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 School for kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades. Meets on Sunday mornings. The curriculum centers on holidays, Hebrew reading, and mitzvot. Our students read Hebrew by the time they complete second grade.
  • Religious School for children in grades 3 to 7. Meets Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Our Hebrew and Tefillah programs are individualized so that students move at their own pace. All students join to study holidays and Jewish history, and for learning with Rabbi Tobin, who teaches at least once a month. Many of our students read Torah before becoming Bat or Bar Mitzvah, and those who have mastered Torah trope go on to read the Megillot.
  • 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.

Shabbat Fun & More

It’s fun to be a little kid at B’nai Shalom. And fun for parents and grandparents who get to be part of their children’s and grandchildren’s earliest Jewish memories.

Shabbat Fun for children two to five meets from 11 to noon once a month. The program, led by our teens, features stories, songs, prayers and snacks.

More “grown-up” children, from kindergarten to second grade, meet on the same Shabbat for Junior Junior Congregation in the Lipka Chapel. Our children are so proud to daven, have a Torah service, and hear a “sermon-story” – all appropriate for their age. At close to noon, they join the congregation in the Gruhin Sanctuary to lead Ein Keloheinu.

Holidays are happy occasions for young families, as they get to share their children’s excitement with one another. High Holiday, Chanukah, Tu B’Shevat, and Purim workshops, a Pre-Pesach Chocolate Seder, and outdoor Lag B’omer Fun engage kids, parents, and grandparents in songs, stories, and crafts, and delight everyone with special holiday snacks.

All of these programs are free and open to the community. Bring a child. Join the fun!

Youth Activities

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


Sponsored by United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Kadima is the international youth organization for Jewish middle school students in 5th through 8th grade. Kadima enables pre-teens and young teens to explore their Jewish heritage while connecting with peers all over Northern and Central New Jersey.

Kadima youth learn leadership as they expand their personal and Jewish horizons, bond as friends, and have a wonderful time.

For more information, contact our Vice President for Youth and Education at


B’nai Shalom is the proud home of West Orange USY, the local chapter of the international youth organization for Conservative Jewish teens. USY is for students in 9th through 12th grade, and is the natural progression from Kadima.

Since 2014, the chapter has been a Northern New Jersey Region USY “chapter of the year.” Members raise funds for tzedakah, engage in social action and Jewish values education, and learn about Israel. Regional and national conferences give West Orange teens a chance to practice leadership and meet high schoolers from around the country.

B’nai Shalom’s comfortable Youth Lounge gives USYers their own space for holiday parties, games, and informal lounge nights.

Membership is open to all high school students who are members of B’nai Shalom or who belong to a synagogue without a USY chapter. Membership guarantees free or discounted admission to all West Orange USY events and the opportunity to attend all regional and international events. If you want to sign up, or know someone who might be interested, email, or search for West Orange USY on Facebook.

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: