ABOUT HEBREW LEARNING CIRCLES™
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Rabbi Reuben Modek
Dr. Simon Spivack
Mr. Marc Mallow
Mrs. Agi Nadai
Mr. Ed Wechsler
Mrs. Andrea Kot Parens
Our mission is to provide empowered access to Jewish learning, culture, and spirituality for the independent Jewish and interfaith family through education, celebration and commemoration in the home or at families’ location of choice. Our approach is inclusive, participatory and embracing of the values and lifestyle realities of the twenty-first century American Jewish and interfaith family.
WHAT IS A LEARNING CIRCLE?
A Hebrew Learning Circle for children is a home-schooling and Hebrew-school hybrid, that meets after regular school hours. It is called a Circle because students typically face one another as they sit around a dining room table or lounge together in the living room.
Learning Circles meet weekly just like synagogue Hebrew school classes. However, unlike Hebrew school, Learning Circles are not bound by a common calendar. Each Learning Circle is autonomous. Each Circle determines the length and frequency of its sessions. Each Circle can creatively pursue the specific educational needs and interests of its participating families.
We continually train as well as supervise our instructors to ensure delivery of a high quality Jewish educational experience based on a carefully crafted curriculum, and a high level of professional excellence.
The curriculum is designed to focus on Jewish knowledge and skills that enhance the student's competence, confidence, and positive Jewish identity. At the beginner's level these include: Hebrew reading, simple and common ritual skills, stories of our ancestors, knowledge of holidays, and songs. The curriculum dynamics allow for a rising level of challenge and sophistication to match the student's ongoing progress.
High quality instruction, combined with small size circles (7 students maximum), and a comfortable home environment, contribute to this unique educational experience.
HLC is an inclusive educational setting. We embrace the diversity of Jewish cultural and religious expression. We value, welcome, and work with students and families of all levels of Jewish life style, Jewish education, and Jewish background.
CORE EDUCATIONAL FEATURES
THE ORGANIZATIONAL MODEL
Rabbi Modek is the founder and director of the Hebrew Learning Circles ™. His four decades of Jewish community activism, extensive work in the field of Jewish education, personal creative and spiritual explorations, and formal Rabbinic studies led to his 2003 ordination by the Academy for Jewish Religion and the Aleph S'mikhah Program. A native Israeli, Rabbi Modek launched his career as educator with the Zionist youth movements Dror and HaShomer HaTza'ir. He first served as young group counselor and subsequently as youth center director in the towns of Haifa and Rehovot. After earning a degree in Social Work from Haifa University, Rabbi Modek moved to the USA where his passion for Jewish education and leadership were refocused. He since has served as classroom educator, Hebrew school principal, and rabbinic leader for Conservative, Reform, and Havurah communities.
Rabbi Modek draws upon an interdisciplinary palette of scholarship and creative accomplishment. As a certified instructor of Otiyot Hayyot, Living Letters, a movement art inspired by the forms and wisdom of the Hebrew letters, Rabbi Modek has taught workshops relating kinetics to Hebrew instruction and worship for students and educators at retreats, synagogues, and Hebrew schools in the USA, England and Israel.
During the past two decades, Rabbi Modek's educational work has concentrated upon teaching, directing and developing programs in a variety of settings. He has served in the Solomon Schechter Day School system, directed and taught classes in a number of synagogue Hebrew schools, and led creative youth programs at informal educational venues, such as the Aleph Kallah and the National Havurah Committee Summer Institutes. Rabbi Modek's current innovative approach was conceived, tested, and refined during this period.
Invaluable time spent in mentorship and partnership with master educators, such as Rabbi Marcia Prager, Dr. Livia Strauss, Rabbi Michele Sullum, and Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi have influenced and shaped Rabbi Modek's accessible approach to Jewish life and education. Rabbi Modek currently lives in Nyack, New York from where he offers Jewish educational services, holiday celebrations, and life-cycle ceremonies embracing the lifestyle realities of the twenty-first century Jewish family. His approach offers students and their families an opportunity to engage in the Jewish quest with a high degree of spiritual connectedness, contemporary relevance, and personal meaning.