CEC Religious School
At Congregation Etz Chaim, we have a very special Nationally Accredited Religious School. All of our Judaica faculty volunteer each week to teach our students. Our Hebrew faculty is very skilled and provides our 3rd through 7th grade student’s excellent preparation for participating in and leading congregational worship. Our entire faculty is made up of some 70 people. Many of our faculty are long time congregants as well as parents of our students. We have been excited to be able to celebrate so many significant anniversaries of so many of our faculty, some of whom have worked as part of our Religious School faculty for 25 years.
Our Religious School, grades Pre-K through 10th grade, meet at Etz Chaim on Sunday mornings. We also have a mid-week Hebrew program for students in 3rd-7th grade who attend on Wednesday afternoons.
Congregation Etz Chaim Religious School Mission Statement
We strive to achieve our mission through:
- Teaching Judaica, Prayer and Hebrew
- Creating an environment for family involvement and participation
- Fostering Jewish family living
- Providing creative and innovative programs
- Building Jewish self-esteem
- Expressing warmth, respect and concern towards all members of our school community
- Helping the children feel at home in the synagogue and making it a key part of their lives
- Imparting a positive connection to the land of Israel
- Developing within our students an abiding commitment to and love for Judaism
- Connecting our children to Israel so they have an understanding of and feel a relationship to the land and its people
Congregation Etz Chaim Religious School Philosophy
At Etz Chaim, we are committed to fostering an abiding commitment to and love for Judaism in our students. Our curriculum has been developed to give our children a positive feeling about their heritage as well as the foundation for understanding the three main precepts of Judaism: God, Torah and Israel.
The process of preparing our children to take Torah into their own arms and to hold it close to their hearts has several aspects: Developing and strengthening a firm identity as Jews and adding to this foundation of Jewish identity the structure of Jewish knowledge.
Working under the direction of our full-time Religious School Princiapal Marla Friedman, the teachers and staff of the religious school are mostly congregational volunteers. Our curriculum has been recognized by the Community Foundation for Jewish Education as one of the finest in the Chicago area. The curriculum for each grade can be found in the Religious School Handbook.
Through the classes in our religious school, we help our students develop a mastery of Jewish tradition, history, Hebrew language, Bible, and Jewish thought. Because we believe strongly that curriculum and teachers can only do part of the job, we have made family learning a priority in the school. Each year we have a variety of programs involving the parents so that the seeds we plant at school can be developed and nurtured at home. When children see their parents actively involved, they see that Jewish education is important, lifelong, and does not end with Bar/Bat Mitzvah or Confirmation.
Jewish youths who know they are Jewish and what that means to them are prepared to take the Torah and hold it close. For them, the Torah can truly be Etz Chaim—a Tree of Life.
The Etz Chaim religious school is committed to fully accepting all students, providing all a place to belong both in the classroom and our congregational community.
This is at the heart of our Inclusion Initiative.
We welcome your family to participate in synagogue life, and to partner with us in choosing your child’s Jewish learning goals. Also, tell us about the best ways to work with your child. No one knows this better than you.
This program includes individualized attention for students in the Hebrew school grades. Our Inclusion Initiative is about strong family involvement, fun Jewish learning, and supporting every student’s Jewish educational journey.
Our School in Action
Congregation Etz Chaim of DuPage County, a Reform synagogue in Lombard, serves almost 500 families in the western suburbs of Chicago. We have a tradition of having an inclusive community which welcomes everyone- Jews by birth, Jews by choice, non-Jewish family members, singles, LGBTQIA2+ and people of all ages and abilities. We are a caring community that draws strength on our commitment to honor and respect the diversity of our membership.