According to Mark I. Rosen, Ph.D., of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, “Exposure to Judaism at home and in childcare can help children to grow up with a strong Jewish identity.”
It is the responsibility of the Jewish community to offer Jewish families opportunities that will strengthen their Jewish identity. Family engagement with early childhood Jewish programs beginning with infants or toddlers can be the gateway for life-long Jewish involvement. Since the connections made in the brain within the first five years of life stay with a child for a lifetime, it is imperative that Jewish values such as tzedakah (charity), tikkun olam (repairing the world) and hesed (acts of loving kindness) are instilled from the very beginning of life. These values and a variety of rich Jewish traditions and culture are embedded in our early childhood Jewish programs. Whatever the philosophy of the program, an early childhood Jewish program can be a place where a child, along with a group of his or her peers, will be exposed to Shabbat, sacred space, the observance of different Jewish holidays, Torah, Hebrew language, Jewish music and foods, Israel, and so much more of what Judaism has to offer—all geared at the perfect level for a young child (Rothstein, 2006, myjewishlearning.com).
When young children are exposed to programs that encourage the development of social skills, ethical reasoning, problem-solving skills, language, and literacy, they have the tools that are necessary to be successful Jewish learners. Over the past 15 years, scientists have been gaining insights into how young children learn. Their findings prove what early childhood professionals have long known: Quality early childhood education is essential in encouraging successful learners who will eventually become the teachers, leaders, and responsible citizens of the future. Excellence in early childhood Jewish education can lay the foundation for life-long Jewish learning and involvement and prepare the future leaders of the Jewish community.
Questions About Our Early Childhood Education Program?
Amy Newman, MAJE, RJE
Jewish Early Childhood Education Consultant
SPARC Coordinator (Single Parent Alliance)