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Fall 2019


The Temple Emanu-El Connection

Welcome to the digital version of the Temple Emanu-El newsletter.  If you or someone you know wishes to receive a printed version, please contact the office at 595-7521.  We welcome your feedback. Please send comments to









One way to understand the history of the Jewish people is through our dedication to and reverence for knowledge and understanding.  From the earliest days, those who could read were held in the highest regard.  They held a special place in society.  Our rite of passage – bar and bat mitzvah – culminates with reading a portion of the Torah. 

We are called upon to look for meaning in our long history through the thousands upon thousands of writings – Torah, Talmud, rabbinic literature, commentaries, Jewish law, Kabbalah and so very much more.  When we stop to reflect, education is at the core of our Jewish faith and Jewish life.  Having a thriving Jewish education program is one of the highest priorities for any congregation.  Thankfully, Temple Emanu-El’s has become a remarkable success.

We now have a place for everyone – of all ages – to study, to learn, to grow, and to be a part of a community of Jewish knowledge.  This issue focuses on youth education.  Next issue we will examine the many opportunities for adult learning.

The School of Jewish (SJS) studies encompasses classroom time, holiday programming, speakers, family activities, and more.  Parents are encouraged to become involved and participate in the Parent Hui that is also a part of the SJS.  There is even a parent-led security task force headed by Jamie Garcia that patrols the campus, making sure that everyone is safe.












             Rachel Garcia Coordinates Our Youth Education Programs


Coordinating the SJS is Rachel Garcia.  She and her family decided to make Hawaii home after her husband, Jamie, retired from the Army as a Lt. Colonel after 25 years of serving our country and got a job here.  They had been stationed here previously and decided—after moving 15 times—that  they wanted to make Hawaii their home.  Rachel and Jamie have two boys, Jacob, who is 12, and Joshua, who is 8.  Jacob is preparing for his bar mitzvah.

Rachel’s upbringing in upstate New York included large doses of ongoing Jewish education.  Her mother, father, and sister are all teachers.  In fact, her dad was on the staff of a yeshiva and a longtime religious educator, well-known in Rochester, NY.  Rachel’s professional career included a strong background in journalism/print media and also working as a reporter and TV news anchor.  She is currently a field editor for Taste of Home magazine.

After getting settled on Oahu, Rachel learned that the Temple was in need of help to coordinate the Jewish education programs, something she had assisted with at her last shul in Colorado Springs.  She is currently the youth program coordinator, and also a preschool and Hebrew school teacher.  The number of students involved is now 50-plus and growing.










The SJS Educational Vision is to have students become educated Jews who:

•  Connect with their Jewish community both here in Honolulu and around the world.

•  Integrate the cultural, moral and spiritual values of Judaism into their lives.

•  Cherish the language, history, text and homeland of the Jewish people


Nevatim Program pre-K.  Once a month.  Sundays.  10am – 11:30.

This class is basically an introduction to Jewish holidays and themes with the focus being mostly on holidays.  It is also a way to have young families meet, socialize, and get a taste of Temple life.  Rachel teaches this program along with co-teacher, Mehana Paul.  There are currently 10 families enrolled.


Kindergarten – 7th grade (SJS).  Sundays.  10am – 12:30pm 

The subject matter depends on grade.  Each grade has up to 10 goals within it including creating Jewish community,  life cycles, Jewish rituals and holidays, mitzvot and middot, prayers, Torah stories, liturgy, and introduction to the Hebrew language.  There is a morning shir – group prayer, and all families are invited to participate in the first 15 minutes of class.  The students then break off into classroom discussions.  There is also special programming, such as cooking classes,  Jewish calligraphy, and Israeli folk dancing.











SJS Teachers:

Kindergarten/1st grade –  Hannah Frankel

 2nd and 3rd   grades – Aviela Weltman and co-teacher Jade Unabia

 4th and 5th grades – May Nachum

6th grade and up – Jan Fried

Art teacher – Jackie Mild Lau


Kadima Program – Wednesdays 4:30 – 6:30  5th to 9th grade 

(called Hebrew School in our youth)

Teachers:  Aviela, Rachel and Rabbi

The curriculum is focused on Hebrew language, prayers, and liturgy, Torah and hoftorah study, primarily to prepare the students for their bar/bat mitzvah.  There are currently 10 students who are learning that their Jewish rite of passage is just part of the journey, not the end.  Once they are bar/bat mitzvah and graduate out of this class, they move on to kesher – some immediately, some after a short break.


Kesher 8th – 10th grade.  Monthly.  Sundays.  12:30 – 2pm

This class is taught by Rabbi Aronowitz and Judah Hoffenberg.  It is a continuation of Jewish learning that engages the students in more mature topics.


Confirmation  Class.  11th and 12th grade.  Monthly.  Sundays.  12:30 – 2pm

Teacher:  Rabbi Aronowitz

This is a privileged class that gets to work directly with rabbi.  Once they complete the program, there is a confirmation service.  Last year saw 4 confirmation graduates.


Temple Youth Group 

The students in the youth group named it YEET.  Hannah Frankel is the director for YEET.  They get together for  occasional social activities such as ice skating, escape room adventures or bowling.











One of the most exciting and encouraging aspects of our educational programs is that our young people who have passed their milestone bar or bat mitzvah often volunteer to help in classroom as a madrichim.  Some will even become paid staff.  They help out on campus both in the classroom and with service projects. 


Interested students must apply and be interviewed.  Currently there are 13 teens participating.  Rachel noted that the fact that they want to return and give back speaks volumes.  There are lots of places where, once someone has finished bar/bat mitzvah, they tend to disappear.

The future looks brighter than ever for Jewish education at Temple Emanu-El.  We salute Rachel, the teachers, madrichim, students, parents – everyone who is making our congregation such a vibrant learning community.

Thu, November 21 2019 23 Cheshvan 5780