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Beth-El School Happenings


By Ramona L. Brand, Director of Youth Learning

Yes, In My Backyard: Using our neighborhood spaces for Jewish Learning

A recent study by the National Education Association found that learning outside the classroom provided the following results:

  • Children who take school trips have better grades (59%), higher graduation rates from high school (95%) and college (63%) and greater income (12% higher annually).
  • 89% of adult respondents said educational trips had a positive, lasting impact on their education and career because enriching field trips made them more engaged, intellectually curious, and interested in and out of school.
  • Learning field trips give students the opportunity to learn in a natural environment and experience things first-hand and from primary resources, rather than only textbooks; real objects rather than photos.
  • Learning field trips provide relevant and authentic connections to the curriculum.
  • Learning field trips provide unique and long -lasting perspective of curriculum.

Richmond is a city rich in Jewish History and ripe with opportunity to learn real world application to Jewish values, text study, history, and culture. Over the years we have taken our students to numerous places such as the VMFA, Park365, a local Bakery, Monticello, Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens and on a walking tour of the Community Fridges.

Over the next several months students will be, once again, ‘on the road.’

Our 2nd and 3rd graders will be visiting a nearby grocery store as the culmination of their month-long Kashrut unit, where they will engage in scavenger hunts, kosher meal planning, and even purchase a kosher snack.

Next month our 6th and 7th graders will undertake the Richmond Jewish History Tour and will visit numerous sites around Richmond that are steeped in generations of Jewish impact on our own city.



Dramatic readings, site visits, GPS locators are all part of the morning.

The V’ahavta commands us: “V’shinan‘tam L’vanekha.” You shall teach them diligently to your children. It is not enough, however, to simply impart text and tradition without meaning.

Bringing learning outside the classroom means that Judaism can become the lens through which each student can navigate through life and grow to be an engaged Jewish adult. The majority of our students’ lives take place outside Jewish spaces.

Using our community spaces as a learning tool can have the following impact: Students find meaning in con’text’.

Using Jewish texts to make connections to real world experiences.



Boosting Jewish identity: when students make connections between Jewish learning, experiences, and impact on their own community, it fosters a deeper sense of pride and attachment to both their Jewish identity and their community.

And, they get to apply their Jewish values to real world application! These experiences support reflexive learning as well.

The photos above and below are related to Tu B’shevat and Beth-El 2nd and 3rd graders working on their Kosher unit in preparation for their field trip



Field visits are fun and memorable; and provide valuable connections to the learning they do in religious school, and impart a sense of pride as our students view the greater community in which we live.

Tot Shabbat: Saturday, Feb. 3

For families with children age Birth -5 / Open to the entire community

Time: 10 a.m. – Location: Grove Ave. Social Hall or Kiddish Room

Families can enjoy a Shabbat service with Morah Ramona and Morah Ally. Geared for young children and filled with music, stories, movement and more. A musical, meaningful service designed for wiggles.

Our 2024 registration for the winter/spring semester opens:

Twice monthly Pre-School classes available for children ages 3 and 4 and Teens Grades 8-10

Kindergarten – Grade 7 meet every Sunday

Grades 3-7- Midweek classes on Wednesday

To register or for more information https://www.bethelrichmond.org/school .

For any questions about Religious School, Young Family, Teen, and Better Together Programs Contact Ramona Brand, r.brand@bethelrichmond.org.