Religious School – A to Z Guide

An alphabetical overview of all things related to the Religious School…


The Goldsmith Religious School Building of Congregation Emanu-El is located at 10 East 66th Street. Unless otherwise noted, students enter and leave from this location only. Classes start at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays and 4:00 p.m. on Mondays. Parents should make every attempt to have their children arrive to school on time. Latecomers should go directly to their first period location without causing any disruption to the class in session.

A-TEEM: The Assistant Temple Emanu-El Madrichim (Leaders) program provides an opportunity for leadership and involvement in administrative and academic components of the Religious School. A-TEEM is a learning, working and teaching leadership program geared to involve ninth through 12th graders in all aspects of Religious School activities. For more information or to participate, please contact .

It is critical that each student attend class on a regular basis in order to learn the material covered throughout the year. We therefore expect that students be present every week school is in session. In the event that a student must miss a session, parents are asked to contact the Religious School office in advance so that we may notify the teacher and arrange for appropriate make-up work as needed. If we are not notified of an absence in advance, then parents should expect an email from their child’s teacher to make sure that everything is okay at home.

Back to top


Being called to the Torah as a bar or bat mitzvah provides an opportunity for communal recognition of a major milestone in the lives of our families. Approximately 60 children will celebrate becoming a bar or bat mitzvah this year at Temple Emanu-El. Members have the opportunity of participating either at the public worship service on Shabbat morning or at a private family service that may be scheduled Saturday afternoon or evening. There is no “doubling up”; only one child becomes a bar/bat mitzvah at a given service.

A date for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah service may be scheduled beginning in 3rd grade. Any child who is becoming a bar or bat mitzvah at Congregation Emanu-El is enrolled automatically in our Religious School and must remain enrolled to continue to hold the date for the service. To schedule a date, please contact the membership department at 212-507-9515 or . To discuss issues related to the preparation and ritual of calling a bar/bat mitzvah to the Torah, including tutoring, please contact .

Back to top


Students are requested to keep cell phones OFF during Religious School hours. Should parents need to make contact with their children, they should call the Religious School office: 212-507-9546.

Through participation in school wide events, classroom teaching visits and private tutoring sessions, all members of the clergy play an active role in the Religious School and education of our students.

Our school is one in which all individuals, whether students or staff members, expect to be treated fairly and with respect. All of our students, from youngest to oldest, are participants in the creation of an environment conducive for learning. Students are expected to be courteous and respectful at all times, to cooperate with teachers, and to follow class rules. In the older grades, students take greater responsibility for setting the classroom norms that allow them to most benefit from each lesson. We expect our students to take their role as stakeholders in the learning experience seriously by arriving ready to fully participate in class each week. If any student’s behavior interferes with a classmate’s ability to learn, then we understand this to mean that the student is excluding him or herself from the classroom community.

The Confirmation Program, open to high school students in ninth and tenth grades, is a series of 15 structured yet informal educational sessions, or “steps,” over the course of the academic year. Each step in the journey towards confirmation combines text study, experiential education, and personal reflection with community- and character-building activities. Students are required to attend all sessions. The year concludes with the confirmation ceremony.

Back to top


Please note: to minimize mixing of groups during COVID, day switching is not currently permitted on a week-to-week basis.

If a student’s schedule prohibits them from attending Religious School on their regular day for an extended period (more than 3 weeks), parents can request a temporary day switch. Please call the Religious School office at 212-507-9546 or send an email to to notify us of the start and end date of the requested switch. We will coordinate with your child’s teachers to ensure that students are placed in the appropriate class(es).


School ends at 12:00 p.m. on Sundays and 6:00 p.m. on Mondays. Unless otherwise noted, dismissal is from the lobby of the Goldsmith Religious School Building of Congregation Emanu-El, located at 10 East 66th Street. For the security and safety of all children, parents and caregivers must come into the building lobby to collect their children. No student will be allowed to leave Religious School unescorted or prior to daily dismissal without written permission from the child’s legal guardian. In case of an emergency or a last-minute change, parents should call the Religious School office at 212-507-9546 for instructions. If a student has not been picked up within 15 minutes of the end of school, then the student will be brought up to the Religious School office until a parent or guardian arrives. Parents requiring a late pick-up should contact the office so that we can make proper arrangements.

Please see the sections on “Early Dismissal” and “Flash Passes” for related information.

Back to top


If a student must leave school early, then parents should contact the Religious School office in advance by phone at 212-507-9546, by email at , or by sending their child to school with a note. Parents should provide the time that their child will be leaving and whether or not their child has parent/guardian permission to travel from the classroom to the lobby unaccompanied. Students leaving early must carry a green flash pass or be escorted by an adult with a red flash pass. Please note that, for the safety of our students, under no circumstances will we allow a student to leave early without written or verbal permission from the child’s parent or guardian.

Students arriving early on Mondays will be supervised in our Early Room, beginning at 3:30 p.m. The Early Room is located in Blumenthal Hall, which is one flight down from the 66th Street lobby. Students are welcome to socialize or do homework. Once a month, students are invited to participate in a mitzvah activity. A light snack is provided.

Back to top


We endeavor to build a faculty of distinction, by hiring creative, passionate professionals to be our educators, who model the values and ideas of the community and inspire a journey of lifelong learning. Through faculty meetings, supervision, evaluation and professional-development opportunities, faculty members will have the opportunity to learn and grow as educators.

We believe that when our students participate together with their families in learning experiences, worship and communal holiday celebrations, they get more out of them, make more friends and simply have more fun. In all our programs, we create an environment in which families can explore Judaism together while forging strong connections to the Emanu-El community. For families with children preparing to become a bar or bat mitzvah, we offer a series of “mini-retreats” in the years leading up to this life-cycle event. There are many opportunities each and every month to learn, volunteer, worship and socialize with other families.

In order to ensure the safety of our students during arrival and dismissal, we require families to provide on our student registration form the names of any adults who have permission to drop off and pick up their children or to indicate that their children may exit unaccompanied. Families will receive a sufficient number of “red” flash passes to accommodate any adults who have such permission. These flash passes must be shown to the security officer upon entering and exiting the building at arrival and dismissal. Students who are allowed to leave on their own will receive a “green” flash pass, which must be presented by the students upon dismissal. If a student’s dismissal information changes or if parents need additional flash passes, please contact the .

Back to top


We aim to support the specific needs of every child in our program, and we strive to create and maintain a healthy environment for all children. If a child has any special health or learning needs, then please let us know by speaking with the Director or Assistant Director of Lifelong Learning or by documenting special needs on the registration form. All of our school faculty and administration are trained in CPR and the use of an Epi-Pen. School personnel are not permitted to dispense medication to our students.

In grades 3 and up, students may receive a modest amount of homework each week. This enables classroom time to be used more efficiently and enriches discussions of the topic at hand. For Hebrew classes, students are asked to review whatever new material has been studied that week, as repetition is a critical component of language acquisition. Hebrew homework often is done through online resources/websites. All students are expected to complete the homework assignments and to come prepared for class after an absence. While the actual time required to complete assignments will vary, if a child is spending an inordinate amount of time doing homework, we suggest that parents contact the child’s teacher(s).

Back to top


Temple Emanu-El periodically organizes a trip to Israel that is designed to be equally appropriate for adults and kids, family and friends. We explore Israel from the Negev Desert to the Golan Heights, from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, and everywhere in-between. The next Israel trip will be announced soon.

Back to top


Temple Emanu-El is a Reform Jewish congregation. When it comes to ritual traditions, we support personal choice based on learning, reflection and experimentation. In that spirit, students in our Religious School are invited to experiment with the wearing of kippot and other Jewish ritual garments. Kippot are available for use in our prayer spaces, so that students and parents will have the opportunity to make their own choice about whether to wear one or not each time they enter a prayer service. Students always are welcome to bring their own kippah from home. Senior Rabbi Joshua Davidson notes: “The kippah…a custom, not a commandment…instills humility before the Almighty, reminding us of God above.” Learn more about Temple Emanu-El’s approach to ritual from Rabbi Davidson’s Rosh Hashanah 2013 sermon.


Temple Emanu-El’s Stettenheim Library is open during Religious School hours. We invite parents and caregivers to spend time in the library and make use of the library’s online computers, study carrels and gracious Klau Reading Room. The Stettenheim Library maintains a collection of more than 15,000 items focusing on materials about Jews and Judaism. The library provides Judaica materials and relevant programming to enhance the religious and intellectual life of the congregation’s members and staff. The children’s book collection serves children from toddlers through the teens as well as their parents. Through class visits to the library, teachers utilize appropriate books and media to expose the Religious School students to Jewish holidays, Israel, Bible heroes, folktales, fiction, the Holocaust, contemporary biographies, mitzvot and other Jewish values. The library also has a media collection including recorded books, DVDs and videos, and music CDs. Parents are invited to explore the library while their children are in Religious School.

Lost-and-found items are kept in the Religious School office. Students who find an item without identifying information should bring it to the Religious School office. If a student loses something, parents should contact the as soon as possible, and we will make every effort to recover the lost item.


Students are permitted to attend Religious School at Congregation Emanu-El for up to one academic year as non-members, at a modified tuition rate. After one year the student’s legal guardian must become a member of the congregation for the student to continue in Religious School. Only members may reserve Bar/Bat Mitzvah dates. For membership information, please contact the or download an application.

The Herbert and Eileen Bernard Museum of Judaica of Temple Emanu-El features three galleries of Jewish art, religious ornaments and temple memorabilia that are noted for their striking beauty and rarity. Our teachers and museum staff create a hands-on, interactive experience using the museum’s collection to explore Jewish history and tradition. Using the resources of the museum and the temple (from a 14th-century menorah to discovering hidden spaces in the Fifth Avenue Sanctuary), we seek to enhance the classroom experience for our students as well as strengthen their link to Emanu-El’s history.

Music features predominately into our active curriculum. For a Spotify list of songs we sing in our Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 2 classes with Cantor Glazman, click here.  For a sampling of songs we sing at Shabbat Kodesh Family Worship services, click here.

Back to top


During the school year (September-May), office hours for the Department of Lifelong Learning are:
• Sunday 8:30 AM to 1:30 PM
• Monday 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM
• Tuesday 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM
• Wednesday 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM
• Thursday 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM
Please note that we are closed on Fridays and Saturdays as well as legal and Jewish holidays. During summer vacation, our office is open Monday through Thursday from 9:30 AM to 6 PM and Friday from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM.

Back to top


Our Religious School has a long history of active parent participation and dedication. The Parents Association Steering Committee works in close participation with our clergy and the staff of the Department of Lifelong Learning to set the agenda and establish the priorities for innovation and change in our school-age programs. These volunteers provide a means by which all parents may voice suggestions and concerns about our programs. Their primary concern is to build community among the families of the school and the synagogue. To get involved, please contact the .

Throughout the year, both in class and at special events, we take photographs of our students and their families. These photographs are used for our end-of-the-year slideshow at our closing assemblies. We also post photographs of school and family activities on sections of the congregational website and on the congregation’s social media channels. It is our policy to not identify any children by name in our materials. Parents who do not wish for Congregation Emanu-El to use photographs of their children on our website or in our publicity should please indicate this on their registration form or contact the .

Students will be placed in classes according to grade, class size and previous Hebrew background. To build classroom community, we endeavor to honor students’ requests to be placed with friends. Final decisions regarding placement are made by the director of Lifelong Learning. Parents wishing to discuss their child’s placement should contact the .

Back to top


We hope to return to gathering for meals this year. Please watch the weekly Lifelong Learning Email for details!

Throughout the school year we hold Shabbat dinners open to temple families and their guests. These dinners provide an opportunity for our community to meet and socialize. Dinners are appropriate for all age groups, and age-appropriate activities for the students (such as mitzvah projects, art activities, storytelling and games) are offered at each dinner. The fee per family (up to two adults and any number of children) is $55 before the deadline and $75 after the deadline. Teens (eighth through 12th graders), if unaccompanied by an adult: $15 each. Additional Adults: $18 each.

Religious School With Honors was created to acknowledge the important part our students play in the Temple Emanu-El community above and beyond the time that they are with us for our regular weekly program. We know that living in New York City provides many opportunities to do just about anything at any given moment. And, we appreciate that so many of our families choose to join Temple Emanu-El for events outside of Religious School hours. This is our way of recognizing students’ ongoing commitment to our community.

To qualify for Religious School With Honors at Congregation Emanu-El, students in Pre-K through Sixth Grade must fill out the Application Form and submit it to the Religious School office for approval. Students need to earn five points to achieve Honors status; forms may be submitted as soon as this is achieved. Points are earned by attending Temple events outside of Religious School hours or by participating in certain programs.

Back to top


The Religious School schedule is as follows:
• Sundays, 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM, Pre-Kindergarten through Eighth Grade
• Mondays, 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM, Pre-Kindergarten through Eighth Grade

To download our Religious School calendar to your phone, please click here.

Our High School Confirmation program has a separate schedule; please click on the above links for the full calendars.

Religious School families will be notified about school closings via email; parents should make sure we have their current email address on file. Or, parents may call the Religious School office at 212-507-9546.

All security procedures are enforced strictly at all times. Please be advised that our security officers have the right, at any time, to inspect any individual as he or she enters or exits the Marvin and Elisabeth Cassell Community House (One East 65th Street), the Fifth Avenue Sanctuary (Fifth Avenue and 65th Street) or the Goldsmith Religious School Building (10 East 66th Street). The Religious School provides security and safety supervision for students arriving/departing by bus or by car, as well as for students arriving by foot to 10 East 66th Street. The temple cannot maintain security for those students being dropped off or picked up at any other location.

At Shabbat Kodesh, worship in Hebrew is made accessible though lively music and English explanations. The service is similar to the Tefilah conducted in our Religious School each week and enables our students to build a prayer community with their families, friends and other Emanu-El members. Services are followed by an Oneg Shabbat with food, drink and time to socialize.

On Mondays, a light snack is provided for all students in the classroom during school and in the Early Room prior the start of school. Students also may bring a small snack from outside, preferably to be eaten prior to the start of the school day. Because of food and airborne allergies, we endeavor to keep our building free of nuts and foods containing nut products. Please note that food and beverages are not permitted in the Lowenstein Auditorium or in the Fifth Avenue Sanctuary. If you would like to further discuss food allergies with the school, please contact .

Back to top


The Teen Leadership Council, made up of representatives from each of our teen groups and general teen representatives, helps bring together our teen community. The council plans events for leaders across the teen programs, organizes community-service activities for all Emanu-El teens, and facilitates teen engagement with such templewide events as Mitzvah Day and the Purim Carnival. Council members come together at monthly meetings, where they learn and utilize leadership skills to engage the Temple Emanu-El teen community. For more information, contact .

How would you use $10,000 to help New York City? This committee has been tasked with just that responsibility by Temple Emanu-El’s Philanthropic Committee. Eighth graders through 12th graders come together monthly to go through the grant-making process. Students choose an issue affecting New Yorkers about which they care, create a mission statement, and design an application that nonprofit organizations will use to request a grant. Committee members go on site visits to see what the organizations are doing and to decide who is deserving of the committee’s grant! The year culminates in a check-presentation ceremony. The committee meets one weekday evening a month. There is no fee for this committee, but teens are encouraged to make a donation of $36 or more to Temple Emanu-El’s Philanthropic Fund. For more information, contact .

An integral part of the Religious School curriculum is Tefilah (Worship). Our goal is for our students to become familiar with the Reform liturgy, to understand the prayers and meanings, and to be able to pray in a variety of Jewish communal settings. Each Religious School session for grades 3 through 6 includes Tefilah. Students in Kindergarten through Second Grade begin to learn the prayers through their music curriculum. Parents and other adult members of a student’s family always are welcome to join us for Tefilah.

Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) offers temple members of all ages a wide variety of opportunities to volunteer to help those less fortunate in the community. Information about Tikkun Olam programs can be found on the temple website. Questions should be directed to the .

Please visit the Religious School Applications page for fee and tuition information, including early registration discount information. This includes all costs for books and supplies. These fees support all of the family-oriented programs organized by the Department of Lifelong Learning, including Shabbat Kodesh services, our youth groups and the Congregational Purim Carnival. All fees associated with the Congregation Emanu-El Religious School are nonrefundable. All billing issues are handled by the temple’s membership office. Fees for registration in the Religious School are in addition to membership dues. Please note that in order to hold the date on our calendar, any child who is becoming a bar or bat mitzvah at Congregation Emanu-El must be enrolled in our Religious School.

The mitzvah of righteous giving is an integral part of our Religious School program. Our goal is for students to see themselves both as advocates for organizations whose work they value and as young philanthropists. Tzedakah is collected weekly during school. Recipient organizations are chosen by our students. For more information about our tzedakah programs, see The Case for Tzedakah in Jewish Education.

Back to top


There are so many events that go on in the Religious School and temple overall, sometimes we need a few extra hands. Not only can volunteering result in much-needed help to the temple, but it also can strengthen a family’s connection to the Emanu-El community. Parents interested in learning about the many opportunities to volunteer in the school and beyond (preparing mailings, assembling holiday gifts, running a booth at the Purim Carnival, helping with registration, chairing an event, working in the library, ushering during High Holy Days, Tikkun Olam projects and more!) should contact .