Jewish Life & Learning
LGA is a lively, social community of families that come to the school with a wide range of experience and engagement with Judaism. Classroom and all-school activities, holiday celebrations, tikkun olam (repairing the world) and tzedakah (charity) projects provide students and families with multiple opportunities to explore and participate in Jewish life and culture. LGA engages and nurtures all students and families.
The school steps to the rhythm of the Jewish calendar. It strives to imbue in children a sense of the sanctity of Shabbat and the place of Jewish holidays in Jewish tradition. The school week builds toward Shabbat as the highlight of the week. In addition to classroom-based learning about Shabbat and Parashat HaShavua (the weekly Torah reading) and each Friday’s Kabbalat Shabbat celebration, the school sponsors an annual family Shabbaton retreat in the spring
Tikkun Olam is the cornerstone of LGA’s educational philosophy and is put into action in many ways. Each year, all grades select a Tikkun olam topic of study and undertake related projects to better the world. Current and past projects include kindergarten students visiting and socializing with the elderly residents at Ruth’s House, a Jewish assisted living facility, the 2nd grade selling hand-made cards to raise money for the homeless, and 6th grade cooking and donating food for the Amherst Survival Center’s Thanksgiving day meal. As a whole, the school also collects tzedakah, recycles paper and plastic, and promotes email communication and 2-sided copies to cut back on paper. The school is also committed to non-toxic ground care services provided by Safelawn.
At LGA, we communally acknowledge and celebrate all Jewish Holidays through a combination of performance, social activities, learning experiences, special visitors, and family events. For example, Hanukkah is celebrated with a school-wide assembly with performances by each grade. For Purim, the 6th grade creates, composes and performs an original Purim Shpiel (a Purim comedy in English). Shabbat is celebrated weekly with Kiddush, which includes songs, prayer, stories, and discussions. To celebrate Rosh Hodesh (the new month) the entire school community including parents, siblings and guests, gathers together for Kabbalat Shabbat.
Our Judaics curriculum includes the rich history, culture and traditions of the State of Israel. We learn about and celebrate holidays that correspond to the Jewish calendar and which mark important milestones for the country including Yom Hazikaron, Yom Ha’atzmaut, Yom HaShoah. LGA participates in the Young Emissary Program (Shlichim) sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts. Each fall two recent Israeli high school graduates come to Western Mass for an entire school year. They live with local families and spend a day each week in a variety of classrooms, Jewish and non-Jewish from kindergarten through college. Our Emmissaries/Shlichim spend one day a week at LGA, sharing their love for Israel with our students.