The welcoming nature of our community is a core reason why parents enroll their students at LGA. Our active community of parents get involved in all aspects of school life – helping out with class events and field trips, opening up their homes for events and serving on our Board of Directors. All families are encouraged to become involved in with LGA, which provides students and families with multiple opportunities to engage with and support their greater community. Joining our PTO, which organizes many activities both in and out of school throughout the year, is a fun and easy way to meet new people.
Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath), celebrated weekly at school, at the end of the day on Friday, is a joyous time at LGA. When entering LGA on Fridays the delicious smell of challah, lovingly made by our kindergarten students permeates the building. Three Fridays per month, students usher in Shabbat in their classrooms through singing and prayers, blessings over the wine and challah and the lighting of candles. To add to the Shabbat rituals, stories are read aloud, instruments are played and engaging discussions take place. On Rosh Hodesh, which is the new month, the entire school community gathers, including parents, siblings and guests, in our multi-purpose room for Kabbalat Shabbat.
LGA students get involved in the greater Pioneer Valley community in numerous ways: they have performed at Northampton’s January MLK Celebration and the opening of the new bus route at the Northampton Survival Center. They have shown their appreciation for Northampton’s City workers – the mayor and his staff, police and fire departments, the Department of Public Works and Cooley Dickinson Hospital Emergency Room staff – by baking cookies and delivering them. They harvest crops at Abundance Farm and donate them to the Northampton Survival Center, they prepare meals for the Northampton Cot Shelter, they run food drives and pajama drives, and assist at the Amherst Survival Center Thanksgiving Community meal.
There are many ways parents, grandparents and special friends can catch a glimpse of what makes LGA such a special place. We are especially proud of moments of community gathering.
Monday Morning Meeting – The entire community is welcome to join the entire student body and faculty on Monday mornings from 8:20 – 8:40 AM, for singing, celebrating, class presentations and much more.
Kabbalat Shabbat – The entire community is welcome to join students in celebrating Kabbalat Shabbat at 2:40 PM on long Fridays in the fall and spring, and at 1:55 PM on short Fridays in winter. The entire school gathers for a ruach (spirit) filled all-school Kabbalat Shabbat led by Judaic studies and music faculty or splits into smaller groups to celebrate Kabbalat Shabbat in classrooms. Please see the school calendar for all school Kabbalat Shabbat dates.
School Assemblies – Throughout the year, LGA has a number of assemblies for holidays and class presentations to which parents are invited. Increasingly, we try to make use of technology by live-streaming some events so that extended family and friends may also join us.
Keep up with the Gan/Kindergarten Through Blogposts at The Gan @ LGA – Kindergarten teacher Amy Meltzer blogs about projects taking place in the kindergarten.
At LGA, we communally acknowledge and celebrate all Jewish Holidays through performances, social activities, learning experiences, special visitors, and family events. For example, Hanukkah is celebrated with a school-wide assembly that includes performances by each grade. For Purim, the 6th grade creates, composes and performs an original Purim Shpiel (a Purim comedy in English).
Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath), celebrated weekly on Friday at the end of the school day is a joyous time at LGA. Three Fridays per month, Shabbat takes place in classrooms with some classes baking their own challah weekly. On Rosh Hodesh to celebrate the new month,the entire school community gathers, including parents, siblings and guests, in our multi-purpose room for Kabbalat Shabbat. All students participate – whether in their classrooms or at all-school Kabbalat Shabbat – in Kiddush, which includes songs, prayers, stories, and discussions.
Through the support of the Harold Grinpoon Foundation, the Family Education program includes at least one grade specific shared experience for families. The dates for these events, which link directly to the grade’s curriculum, can be found on the school calendar. In addition, there is a school wide family Shabbaton retreat in the spring and other special events.
LGA participates in the Young Emissary Program (Shlichim) sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts. Each year two recent Israeli high school graduates come to Western Mass for an entire school year. They live with local families and spend one day per week at LGA, sharing their love for Israel with our students.