How Skype Helps This Southern Jewish Family Stay in Sunday School

Our family recently relocated to Greene County, Georgia, leaving our longtime home of Marietta. One of the hardest things to leave was our synagogue in Marietta, Congregation Ner Tamid; as founding members, we have deep roots there.

We are still members, and wanted to remain active — but how could we commit to commuting nearly 90 miles each way (fighting Friday Atlanta traffic!) for Shabbat services… and then again on Sunday morning for Religious School every single week? We have three boys, all of whom are very involved in Congregation Ner Tamid’s youth programs. Our oldest celebrated his Bar Mitzvah last year, and our next simcha (celebration), is coming up this April with our middle son’s Bar Mitzvah.

We needed a solution in order for our boys to participate weekly without the added strain of an early-morning long commute, for both them and us.

In the classroom -note the kippah on the tablet! :)
In the classroom -note the kippah on the tablet! 🙂

So, we inquired about alternatives on days when we could not attend in person. Our first thought was to consider telecommunication through avenues such as Skype or FaceTime, as other congregations in our region have done. Our suggestion was well received by our Religious School Principal, Elaine Gutenstein, as well as the Board of Directors. They worked diligently to support our new needs as a family.

We weren’t sure how it would work, but a few weeks into the the school year… for the student that isn’t physically able to attend, this option of a “virtual classroom” is a prayer answered. They still miss being in the room, but there are many silver linings to this solution. For example, as parents, we are so thrilled to not miss anything in our children’s religious education despite being miles away, and what’s more is that we are able to “see” what they are learning each time they log in instead of just dropping them off.  We are immersed in the same ISJL curriculum they experience, and feel even more connected.

We are thankful to CNT for experimenting with this awesome advance in classroom attendance. My fifth and seventh graders “sit” with their classmates, attend prayer services, sing, pray, and even raise their hand to answer questions during discussion, all while never leaving the house. Because not every activity can be done from home, we have worked out a schedule to make sure they receive the very best of both worlds. One in the classroom, and one in the virtual classroom.

It’s a great day and age to be able to use technology as it was intended, joining people together no matter where they are. L’shanah tovah!

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