About Hebrew Learning Circles™
The Mission of the Hebrew Learning Circles is to provide high quality Jewish education to small groups or individuals within the comfort and informality of the home environment. We aim to draw upon the student's natural sense of curiosity and individual learning strengths.
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.
- Innovative Hebrew reading curriculum
- Training in peer-learning skills to encourage independent Jewish learners
- Methodical and well-planned instruction
- A caring, affirming and nurturing educational environment
- A general curriculum aimed at helping students to develop a positive sense of Jewish identity
- Parental participation opportunities integrated into the learning process
- Individual attention provided to support students' special learning needs
- The Circle runs as a parent and student cooperative.
- A parent volunteer acts as the Circle's coordinator. The coordinator is often the person who helps the group to get started. She or he serves as:
- The main contact person with the instructor and the Hebrew Learning Circles (HLC) business office
- The facilitator of communication among the parents, i.e. creates an e-mail list and/or phone chain list, and initiates group discussions as needed.
- The Learning Circle's parents help facilitate the smooth running of the Circle by carrying out the following simple tasks:
- Providing required materials and supplies (See supplies list).
- Distributing the semester's schedule to all the Circle's parents.
- Handling specific needs of the space, such as set up, clean up, etc. (making sure the host family does not end up overburdened).
- Collecting tuition checks and delivering them to the HLC business office.
- The number of children participating in the Circle determines the tuition level. The larger the Circle the lower the tuition per each family (See fee schedule).
- The Learning Circle collectively commits to pay the full semester's tuition and cost of books for all its students by the second session of each semester.
- The HLC business office orders and distributes all required textbooks.
- Each Learning Circle contracts with HLC to receive high quality Jewish cultural and religious instruction based on the HLC curriculum and its unique educational principles (See Core Educational Features). However, the curriculum can be adapted and changed to fit the specific educational goals and needs of each Circle. Such changes are discussed and decided upon in a meeting of the parents, the instructor, and Rabbi Modek.
- Parents, students, instructor, and the Rabbi periodically discuss, reevaluate, and readjust the curriculum and or logistics, as needed, in an open and cooperative spirit.
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.