Temple celebrates new religious school Curriculum designed to give 250 children foundation in Judaism

September 08, 1997|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,SUN STAFF

Tucked away in a quiet clearing in the woods, the new Temple Emanuel bears little resemblance to its former location on busy Liberty Road.

Yesterday, the modern, airy Reisterstown temple at 909 Berrymans Lane -- built in 1995 for the Reform Jewish congregation that migrated from the city to Baltimore County's suburbs -- unveiled a new look. It dedicated a religious school, reuniting the temple's educational mission and religious quest.

"We're very proud of it -- we did it ourselves without a professional fund-raiser," said Rabbi Gustav Buchdahl, the congregation's spiritual leader for 34 years, since the temple opened on Liberty Road. "We have been able to shape a worship space."

The 10,000-square-foot school will attract nearly 250 children for classes ranging from preschool to confirmation, Buchdahl said. When school begins Sunday, lessons will begin on Jewish heritage, customs, religious and ethical values and holiday observances.

Students will come from Baltimore as well as Finksburg, Hampstead and Sykesville -- areas where Temple Emanuel's members live. The temple plans to offer language arts, science, math, art and drama classes daily in addition to religious education.

Barbara Keyser, director of the school, said, "The curriculum is developed to provide a foundation in Judaism that also considers the real world in which [students] will live."

Buchdahl said: "We have grown from 250 to 300. Our congregation has been moving in this direction -- our move was long overdue."

With views of the wooded area, the temple was designed with "nature, human nature and the nature of God" in mind, Buchdahl said. Its arched ceiling with skylights allows worshipers to rejoice in sunlight as well as prayer.

A hand-dyed abstract cloth portraying the Ten Commandments decorates the bema -- the platform from which Scripture is read -- at the front of the sanctuary. Nearby, ornate, handcrafted Torah scrolls are stored for services.

Yesterday's dedication allowed Buchdahl to place mezuzot -- symbolic cases that hold miniature writings -- in each of the school's 14 doorways.

A library and youth lounge will also serve students, and large new administrative offices are nearby.

Pub Date: 9/08/97

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