In response to community feedback, they are now starting a Hebrew school, which will open Feb. 9.
“The Stapleton Hebrew School will provide every Jewish child, regardless of background or affiliation, with an experiential Jewish education in a warm and spirited environment,” Mendel says.
“Our aim is to nurture and build the foundation of the child’s Jewish identity so they come away feeling proud of being Jewish,” Estee adds.
Mendel and Estee are among 3,800 couples worldwide who move to a community and dedicate their lives to sharing Judaism. As part of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, they want to help every Jew relate to their Judaism in the way that fits his or her life.
The school curriculum is based on requests from a parent advisory board. It will focus on a comprehensive education of Jewish life that includes history, values, traditions and the meaning behind them.
But, the school will not look like a typical classroom. “Kids have to be in school all week so this is going to be different,” Estee says. They envision fun and interactive learning. Students will learn Jewish values through art, theater, games, crafts and field trips. They will win prizes for their progress, and they will not have homework. And of course, they will celebrate Jewish holidays.
“Our school’s underlying approach is for the children to enjoy the time spent at Hebrew School so that they are left with positive experiences and a greater appreciation for Jewish education,” Mendel says.
Among their many goals for the school, they hope to strengthen moral compasses and decision making by instilling Jewish values.
Mendel and Estee will teach classes and have hired an Aleph Champ-certified instructor who has taught in Guatemala and the Ukraine. Aleph Champ is a Hebrew reading program based on the color system used in karate. Students will go from beginner “white belt” to experienced “black belt.” More than 450 schools worldwide use the program.
The school will be open to ages 6 to 13, which will be split into two classes. The spring session costs $275 and will go from Feb. 9 to June 1. Classes will be 10am to 12pm every Sunday at the Montessori Children’s House of Denver Stapleton location, 2211 Xanthia Way (at Xanthia and Central Park Blvd.).
Spring enrollment will be capped at 15 students, but Mendel and Estee expect to expand in future sessions. To register, call 720.515.4337 or visit JewishStapleton.com.