Anyone living in Carroll County who is interested in instilling Jewish values and providing an enriching Hebrew School experience to his or her children must consider Beth El’s satellite program at Westminster or Eldersburg (“In The Neighborhood,” June 14). My two children attend, and I can personally attest to the high quality of the program. Included are holiday rituals, music, customs, prayers and Hebrew instruction. Throughout the curriculum and whole-school activities, values are taught such as tikkun olam (repairing the world), shalom bayit (peace within the home and family) and tzedakah (charity and justice). In our school, I am personally acquainted with all of the teachers; and not only are they parents and grandparents themselves, they also are warm, caring and knowledgeable instructors. Class sizes are just right for creating a warm, unintimidating atmosphere while having enough students to give the feel of a class united within a school. The Hebrew school experience includes Shabbat celebrations, holiday parties, field trips, arts and crafts and community mitzvah projects. The class times are convenient; weekday evenings work much better for us than the typical Sunday, although there is a Sunday option for older grades. The flexibility really reflects the needs of today’s busy, busy families.
Tuition is reasonable. There are many families in Carroll County that struggle financially, and assistance is needed if all Jewish children are to attend this wonderful program. Currently, there are no rabbi-led congregations in Carroll County or Jewish Community Centers, as the Jewish population is interspersed around the county, with the largest numbers in Westminster and Eldersburg/Sykesville. It’s comforting to have the affiliation with a large, successful congregation/school such as Beth El, and it’s very convenient to have classes just down the street. I believe Beth El’s satellite Hebrew schools will be a future focal point for the Jewish community in Carroll County and a major draw for families in Baltimore County and City looking to move out to this lovely area. Just as Reisterstown and even Owings Mills were once considered “way out there,” they are now well-known Jewish areas and part of the greater Baltimore Jewish community that is so diverse yet intertwined. I am sure that Eldersburg and Westminster will continue to grow as important neighborhoods, and the more students attending the schools, the better. Outreach and funding will promote growth in establishing and maintaining this very important institution.