Youth & Families

Families with children of all ages find a home at B’nai Shalom.

We celebrate and cherish each child’s growth and development from baby naming to Bat and Bar Mitzvah, through teen activities and the adventures of going off to Jewish camp and Israel travel.

Individual attention in Religious School, family Kabbalat services and dinners, free High Holiday services in the Gruhin Sanctuary, a Purim feast and laugh-filled spiel, a Second Seder delighting participants from three to 93, and a continuum of youth activities through high school provide joyous pathways to Jewish life for children and their families.

Our Religious School

Guided by our Religious School principal, Rena Casser, B’nai Shalom’s children are happy and comfortable on the bimah. Their energetic chanting of concluding prayers is one of the delights of our Shabbat morning services. The moment speaks to what we want for our children – ease in the Sanctuary, synagogue skills, and active participation in the life of the community.

Our educational program is hands-on, rich, and engaging:

  • Complimentary Holiday Preschool Workshops for three to four year olds and their families.
  • Primary at B’nai Shalom includes children from Kindergarten through Grade 2. Meeting once a week on Sunday mornings, the children learn prayers, Hebrew vocabulary, letter recognition, holidays and Torah. Our program is a fun and fast paced one, including songs, arts and crafts and cooking. In addition, we hold Holiday workshops several times during the year.
  • Our Religious school is for students Third Grade and up. Our Hebrew program allows each student to learn at his or her own pace. Our goal is for the children to be comfortable on the Bimah, able to lead services and be an essential part of the congregation. In addition, we learn about holidays, Torah and Israel. Our favorite game is "Judaism on the spot." Many of our graduates return time and time again, both to help out in the classroom as Ozrim, as well as to lead services in the Main Sanctuary on Shabbat and holidays.
  • Ozrim, our post-B’nei Mitzvah helpers come back to continue learning, and to help younger students advance. Post-B’nei Mitzvah are also called for aliyot and can read Torah during services as full members of the community.

In our small school, every child is special.

We offer support for children with special needs, individualized instruction for advanced students, and opportunities for families to learn together.

Members and non-members are welcome. Tuition is included with membership.

To learn how your child can find a happy place in our educational program, please contact Rena Casser at

Rena Casser, Master Educator

Our principal, Rena Casser, has been teaching at B’nai Shalom for more than 40 years. She is now teaching a second generation of B’nai Shalom children, as some of her former students have brought their children to learn with her.

Holding a Master’s degree in Education for Gifted Children from Columbia University, Rena believes that, “Every Jewish child deserves a quality education, suited to his or her abilities.” Her students move at their own pace, and each child is appropriately challenged and encouraged to succeed.

Throughout her years at B’nai Shalom, Rena has inspired children with her high expectations. They learn to daven and to read Torah, Haftarah, and Megillot. She leads the Junior Congregation each Shabbat for Religious School and Day School students in the community, and organizes the Children’s High Holiday Services and other holiday events.

In addition to her Religious School responsibilities, Rena teaches and mentors B’nei Mitzvah students as well as adults wishing to improve their synagogue skills.

Rena has four adult children and five grandchildren. She admits that her favorite title in life is “Bubbe,” and her youngest students like to call her that, too.

Tefillah Tot Shabbat

Children and their parents are invited to get excited about Shabbat!

Geared to families with children age 5 and younger, the Tefillah Tot Shabbat program at B'nai Shalom is a chance for your family to engage in a fun, warm, and accessible Shabbat experience.

Held monthly on Saturday mornings at 11am, and led by Rabbi Tobin and Morah Amy, this program moves from age-appropriate song and prayer, to marching with play Torahs and story-time, all capped off with a special kiddush snack. This is a great way for young families to meet and make new friends, while being a part of the Jewish community. Come join us; all are welcome!

While continuing to teach early music development in the community with Music Together, and musical theatre with The Performing Arts Project of New Jersey, Amy also leads Sing Shalom, Tfillah Tots and the High Holiday Early Childhood Services at B'nai Shalom with Rabbi Tobin.

Amy was born and raised in Maryland and attended Capital Camps, while continuing her religious education throughout high school and college. She received both her BA in Musical Theatre and her Masters of Arts in Teaching, with a concentration in Theatre Education, at American University and has performed Off-Broadway, regionally and across the country in a variety of roles.

When she's not teaching or directing, you can find Amy as an events, fundraising and development professional. She resides in West Orange with her husband, Steve and daughter, Logan.

Youth Activities

B’nai Shalom offers a continuum of enjoyable Jewish programming for young people from age 12 through high school graduation.

The B'nai Shalom Youth Department does all it can to ensure that Judaism will live on for future generations, while at the same time providing entertaining and pleasurable activities for its youth in a Torah and Jewish Enriched environment. The Youth Department is composed of dedicated teenagers, our wonderful Rabbi, Our Religious School Principal, and members of our Board.

The Youth Department sponsors events both on site and off site and we are always open to suggestions for new programming as well. Groups are kept small we are sure that all the children are given a chance to participate. In all of the programs, our most important goal is to make sure that each child feels a sense of belonging not only to the group, but to the larger Jewish community.

For particulars of schedule and locations please send us an email, we'd be happy to help!

Youth Scholarship Fund

The hike up Masada. Dancing the hora with 100 new friends. Joining bunkmates all wearing white, singing Lecha Dodi as they walk to an outdoor sanctuary to welcome Shabbat. These are the high moments that can stay with a Jewish teen forever. These are the moments we want our children and grandchildren to experience.

To make membership in USY, participation in conferences and conventions, summers at Camp Ramah, and Israel programs accessible for all our teens, B’nai Shalom proudly raises funds for the Youth Scholarship Fund. To help give a young person an indelible Jewish experience that will carry over to strong, lifelong Jewish identity, please click here.


B’nai Shalom is proud to sponsor Cub Scout Pack 365 and Boy Scout Troop 365 for boys from every family background. While these groups are welcoming to all, our sponsorship enables Jewish boys who observe Shabbat and keep kosher a chance they wouldn’t otherwise have to participate in scouting.

Cub Pack 365

Pack 365 is open to 7 to 11-year-old boys from West Orange, Livingston, South Orange, and Montclair. Learning is fun as Cubs try their hand at woodsman skills, carpentry, archery, first aid, model rocket building, and racecar building. Cubs hike and camp out, and learn civics as they make decisions together.

Boy Scout Troop 365

Boys who are 12 to 17, or have completed fifth grade, are invited to join Troop 365, which meets on Sundays from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. The troop’s year-round program of skill- and leadership-building activities, community service, and outdoor experiences leads to ever-higher levels of competence, until the boys are recognized as Eagle Scouts.

Scout Master Aaron Spool, an Eagle Scout, began leading a Cub Pack when his children were old enough to participate. Besides being a longtime scout leader, Aaron is a seasoned finance professional. He has a BBA from The George Washington University, an MBA from the University of Michigan, is a CPA, and a CFA charter holder. If you are interested in learning more about Jewish Scouting, Aaron can be reached at: