while older students learn simple Hebrew commands integrated with Jewish Life Vocabulary, a collection of common Hebrew words and phrases that increase the students’ connections to Jewish peoplehood, traditions, culture and life.

As students begin to prepare for Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the ability to read, chant and understand the traditional prayers of our ancestors becomes the focus. Students who complete at least 4 years of JEMS should be prepared to lead the Shabbat service. Private tutoring is required to learn individual Torah portions.

How is community created and nourished if JEMS are based in homes?
Over the course of the year, each JEM (or class) develops a unique sense of camaraderie, as families regularly congregate together in community service, experience joyful communal Shabbat dinners and learn about the symbols and customs of Jewish holidays such as Sukkot, Chanukah, Purim and Passover during lively, engaging celebrations at the synagogue.

In order to instill a sense of comfort and familiarity with communal prayer and synagogue life, JEM classes meet 5 times a year at the VOS sanctuary on the same day that they typically meet at the host home. In this way, students get to personally connect with Rabbi Li-Paz, Chaplain Jennifer Nye and Music Director Christopher Raymond while learning together with their broader community of peers in the synagogue.

How can my child join a JEM?
Each existing JEM has a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 11 students in the same grade who live within either the West San Fernando Valley or the Conejo Valley. If there is room in a JEM, your child my join. When a JEM reaches 12 students, it splits into two separate JEMS and another host is identified.

A minimum of 6 students in the same grade within a geographic area are needed to start a new JEM. Typically, a few families will recruit their friends and together with other parents who inquire through the education department, a new JEM can be formed.

Who are the JEM hosts?
Any parent or grandparent who has a child in a JEM is eligible to host. Besides the convenience factor, it is very fulfilling to welcome your child’s peers and educator each week as your home fills with the excited sounds of Jewish learning, Hebrew and prayer. Host homes are assessed for safety prior to the beginning of the school year. JEMS typically remain in the same host home throughout the year, but occasionally they switch midway through the year.

What do parents say about JEMS?
“When I pick up my twins, they can’t wait to share what they have learned. JEWELS is a blessing for our family.”
“The JEWELS program is a dream come true. I attribute this to the encouragement of an intuitive and nurturing teacher.”
“After much searching, I think we have found our ‘home.’ Our daughter returns from her JEM and says she loves it, the kids and her teacher. I never thought I would hear that about Hebrew school.”
“My kids look forward to their JEWELS JEM each week and have a wealth of knowledge regarding their Jewish heritage.”
“My daughter enjoys the low-key learning approach and feels like a part of a community. Families work together, the instructors are carefully chosen and monitored, and the entire program is beautifully conceived and run.”
“JEWELS has been a terrific experience for our daughter and something she will carry with her for the rest of her life.”

What does JEMS education cost?
We are thrilled to announce that due to generous underwriting in 2019, tuition fees for most of the JEM levels are reduced from prior years!

2019-20 tuition fees are as follows:
JEM Grade Hrs/week Tuition

Little JEMS...... 2–4 yrs, 1 hr/wk.............$220 per semester*
Alef Bet........... K–2, 1 hr/wk..................$550
Gimel............... 3, 1.5 hrs/wk..................$800
Dalet................ 4, 2 hrs/wk..................$1,300
Hey.................. 5, 2 hrs/wk..................$1,500
Vav................... 6, 2 hrs/wk..................$1,600
All younger siblings receive a 10% discount.

*$66 for first time Little JEM students with BJE voucher
Tuition Fees Include: Class instruction, supplies, and monthly JEWELS community events.
Tuition for grades 3–6 includes the JCA Synagogue Youth Retreat in December.

Payments can be made in full, two payments or monthly with a credit card.

Is VOS membership required?
The value of being a part of a thriving, vibrant and inclusive multigenerational community such as VOS is priceless and reaches well beyond the benefits of Jewish education. While we hope that you will choose to fully embrace the opportunity to become a member, VOS membership is required only for families with children in grades three through six. Learn more about membership here.

Important Dates:

Sun, May 24 2020 1 Sivan 5780