Congregation Ner Shalom

Community School for Jewish Learning: "J School"

A Bigger Community

Ner Shalom is proud to co-sponsor the Community School for Jewish Learning - known as "J School" - alongside B'nai Israel Jewish Center of Petaluma. By joining together, we have built an exciting, engaging and diverse student body and parent community. We offer our children a strong peer group, critical mass in their classes, fun, friendship, Hebrew, history, art, nature and tzedakah.

Educational Goals

~ Raising menschn enveloped in Jewish spirituality ~

At J School, we involve our students in:
  • Lashon Hakodesh – our holy language of Hebrew, in prayer, text and song
  • Torah – our sacred text, our library and the values they teach us: how to live them and how to talk about them
  • Moadim – our holy days and what they mean historically, ritually and psychospiritually
  • Derech Eretz – "the way of the world" — how to live an ethical life based on millennia of Jewish teachings
Our students learn...
  • What does it mean to be Jewish?
  • What is tzedakah?
  • What is a sacred community?
  • What is holy work and who does it?
  • How can the Torah inform how we live and act in the world today?
  • How does our story of liberation inspire us to liberate others?
  • How do we infuse our days, weeks and years with meaning and connections?
  • How are we connected to our people and the natural world through time and place and purpose?
  • How are we connected to Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel), Am Yisrael (the people of Israel) and Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel)?
  • How can prayer affect what we do?
  • How can prayers come off the page and out into the world?
We want for our children... learn and practice Jewish values, increase their Jewish literacy, deepen their sense of spirituality and build lasting friendships with their classmates.

Where, When & How

Students are grouped by K-2, 3-4, and 5-7 grades, and then post-B'nei Mitzvah. Students in our younger grades study mitzvot, Torah stories and holidays, and learn basic Hebrew through movement and song. Our oldest class learns Hebrew decoding, prayer, Jewish values and Jewish history, all in a way that allows them to understand the beauty, wisdom and relevance of Jewish tradition to their own life experience. We use art, music, drama, cooking and engagement with nature, and of course texts to bring Judaism alive.

The 5th-7th class also prepares Bar/Bat Mitzvah students through learning prayer, melodies, Torah trope, and ways to understand and relate to Torah text. J School is also open to young people who have chosen not to have a B-Mitzvah ceremony. Understanding the role of an adult in the Jewish community and in this world is relevant to all our kids.

High schoolers who participate in our Torah Lishmah (learning for its own sake) class explore areas of Jewish interest that they choose. Over the past years this has included mysticism, Biblical history, messianism, Hebrew poetry, folklore and humor. This class, taught by Reb Irwin Keller, is typically held in a café over hot chocolate. (Perks of growing up.)

Special Needs Track

J School is proud to collaborate with a special course of engagement for young people with serious disabilities and their families. Now in its eighth year, the Celebrations Program, in partnership with the Jewish Community Federation (JCF) of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties, offers a pioneering program for children and teens with special needs who cannot comfortably participate in a traditional religious school setting. Click here to find out more about the "Celebrations" class and community.
Hours and Schedule

2016-2017 School Year starts on September 11, 2016!
Our academic calendar will soon be available in this psot.

All K-7th grade students meet together on Sundays from 9:00 to 11:30. We start with a circle of song, story and prayer for the whole community—students, parents and teachers. Afterwards, students and teachers go to their classrooms to learn together. The 5th-7th graders stay for a pizza lunch and an extra hour of study.

This year, sessions are held at B'nai Israel Jewish Center, 740 Western in Petaluma.

Ready to Get Involved?

You can register your children on line by clicking here.

For more information on J School, contact Reb Mia Cohen or Leslee Lauritzen by e-mail at or by phone at (707) 762-0340.

And don't let money stop you. Tuition scholarships may be available for families who need them.


Congregation Ner Shalom
A Reconstructionist Synagogue
of Sonoma & Marin Counties

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