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Makom is a place to explore Judaism and Jewish values, to consider who we are and how we can make a difference in our community and world.  (*The Hebrew word “Makom” means place and also is one of the names for God.)

Makom meets weekly on Shabbat/ Saturdays.

Our program is designed for students to be learning concurrent with SAJ’s main Shabbat services so that parents could attend services or other community conversations, while children learn Jewish living in Jewish time. We affectionately call this a “Shul/School.”

If you are interested in learning more, or experiencing a tour of Makom,  please call Debra Fricano, Director of Education and Family Engagement at 212-724-7000 x 15 or email

Program Overview

  • Babies through Kindergarten: Join Shabbat Pela, joyful music, movement, hebrew prayer, and storytime.
  • 1st & 2nd Grades: What is part of the Jewish world? We begin to learn Hebrew phrases and daily greetings, Jewish holidays, Torah stories, and blessings through experiences, especially those focused on our senses.
  • 3rd & 4th Grades: Who are part of the Jewish people? We expand our understanding of Torah stories and holidays, learning about characters from our text, and cultures across our history. We learn Hebrew words connected to Jewish values and holidays, study Torah and holiday narratives through the lens of family relationships, and use many modalities including art, drama, music, discussion, and writing, to connect with the diversity of the Jewish people.
  • 5th & 6th Grades: What does it mean to be Jewish now and here?  Students expand their foundation in texts, tradition, and tefilah (Prayer).  Students explore issues of social justice, and have critical thinking conversations.  As they learn about traditional rituals, and the values behind them, they continue to explore how they own their Judaism as modern Americans.
  • 7th & 8th Grades.  What does it mean to become B*Mitzvah in a Reconstructionist Community?  With a foundation in Jewish traditions, texts, holidays, and concepts, students will overtly examine what distinguishes Reconstructionist Judaism from other traditions – with a focus on celebrating all genders and sexualities, adaptation of rituals, G!d optional conversation.  We also dive into political activist history, hugging and wrestling with the State of Israel, and how to give back to the synagogue community and the world.  Students will support each other at their respective B*Mitzvah ceremonies.  In the Spring of the 8th grade, have the opportunity to step into leadership in our Teen Tzedek and Teen professional programs.

“While we live downtown — with 11 synagogues in walking distance — we chose to join SAJ because we love SAJ’s warm and welcoming community. SAJ is a perfect fit for our diverse family and our two boys love Makom, the Jewish learning program.”

Aaron F.

Core Elements of MAKOM

Tefilah/prayer: In Grades 1-3, students sing each week with a music specialist. In Grades 4-6, they create a beit tefilah (a house of prayer). Tefilah is not just a forum for praying, it is a setting for learning Hebrew and synagogue skills and for exploring core Jewish concepts through study, debate, and discussion. As students are exposed to prayers, they learn their core concepts and wrestle with their meaning, and develop their own kavannot (intentions) for prayer.

Makom is a “shul/school” which means in our design we are synched up with the main sanctuary, so that families can have a whole Shabbat experience together.  We are united in our exploration of values, and throughout the year, students and grown ups cycle through exploration of middot/ virtues and values that we explore in our tradition, and cultivate in ourselves.  Examples include “Hakarat HaTov” acknowledging the good, and “Betzelem Elohim / Kavod” seeing the Divine Image in others, and giving respect.  Middot units are represented by a theme song.  Listen to some of our favorites here:

Hallelujah” by Rick Recht                Betzelem Elohim” by Dan Nichols 

Ivrit/Hebrew: Learning Hebrew vocabulary is an opportunity to directly access understanding of Jewish texts, to connect with Jewish people around the world, and to practice critical thinking skills.  In grades K-3, students are exposed to Hebrew phrases in daily living, holidays, and values.  Starting in 4th grade, and continuing up until B*Mitzvah Tutoring with Cantor Lisa (in 6th or 7th grade), students participate in a one-on-one Zoom/Skype based Hebrew tutoring program, called Hebrew Homepage which is administered by the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan. This program allows students to study SAJ approved curriculum at their own pace, at a time that works best for their schedule. New this year, some 7th and 3rd grade students will work on the self-paced curriculum provided by Shalom Learning, which will be monitored by our tutor team. 

Talmud Torah/study: We expose students to a diverse array of Jewish texts in order to understand how Judaism has come to be and to see their role in shaping our Jewish future. Throughout their years at Makom, students will have access to and will explore Torah, Prophets, Mishnah, Talmud, Medieval Philosophy and Mysticism, modern and contemporary texts. As of summer 2020, we are participating in the Shalom Learning values based curriculum to enrich the Jewish content resources for our learning. 

SAJ strives to be actively anti-racist, and with guidance by several organizations of Jews of color, are working to make our curriculum to better reflect these values.  We teach about Mizrahi and Sephardic culture as well as Ashkenazi culture. We use children’s books and videos that show people of color, and we talk about modern social justice applications of Jewish values, including Black Lives Matter. 

If you have questions or want to join an upcoming tour, please call Debra Fricano, our Interim Director of Education and Family Engagement at 212-724-7000 x 15 or email

To receive your family’s personal enrollment link, please contact Rachel Bitterfield,, our Synagogue Office Administrator.

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