Yerusha is a family-based supplementary education program in central New Jersey. Yerusha has two distinct educational programs: one for students in grades K-4, and another for students in grades 5-12. Within each program, students advance through ranks based on their accomplishments, rather than based on their age or grade level. Each program comes together for weekly two-hour gatherings from 4-6 pm on Sundays, and also for four Shabbatons throughout the year.
The educational core of Yerusha is a self-paced learning system of ranks and badges. Participants progress at their own pace by fulfilling requirements. Youth with strong drive and motivation will progress through the ranks quickly, while others may take a more leisurely approach.
- Kindergarten through 4th Grade: age-appropriate requirements guide younger participants in their Jewish learning, with significant support from parents.
- 5th through 12th grade: age-appropriate requirements guide older participants in their Jewish learning, with significant opportunities for youth leadership.
Youth can join the program at any time between kindergarten and 17 years old. No prior Jewish learning is required, and youth with previous learning experience will be placed in a rank appropriate to their knowledge and experience level.
In addition to providing a strong pre-Bar/Bat Mitzvah learning experience, heavy emphasis is placed on post-Bar/Bat Mitzvah learning and achievement. To encourage youth to continue their Jewish learning, Yerusha has three challenging ranks after Bar/Bat Mizvah. Highly motivated teens can earn the rank of Etz Haim (“Tree of Life”), a level of learning and achievement similar to the Eagle Scout in Scouting.
Hebrew Learning System
Learning Hebrew is a critical component of any Jewish education. Because youth acquire language at such widely divergent paces, the Yerusha Hebrew learning program features a self-paced system of 22 Hebrew levels that break down the process of learning Hebrew into hundreds of steps. Hebrew comprehension is introduced from the beginning of the program; even while learning to decode letters and form syllables and words, participants are also learning common roots, blessings, and Modern Hebrew phrases.
A variety of Hebrew learning tools will be available to Yerusha participants, including top-flight computer-based learning programs. Although Hebrew learning will take place throughout the Yerusha program, there are no formal Hebrew classes. Instead, participants set aside time to learn on their own or in small groups, at their own pace. To ensure participants acquire sufficient Hebrew skills, each rank has an assigned minimum Hebrew level in order to complete the rank.
Yerusha is egalitarian: girls and boys have equal roles in all aspects of the program. Yerusha is progressive and cross-denominational, welcoming families from all Jewish backgrounds.