Kesher (Religious School)

Kesher means “connection." Kesher is one of two Or Ami K-6 youth learning programs (Mishpacha Alternative Family Learning is the other program). At Congregation Or Ami, we believe that Jewish education should nurture our students and leave them with a love of Judaism, a love of Congregation Or Ami as their synagogue and second home, and an understanding and appreciation for why Judaism and Or Ami are sacred in their lives. We seek to foster within each child in Kesher the knowledge, skills and attitude needed:

  • To act ethically in daily life based on Jewish values;
  • To observe Jewish rituals at home and in the synagogue in meaningful ways;
  • To participate comfortably in Shabbat and Holy Day services; and
  • To appreciate the centuries of Jewish history, literature and civilization contributing to the strength and survival of the Jewish people and Israel.


In Kesher, Hebrew and Judaica studies are integrated, yet reading and chanting Hebrew prayers is taught separately. The day includes community building, interactive learning about Judaism, Hebrew through movement, t'filah (creative prayer experiences) and "Rap with the Rabbis". Dinner is available for purchase to eat during community time. Classes meet:

  • Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade  classes meet once weekly on Wednesdays from 4:00-6:00 pm, with an optional homework/playtime from 6:00-7:00 pm.
  • 4th, 5th and 6th grade classes meet once weekly, on either Tuesdays or Wednesdays from 4:00-7:00 pm. 


Why My Three Children Loved Going to Religious School 
By Caryl Kaplan

For me, "being Jewish" IS mostly about heritage and family traditions. Let's just say that I HATED going to Religious School so much that I debated whether or not to make my children suffer through it as I did, or tutor them for Bar Mitzvah and let them learn about Judaica and the holidays through our family experiences and traditions at home.

Being a member of Or Ami has drastically changed my opinion. All three of my children LOVE going to Religious School and never complain about it. As a matter of fact they get angry with me. If we have other plans and they have to miss it! Let me also add that my husband, Gary and I are even enjoying learning together with them.

Back when they were younger, I asked my children, "What do you like about Or Ami's Religious School?” They responded:

Jordan (5th grade): “I LOVE my teacher. SHE IS THE BEST. She never says ‘sit down and use your book.’ She always uses games to teach us and it is lots of fun. I wish she could be my 5th grade teacher in public school."

Michael (3rd grade): “I also LOVE my teacher. She is really nice. She teaches us a lot. She always reads to us and makes it interesting. It is never boring and I like the Pizza!"

Alyssa (Kindergarten): “I LOVE Miss Patty. I wish she could come visit with us. I love having fun and making art projects. She even lets us color I love learning about the holidays.”  

All three children responded that they like learning from Rabbi Paul Kipnes because he teaches them about being Jewish in a way that they can understand. They say he is fun and he does not confuse them. They also expressed that they love to sing with Cantor Doug Cotler at Kesher and listen to his music in our car. Now with Rabbi Julia Weisz, the excitement has deepened even more.

At 6:15 p.m. (at the end of a very long day), my three children always come home enthusiastic and happy. They are always eager to share what they have learned in Kesher. WOW!!! It sure is a lot different now than it was then!!! "No Fair." We love going to Family services and celebrating all of the holidays with Congregation Or Ami! Thank you for bringing us back home to Judaism.

Or Ami Center For Jewish Parenting

Upcoming Program:

Confronting Attitude with Gratitude: Jewish Spiritual Parenting (and Grandparenting) Wisdom

Lecture and book signing with Rabbi Paul Kipnes and Michelle November MSSW. Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at 7:00-8:30 pm. Rabbi Paul and Michelle share time-tested insights and parenting perspectives to nurture gratitude, not attitude, within our children (and grandchildren). During a delicious dessert following the lecture, they will sign copies of their new book, Jewish Spiritual Parenting (Jewish Lights Publishing). RSVP.

At the Or Ami Center for Jewish Parenting, we know it is tough to be the parent (or grandparent) of a Jewish kid these days. We stay up nights wondering how to raise children with good values who know how to make good decisions. Our Center for Jewish Parenting offers a range of age-appropriate Jewish answers to help parents and grandparents enlighten and reassure younger, elementary and teenage children and become even better parents.

Our programs designed for parents of children with special needs are also offered. The Center for Jewish Parenting provides a venue for parents to connect, celebrate and support each other.

Topics and presentations include:

  • Raising Resilient Children in a Competitive World, with Dr.Wendy Mogel, New York Times best-selling parenting author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and  The Blessing of a B Minus
  • When Kids Step Over the Line: 6 Ways of Responding with Rabbi Paul Kipnes 
  • Freedom Song: One Family’s Struggle with Addiction – One Nation’s Path to Recovery, presented by Beit Teshuva
  • Body Image: Promoting Positive Self-Image and Acceptance in Adolescents, presented by Jewish Family Service Los Angeles
  • Get it Right: Communication with your Kid with Drew Kugler
  • How the internet is impacting your child’s development
  • How to keep your child safe in a world with social media
  • Sacred Choices: Leading your child to make healthy holy decisions about sex and sexuality



Bar/Bat Mitzvah Toolbox

Blessing the Torah (for your Aliyah)Torah Blessings (in Hebrew, English and transliteration)

Listen to the blessings and practice:

Before (slow), Before (normal speed), After (slow), After (normal speed)

Watch how the blessings are done (YouTube video)

Mitzvah Project Planning Tools:

Introduction to the MP process
Mitzvah Project Planning Guide 
Mitzvah Project Resources
Mitzvah Project Share Form

Questions? Contact Project Coordinator Cathy Rutkin

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Handbook: 

Everything you need to know
Tikkun Olam (Social Justice)