The Chabad Jewish Center of Rancho Santa Fe aims to make Hebrew School fun, exciting even for children. Chabad's Hebrew School is in its second year in the Ranch at R. Roger Rowe School. Classes begin on Sept. 8 this year for children ages four through 13.
Rabbi Levi Raskin said Chabad believes that a child's Jewish learning must be creative, memorable and fun. He said the school is very hands-on - students not only learn about the Jewish holidays but also make crafts such as candles and ram's horns to help celebrate them.
Students also learn the Hebrew alphabet using a program called Aleph Champ. Modeled after the karate system of motivational colored levels, students work their way through different "belts" until they can fluently read the Siddur, or prayer book.
The first taste program, for children ages four through six, gets students learning their religion through song, art, drama and games.
"We want kids to be proud and learn what it means to be Jewish," Raskin said.
In addition to Hebrew School kicking off, Chabad will hold an event on Sept. 10 at 3:30 p.m. at the Rancho Santa Fe Library. Children will read books about the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and make a holiday craft.
Since 2006, Chabad has been the only Jewish organization in Rancho Santa Fe.
"We've had tremendous growth," said Raskin, noting that the congregation that has become a real family, very positive and warm.
Raskin calls his group a "boutique Chabad" and said its goal is to serve all the Jewish needs of the Ranch, including High Holy Day services such as Rosh Hashanah on Sept. 18 and 19 at Morgan Run. They also offer private counseling, a men's club and women's circle, visits to elderly residents and special lectures.
Chabad's next lecture will be on Oct. 29. The lecturer for that event is Zvi Bielski, son of Zus Bielski whose heroic story was told in the movie "Defiance" starring Daniel Craig. The three Bielski brothers fought off Nazis in the Belarusian forest during World War II, saving the lives of 1,200 Jews.
"We look forward to a very, very good year ahead of us," Raskin said.
For more information or to register for Hebrew School, call 756-7571 or visit