This week, a new breed of Hebrew school will open its doors to Jewish children in the Tampa Bay area.
The Hebrew School of the Arts, an offshoot of the Jewish Discovery Center, begins its inaugural year Sunday at the Chabad Hebrew School, 1578 Bloomingdale Ave., in Valrico.
The school will offer an arts-based curriculum for students to learn to read and write Hebrew, study the Torah and Jewish history, and explore cultural values.
Rather than sitting in a classroom, children ages 6 to 12 will paint, create and perform, said Tzippy Rubashkin, school director.
"When it's hands-on learning, it's fun and exciting for the students," she said. "When they do arts and crafts or take a cooking class, they remember more because it's such a positive experience."
Rubashkin, wife of Rabbi Mendel Rubashkin, previously taught Hebrew school and Jewish preschool in New York.
In 2013, the Rubashkins came to Florida to open the Jewish Discovery Center, where membership is not required to participate in religious life.
The center offers monthly Shabbat dinners, services, holiday celebrations and educational programs for all ages. People can pick and choose which events suit their personal needs.
Following this model, the new Hebrew School will remain open to all Jewish children throughout the school year. Students will sing, dance, play games and go on field trips, all while learning to translate Hebrew words and appreciate the significance of Israel. The curriculum allows each child to apply his or her individual strengths to group activities.
"We want to teach children Judaism can be part of whatever they do, whether its drawing a picture or putting on a play," Rabbi Rubashkin said. "We want the students to know Jewish life isn't confined to the four walls of a synagogue."
The Hebrew School of the Arts will meet from 10:30 a.m. to noon Sundays through May. The cost to attend is $450, including a book fee. For more information or to register, visit jewishbrandon.com.