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Beth-El School Happenings


By Ramona L. Brand, Director of Youth Learning

All are overjoyed to be back in our school building again, and thankful for both indoor and outdoor spaces in which to safely learn together. The photos with this article feature some recent activities and programs at Beth-El Religious School.

Hakarat HaTov: The Jewish Value of Gratitude

Jewish practice centers on thankfulness and gratitude.  We begin and end our days with prayers of appreciation for our health, food, safety, love and family.

“Todah Rabah” is among the first Hebrew expressions we teach our children. We find blessings in the infinite and the infinitesimal. The month of November provides ample opportunity for Hakarat Hatov, practicing the value of gratitude. We harvest the bounty of the earth, the bounty of family gatherings, and the bounty of opportunity.

This year, we have even more to be thankful for, as our daily lives return to a waning-COVID normalcy.  November is the month for our American holiday of Thanksgiving, which the Puritans founded on the holiday of Sukkot.

We celebrate the security of bounty while dwelling in the fragile structure of the Sukkah, a perfect parallel to our human existence on earth. Practicing Hakarat Hatov enables us to stay focused on what we have, and to give authentic thanks even in tough times.

It also reminds us that we can, in turn, express our thankfulness by making the world a better place for others, to open our hearts, and share our bounty with others.

As Jews we are doubly blessed with the celebrations of Sukkot and Thanksgiving, giving us more reasons to say Todah Rabah.

Jewish-Themed Thanksgiving Books for Children:

“Rivka’s First Thanksgiving” by Elsa Okon Rael

“Molly’s Pilgrim” by Barbara Cohen

Stories for Children about food insecurity

“Maddie’s Fridge” by Lois Brandt

Chaverim Katanim

A new Chaverim Katanim (Small Friends) Tot Family Playgroup will launch this year. The playgroup will meet on the 3rd Sunday of each month at the Religious School for music, stories, crafts and more in a relaxed social environment. Families can attend on a drop-in basis.

Chaverim Katanim will be the place to form friendships that can last a lifetime!

Location: Temple Beth-El Religious School, 601 N. Parham Road.

Time: 9:30-10:30 a.m.

Dates:  Nov. 11, 21; Jan. 16; March 20; and May 23

There is no charge.

This program is open to the entire community. Parents must be vaccinated to attend and masks must be worn inside the school.

November Religious School Calendar:

Sundays: Nov. 7, 14 and 21

Wednesdays: Nov. 3, 10 and 17

Pre-K meets: Nov. 14 and 21

Grades 8 – 10 meet:  Nov. 7 and 21; 10 a.m. – noon

Chaverim Katanim: Nov. 21; 9:30-10:30 a.m.

Contact Ramona at (804) 355-3564 ext. 111, or r.brand@bethelrichmond.org  to learn more about our vibrant Jewish education and our remarkable congregation or visit http://www.bethelrichmond.org/education/brown-religious-school/  to find a registration form.

Temple Beth-El Tot Shabbat Services: Saturday, Nov. 6

For families with children – from infants to age 5, Open to the entire community

Families can enjoy a Shabbat service geared for young children and filled with music, stories, movement and more. A musical, meaningful service designed for wiggles. Meet at 10 a.m. on the back lawn of the VMFA (Grove Avenue side). Bring a blanket or chairs, and dress for the weather.