Want to the know the basics about Sulam?


Who are the students?
The students are American and Israeli, observant and non-observant. Sulam reinforces each child’s sense of Jewish identity based on his/her family’s beliefs, affiliations, commitments and practices. They’re all different, and that’s OK. We are a pluralistic school: we appreciate and affirm differences in approaches to Jewish life.

How old are the students?
The current program has students K-4. The 2018-19 program will enroll students K-5.

Is Sulam only for Brookline residents?
Everyone is welcome. Scheduling is based on the Brookline Public School calendar. If families coming from outside Brookline can commit to this schedule, they are welcome to apply.

Who are the teachers, and what are their backgrounds? 
We have two teachers, Shay Bar Nissim and Adina Maayani. Both are native Israeli and experienced classroom teachers. For more info on Shay and Adina, please click here.


What does Sulam mean?
“Sulam” means “ladder” in Hebrew. The word appears only once in the bible (Genesis 28:12) in reference to Jacob’s dream of angels ascending a stairway to heaven. “Sulam” comes from the root “solel,” meaning to lift up or lead.

What’s behind our logo?
In February 2017, our board members took on the task to revamp Sulam’s logo that better represents our mission. Jayna Zweiman, an architect, artist, and co-creator of the international Pussyhat Project, generously donated her time and skills to create the amazing design you see here. It is modern and striking, and invokes both the literal “ladder” of our program’s name, as well as the interplay between English and Hebrew, American and Israeli, secular and Judaic, that makes the Brookline Jewish experience.

What’s the curriculum?
Glad you asked!  In a nutshell, we teach Hebrew language and Jewish life, culture and history in a fun, play-based environment.  We strive to meet all skill levels in the program and accommodate the needs of each student.  Below are our overall learning goals.

Overall Learning Goals

Sulam teaches Hebrew language and Judaics through visual arts, text, memorization, and didactics, as well as movement, song, and play. In Sulam, students focus on:

  • Reading: Students learn reading through storytelling, creative play, and their workbooks. Students also have quiet reading time during program hours and are encouraged to borrow Hebrew books from Sulam’s library.
  • Writing: Students learn writing through their workbooks and individualized plans constructed by the staff and guided by best Hebrew writing comprehension practices.
  • Oral Comprehension: Through Hebrew immersion, adherence to Hebrew-only activities, word and role-playing games, music, drama, games, and storytelling, students practice speaking and listening in Hebrew.
  • Tfillah (Prayer): Students participate in gratitude-giving and tfillah each day. At Sulam, we use the Koren Ashkenaz Siddur, and Grade 1 students receive their own copies. Students learn new tfillot and practice the ones they already know.
  • Shabbat: Sulam celebrates shabbat at the end of class on Thursdays. It includes prayer with kabbalat shabbat, sharing stories, singing shabbat songs, having kiddush, netilat yadayim (handwashing), hallah, and celebration of the day of rest.
  • Parashat HaShavua (Weekly Torah): Students study the weekly torah portion through storytelling, games, art, and drama. In Grade 2, students receive humashim, which becomes their Torah textbook.

What does a typical day look like?

A typical Sulam day incorporates workbooks, songs, tfillah, circle time, art, gross motor play, and other interactive activities that provide students opportunities to learn about Judaism and practice Hebrew. Younger students comprehend far more than they can produce in target language: they will use isolated words, lists of words, or memorized phrase to respond to simple question. Older students will build upon their existing skills and learn to use conversational Hebrew. Sulam’s schedule specifics vary day to day, but will typically include the following, all in Hebrew:

  • Haga’ah (Arrival): Kids arrive between 2:45-3pm and settle down with brahot (blessings) and snack.
  • Mavoh (Welcome): Hebrew games, puzzles, or reading while Sulamniks wait for other students to arrive.
  • Ma’agal (Circle Time): Children gather for 10-15 minutes every day to greet each other, share news, discuss the date, current events, weather, complete a short group activity, and set the theme for the day.
  • Ulpan: Hands-on Hebrew language learning (reading, writing, oral comprehension).
  • Hafsakah (Recess): Structured playtime outdoors (or indoors if inclement weather).
  • Z’man Kevutzah (Group Time): Experiential learning in groups focused on the unit topic.
  • Tfillah (Prayer): Includes learning and recitation of prayers, as well as sharing and reflection.
  • Shabbat/Parashat HaShavua: Celebration of shabbat and discussion of the week’s Torah portion (Thursday only; note: due to time constraints, Shabbat/Torah may replace Ulpan and/or Z’man Kevutzah on Thursday).

What do you mean by Hebrew immersion?
From the moment the students begin Sulam to the moment they are picked up, the teachers speak to them in Hebrew. They use the model of speaking in Hebrew, translating into English, and then repeating again in Hebrew. The children are not expected to answer in Hebrew, but it’s amazing how much they understand in only a few months.

How do you measure progress in Sulam?  Are there grades and homework?
In early grades, the teacher assesses students’ progress through written comments. The teacher Sulam is about intensive Jewish living. It is appreciating and engaging in Jewish learning. You are making that choice by enrolling your child(ren) in our program.

Within that choice, you are making other choices. Sulam understands that two of the reasons families enroll in Sulam is 1) flexibility and 2) individualized teaching. We recognize that Sulam means different things to different families. To that end, we’ll work with you to help tailor your child(ren)’s learning experience to fit with your family’s needs and lifestyle. This means that, at Sulam, we prioritize frequent communication and family collaboration in support of all of your choices regarding students’ engagement, learning, and success.

Our teachers provide ample opportunity to discuss progress and enrichment opportunities. They maintain notes on each student’s progress and welcome parents to ask about it, either at the parent-teacher conferences or in written form, if requested.

Interested in doing more at home? Talk to your Sulam teacher for some suggestions or brief age- and skill-appropriate assignments s/he has created for families to work on together. This enrichment will provide another glimpse into your child’s learning and an opportunity to learn as a family.

Will my child be able to speak Hebrew if s/he goes to Sulam?
Yes. Young children pick up languages incredibly quickly. Like anything, what you put in is what you get out! The more days your child(ren) spend at Sulam the better. That being said, we have had great success with language acquisition in our students. The American families have seen such leaps in their children’s ability to understand, speak, and write in the language.


When does Sulam take place?
We offer individualized learning two to four afternoons per week Monday through Thursday from 2:30pm to 5:00pm, with rolling pickup from 5-6pm. During that hour, there will be informal aftercare activities. The Sulam calendar is based on the Brookline Public Schools calendar, with the exception of the major Jewish holidays. When Brookline schools are canceled due to snow, Sulam is canceled as well.

How can my child take Sulam and piano/chess/math/rug hooking?
Sulam’s schedule is flexible, so your child can take courses on days when he/she is not at Sulam. It is important to note that students learn Hebrew at Sulam as they play, paint, dance, eat, build, sing…. Many of our students take the program for four days and love being there.

Isn’t this a long day for little kids?
It does take some adjustment for the students. We take special care at the beginning of the year to help with the transition. Luckily, Sulam is fun and engaging; kids learn as they play.


Where does Sulam take place?
Sulam is in two beautiful classrooms at Young Israel (YI) of Brookline, in Coolidge Corner. Sulam is an independent organization separate from YI, but we are delighted by the opportunity to partner with the synagogue. YI is located at 62 Green Street, Brookline, MA 02446.

How will students get from Brookline public schools to Sulam?

This year, Sulam teachers will be picking up students from Devotion, Pierce, and Runkle every day, even on public school early dismissal days! Families of students at other Brookline school have made private arrangements for their children to be walked over to the Sulam location. If there’s enough interest, joint transportation arrangements can be made.

What is the mailing address?
Our mailing address is Sulam c/o Young Israel, 62 Green Street, Brookline, MA 02446.


What are the goals of Sulam? 
Sulam is committed to providing children with an exemplary Jewish elementary education on par with that of any day school. The objectives for each child are to:
• develop Hebrew fluency
• learn about and experience the Jewish calendar
• feel a deep connection with Israel, its people, culture, and history
• develop a love and appreciation for the Torah
• form a rich Jewish social community


What’s the cost of Sulam?
By April 15, the cost of the program in 2018-9 is as follows:

  • 2 days/week (2:30-6:00) = $3,970
  • 3 days/week (2:30-6:00) = $5,450
  • 4 days/week (2:30-6:00) = $6,550

After April 15, the cost of the program in 2018-9 is as follows:

  • 2 days/week (2:30-6:00) = $4,245
  • 3 days/week (2:30-6:00) = $5,725
  • 4 days/week (2:30-6:00) = $6,825

The fine print:

  • There is a 5% sibling discount off the total bill up to $400 when you enroll two or more children.
  • We are unable to provide Friday programming at this time.
  • For Devotion, Pierce, and Runkle students, a $100 charge will be added to your total tuition to cover early dismissal pick-ups and coverage.

Sulam requires set days for each child to attend as part of the enrollment process. If you need to make changes to your child’s Sulam schedule, please contact the director with a formal request.

Payment Schedule and Refund Policies

Sulam solely relies on tuition collected at the beginning of the year to pay for committed expenses, such as professional coverage and rent, and that is all budgeted in our system in September.

Sulam’s tuition payment schedule is as follows:

  • 10% non-refundable deposit, due upon registration
  • Aug 1, 2018: 40% tuition installment + $100 Early Dismissal Charge (if applicable) due
  • Nov 1, 2018: 50% tuition installment due

Payments received after stated deadlines are assessed a $25 late fee. Families are responsible for any fees associated with checks returned for insufficient funds plus a $25 handling/processing fee.

The following refund schedule applies:

  • 10% deposit is non-refundable.
  • Withdraw before August 1: 100% of August tuition installment is refundable.
  • Withdraw before August 15: 80% of August tuition installment is refundable.
  • Withdraw August 15 or later: 0% of August tuition installment is refundable.
  • As of November 1, no tuition refunds are given, and families will be expected to pay their entire tuition bill.

As of August 15, refunds are not given for decreasing number of days enrolled.

Tuition adjustments or refunds will not be made for absences if a child misses Sulam because of illness, vacation, weather, governmental orders relating to public safety, or other circumstances.

Do you offer any discounts?
We do! There is a 5% sibling discount off the total bill up to $400 when you enroll two or more children into the program.

How does Sulam’s tuition compare to day school tuition with a scholarship?
There are many factors that impact scholarship awards at day schools. While the award will be different for each family, we expect that for many families Sulam will be much less expensive than day school.

What should I do with all the extra money I save by signing up for Sulam instead of day school?
Use the extra money on a trip to Israel or summer camp, or save the money for day school tuition in middle or high school. Or buy a pony.

Sulam Siddur Party 03.27


How does a family apply to enroll a child in Sulam in 2018?
Please use our online application. We have a rolling admissions process. Once a family completes the application, the director performs a learning assessment of the student. If it’s a good match, the student is accepted.

Sounds great!  How can I help?
We’d love to work side by side with you on this effort. We are looking for parents, educators, and philanthropists who enjoy innovation, Jewish life, and making cookies in the shape of Hebrew letters. Please contact Leann Shamash, Director of Education at Sulam, at lssulambrookline@gmail.com for a visit to the program.