Madrichim at Religious School
Temple Solel is known for its Madrichim program. Madrichim, which means teacher’s assistant, has been a training ground for our 8-12 graders who want to take an active role in working with students and families in our temple. It is a role they take on when they want to give back to the temple, continue their own Jewish education, and become leaders within the Jewish community.
This program is led by Andrea Eisen, an outstanding educator, who has taken the Madrichim class to a higher
level. Not only does she work with our Madrichim as to how best to engage the students, but she works with our faculty as to how best to use the Madrich/cha in the classroom. Andrea, who has given structure and purpose to the Madrichim program brings years of experience to our religious school. She is a wonderful resource for our students and for that I thank her.
Director of Religious School
As a long time Jewish educator, I have learned along the way that the key to making the temple feel like “home” to our children lies not just with our teachers and rabbis, but with our teens. Keeping our post b’nai mitzvah students engaged and involved with the religious school and youth group helps not only the teens themselves, but our whole congregation.
Before the pandemic, Temple Solel was a very busy place on Sunday mornings! Filled with teenagers, as they were setting up to work in the classrooms, office or Bistro, they brought a level of enthusiasm that made the day feel special. Those teens are part of our fabulous Madrichim program. Madrichim is a Hebrew word that has come to mean student aides. Teens that participate in our Madrichim program serve as role models for the younger students.
If you have a child in 6th or 7th grade and you have been wondering what happens after b’nai mitzvah, the Madrichim program is the next step in your child’s Jewish education. When your child signs up for the Madrichim program they do not just help in a classroom. They must also be registered for religious school and continue their own Jewish education. I teach grades 8 and 9 and the rabbis teach grades 10-12. Their class time is during Religious school and it is an important piece of the Madrichim program. As role models they are showing the younger ones that Jewish learning does not stop after b’nai mitzvah. These classes explore things like Comparative Religion or Jewish Communities Around the World and cover current issues in the world looking at them from a Jewish perspective. They help our teens to go out in the world feeling like they have a deeper understanding of Judaism and about their own beliefs. Madrichim receive training on how to work in a classroom during our Madrichim meetings 4-5 times a year. These meetings take place on a weeknight separate from the bustle of Sunday morning religious school. We share dinner together while we troubleshoot what goes on in the classrooms and in the office. They learn about what it means to be a role model, how to create and present lesson plans, how to work with children, and how to be most helpful to the teacher. The best thing about these meetings is that I see the older Madrichim helping the younger ones with their words of wisdom from years of experience in the program. I see our Madrichim as the Jewish educators and leaders of the future.
I am particularly proud of our Madrichim program because of the commitment I see in the teens who participate. Currently we have 36 students participating in grades 8-12. This year has been a real challenge for our Madrichim since we did not have in-person learning. Many Madrichim actually chose to join their teachers on Zoom helping with breakout rooms and with some of the technical issues of being on the Zoom platform.
In August, when we are back in the building for classes, 8th grade Madrichim will work on a voluntary basis and get community service hours for their time, if they need it. Beginning in 9th grade, they can be paid a quarterly stipend or continue to volunteer as some choose to do. Paid or not, these teens take this job seriously and the children they work with grow to depend on seeing them each Sunday morning. They look forward to telling them about their new puppy or what happened to them in school and the Madrichim look forward to seeing their smiling faces, helping them learn the Alef-Bet, Jewish history or the next Jewish holiday. It is truly a win for both sides and helps to foster good feelings about time spent in religious school and at Temple Solel.
I truly hope you will talk to your 7-11 graders about joining the Madrichim program. Please feel free to contact Tobee Waxenberg, Director of Raker Religious School, if you have any questions or if you would like to talk with me, she will facilitate that as well.