As we draw closer to the conclusion of an academic year that none of us could have envisioned, our hearts overflow with gratitude for the dedication of our Wise Religious School families and faculty. Your commitment to Jewish education enabled our students to develop meaningful bonds – with their teachers, with one another, and with their Jewish heritage – despite the challenges we faced. From online classes to family gatherings to drive-in services, movies, Purim Carnivals, and more, we have so enjoyed the chance to learn and connect with your children in new and creative ways. Our time together this past year frequently underscored a simple, yet profound truth: every child and every family in our community is unique, with distinct interests, needs, and priorities. Even as we take pride in the beautiful and meaningful learning community we created together with you this year, we also know that a one-size-fits-all approach to Jewish education is not the answer for our community.

As we prepare for the aftermath of a pandemic that has overwhelmed so many of our families and redefined the needs of our community, we are excited to share our plans for this fall, which will give you unprecedented levels of choice in crafting the path for your child’s Jewish journey.

As a Wise family, you will have the ability to choose from a range of learning experiences for your children. More details will be forthcoming, but here’s a glimpse of what we have planned:

  • CAMP WISE FAMILY EXPERIENCE (Sunday mornings, monthly): For those families who enjoy learning together in an immersive experience that combines uplifting prayer, exciting games, and meaningful discovery! Join your Wise clergy and faculty once monthly to study and celebrate Jewish values, traditions, and community at our Camp Wise Family Experience!
  • CAMP WISE WEEKENDS (Sunday mornings, monthly): Building on our incredibly successful Camp Wise, you now have the option of a regular camp experience. Give your child the chance to immerse themselves in Jewish values and culture at the pool, on the court, on the climbing wall, at art, and more, with your Wise clergy and Camp Wise staff!
  • RELIGIOUS SCHOOL at LEO BAECK TEMPLE (Sunday mornings, weekly): We are excited to share the news of our partnership with our neighbor, just down the street — Leo Baeck Temple. For those families who want a weekly Sunday class for your child to develop connections with Jewish community, history, and traditions alongside your Wise clergy, augmented by electives like art, dance, gardening, music, and more!
  • PRAYER HEBREW (weekly): Our prayer education curriculum, often called the Hebrew Hour, will remain online this fall, providing families with the choice of enrolling in a weekday afternoon class or in 1:1 tutoring to help your child develop comfort with our tradition’s prayers and music
  • WISE TEMPLE YOUTH: Our Wise Temple Youth programs have flourished during the pandemic, providing our teens with companionship, purpose, and community through our online programs. Encourage your teen to join us this fall as our program resumes onsite!
  • JUNIOR WISE TEMPLE YOUTH: Our pre-teen programs enable children to socialize and build community with their peers from our programs and beyond as they engage in fun and engaging recreation with their Jewish friends from Wise.

Creating these diverse learning opportunities for our families requires creative thinking, perseverance, and strategic partnerships. We are grateful to the staff and parents who worked diligently to make these offerings possible, including our colleagues at Leo Baeck Temple. Our long and fruitful relationship with Leo Baeck—who opened their doors to our community when our synagogue was founded and who convened services and classes on our campus several years ago following the Skirball fire—makes us natural partners. When we explored options for providing new choices for our families, Leo Baeck graciously offered to open its Religious School—one of Los Angeles’s most renowned—to our families, while we open our preschool—one of Los Angeles’s most renowned—to theirs.

As we look ahead to the coming year and all the opportunities it affords with anticipation, we also wish to express our deepest gratitude to our Director of Religious School and Wise Temple Youth Stephanie Schwartz, who will depart at the end of the academic year to pursue new opportunities. We remain indebted to her for her dedication and thoughtfulness, as well as the many contributions she brought to our community over the past two years, from our fun and meaningful family programs to our Hebrew and Jewish values curriculum to our fantastic teen experience. We are deeply grateful to Stephanie and wish her the best in her future endeavors.

The year ahead holds many opportunities for us as a community. In the coming weeks, I will connect with you to explore the best options for you and your children as you map out their Jewish journeys. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] or 310.889.2211 with any questions. I look forward to making meaning and changing the world together with you, this year and in the years to come.

Rabbi Josh Knobel
Director, Center for Youth Engagement