Beit Sefer B’yahad/United Jewish School 2015-2016


. . . to give the children of Congregation Ahavas Israel and Temple Emanuel the best possible Jewish education we can envision."

United Jewish School established 2006

Board of Directors          

Amy Winkelman; co-chair, Rhonda Pappas; co-chair,  Allyson Cole-Strauss, Elisabeth Rosewall, Amy Singer, Rick Rinzler, Erica Wikander


Pam Rush; School Director,

Barb Duchemin; Curriculum Director, Rabbi David Krishef, Rabbi Michael Schadick

UJS was established in 2006 as a combined school between Temple Emanuel and Congregation Ahavas Israel.  Enrollment is at 138 students ranging from                 Gan Katan  (2-4 year olds) to 11th/12th grade.  We have a staff of 29 teachers and 6 high school madrichim (aides).  On Sunday, school is located at Temple Emanuel while the Wednesday midweek Hebrew program is housed at Congregation Ahavas Israel.  There is an additional location for our midweek Hebrew program in Holland, MI.  The supplemental Hebrew program has an enrollment of 53 students.


Check out the United Jewish School Facebook page.  It is a closed group.  Teachers post pictures and comments pertaining to their classes every week.  What a great way to bring the school into your home.


Hebrew Program.  Students are still able to choose a Wednesday session and/or an early Sunday morning session (not to be confused with regular Sunday school session).  By tweaking the class schedule more students are able to enroll in our enhanced program.

Our digital program is still a success.  This program is divided into early Hebrew; Tiyulim, developed by Torah Aura and advanced Hebrew, Hineni developed by Behrman House.

Tiyulim means "journey."  The book and digital app is the path towards mastering decoding skills for the Hebrew language.  It is punctuated with a journey through the state of Israel.  This program is teacher led but can be enhanced with a digital app at home.

Hineni is a multiplatform integrated system for facilitating student development of Hebrew prayer comprehension and performance skills. Students can log on using a tablet (iOS or Android) or any PC or MAC computer to do work on their own. Hineni Prayer Booklets consist of the twenty key prayers.  Students are also able to record their reading at home and send to their Hebrew teacher for correction. This is being used in grades 2-7.   Our Pre-K, kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades have an introductory course in Hebrew taught only on Sundays.  Much of this introductory course is done through music.


The CHAI CurriculumThis program, also developed by the URJ and revised by Rabbi Krishef to include Conservative movement points of view, is being used in our 1st through 7th grades.  It is a curriculum based on Avodah (prayer), and Gimilut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness).  Each year builds on the previous one.  We are very excited about this program and confident that the students will enjoy the lessons and feel more comfortable with their Judaism.


High School ProgrammingWe are constantly striving to improve our high school program to prepare our children to become leaders with strong Jewish ideals.  We are very proud of the fact that so many of our high school students continue to attend religious school.  This is due to the creative and educational programming we present.  The 8th grade discovered Judaism through history.  The 9th/10th grade learned about Israel and Jewish American Immigration.  The 11th/12th grade meets in an informal classroom setting and has discussions of themes relevant to their age group.  They also are involved with social action projects and act as madrichim (aides) in the lower elementary classes on Sundays.


SPECIAL EVENTS     Programs made possible by the Rosenzweig-Coopersmith Foundation, Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids, Temple Emanuel, and Congregation Ahavas Israel


·        UJS continues to instill procedures to ensure the safety of staff and students while in the building.  This year we hired security to monitor our building on Sundays.

·        UJS continues to have an “open house” once a monthsponsored by the UJS Board.   All parents and others in our community are invited to come enjoy a “good” cup of coffee and a nosh, kibbitz with friends, surf the internet, visit the gift shop or just watch and relax.


Mitzvah and TzedakahThere are ongoing mitzvah and tzedakah projects throughout the year at UJS.

November– Food items were collected to make Thanksgiving dinners and donated to the Temple food bank for distribution.

December Mitzvah Mall– Over $2200 in donations were collected and shoppers received decorative gift cards to present to the person in whose honor the gift was purchased. The card indicated that a donation was made to a specific charity.  Tikun Olam - Together we can repair the world.

December– We collected gently used winter clothing for distribution to the Women’s Resource Center.

February and March– Tzedakah monies were sent to JNF to purchase trees in Israel.


10-4-15  Blessing of the PetsUJS held its annual Blessing of the Pets service.  Lots of dogs, cats, furry and not so furry animals were present to receive their special blessing.  Musical guest Marc Rossio also entertained with great music.


10-18-15 UJS Mitzvah DayEvery class participated in a mitzvah project for the morning. 


12-6-15 UJS Mitzvah Mall Instead of buying gifts during the holiday season the children along with their parents had an opportunity to “shop” at the Mitzvah Mall. Various organizations were represented by each class, including local, national or international non-profits.  Families shopped together and made donations on behalf of friends, family or others on their holiday gift list.  Shoppers received decorative gift cards to present to the person in whose honor the gift was purchased. What a mitzvah! Together we can help Repair the World – Tikkun Olam.  The school collected over $2000 for various non-profits in just 30 minutes.

12-13-15 “Chanukah Bowling Ball” and Kidz Klezmer Band

UJS celebrated Chanukah with the community.  We were entertained by the Kidz Klezmer Band from Detroit.  Students were then transported from religious school to Fairlanes Family Entertainment Center.  A wonderful kosher lunch was served by the Chabad House.

3-1-15 PurimUJS enjoyed the Purim carnival along with the larger Jewish community.  We hosted the cake walk booth and the Wii station.


4-17-16  UJS Passover SederUJS conducted two model Passover seders.  Pre-K – 4th enjoyed a mock seder all in rhyme led by Rabbi Schadick.  5th – 12th enjoyed a more adult seder led by Rabbi Krishef.  All accompanied with music by ‘The Marvelous Toy’ Marc Rossio.


5-1-16 UJS Jewish Film FestivalStudents were transported to Celebration Cinema to enjoy a free family matinee at the 18th annual GR Jewish Film Festival.  They enjoyed a great pizza lunch and popcorn at the cinema.


5-15-16 Yom Ha’atz’maut  In celebration of Yom Ha’atz’maut and the last day of school UJS had stations all over the building to celebrate Israel and all the school participated in over the past year.  We ended the day with an all school assembly congratulating our graduating seniors and honoring all our staff for the year.





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