Our son has been a part of Gateways Sunday Program for the last 4 years. It gives us a feeling of joy and gratitude to see his excitement for this program each week. Guided by incredible High School volunteers, learning to read Hebrew, celebrating the Jewish holidays, confidently envisioning his bar mitzvah; Gateways offers our family hope and meaningful possibilities.
CarlaSunday Program Parent
Everything about Gateways has been key to our son’s success: teachers with special education expertise, the support of a trained and enthusiastic teen volunteer dedicated to him, a carefully tailored program and curriculum and a class with peers like him. Gateways is a great place for our son to shine.
Leah and Len Sunday Program Parents
My son finds great joy in the Gateways Sunday Program. He loves his teen volunteers (and they love him!). His knowledge of Jewish holidays, values, and rituals grows every week in an environment that is ideally suited to his learning and emotional needs. He considers the other children in his classroom his friends and looks forward to seeing them every Sunday.
Every Child Can Discover Joy in the Rituals of Judaism
Torah, Avodah, and G’milut Chasadim at Gateways (TAGG) is an experiential, thematic Jewish education program. Every Sunday, students enter a world of Jewish history, ritual, and experience tailored to their individual strengths and learning styles. Our highly-trained educators use visual supports and differentiated instruction to present a multisensory curriculum that includes Jewish holidays, Torah stories, and Hebrew, as well as Jewish culture and traditions. Creative arts and music are included each week. All students receive one-to-one (or more) support from teen volunteers who receive ongoing training. All the while, students build meaningful relationships and participate in a compassionate and welcoming community.
Who Should Join TAGG?
Torah, Avodah and G’milut Chasadim at Gateways (TAGG) is ideal for students who benefit from strategies and supports not typically offered in a classic supplementary Jewish educational setting. Gateways students receive individualized attention in a small class environment that allows them to successfully access a formal Jewish education.
This program is best for students who are pre-b’nei mitzvah (ages 5-13) as well as those who are participating in Gateways’ mid-week B’nei Mitzvah Program.
Explore: A Typical Day at TAGG
TAGG programming takes place at the JCC of Greater Boston at 33 Nahanton Street, Newton, MA.
Arrival: Teachers and teen volunteers welcome students to the program. Students view a prominently-displayed visual schedule detailing what the day will entail. (Some students also create their own personalized visual schedule that they use to help them navigate the day.) Students participate in an arrival activity—such as drawing, a board game, brainteaser, or sensory activity—that previews the day’s themes and helps them transition into the program.
Opening Meeting: Teacher gathers all students and their teen volunteer aides to review the day’s schedule and formally introduce the topic and themes. Instructors use visuals to explain concepts and to elicit students’ questions and responses.
Centers: Students and their teen volunteer aides participate in a variety of activities (including arts-and-crafts, sensory exploration, and trivia games) that deepen understanding about the day’s focal topic. On some days, students rotate to stations where they engage with Jewish objects and practice Jewish rituals. Instructors introduce Jewish history, both Biblical and modern, through literature, art, and moving images.
Snack: Teachers and volunteers encourage students to socialize and build community as they enjoy a light and healthy snack. Volunteers support students in initiating positive social interactions and engaging one another in age-appropriate conversation. (Note: snack policies may shift due to evolving COVID-19 protocols.)
Hebrew/Prayers: This portion of the schedule is individualized for each student, and Gateways offers an array of options for students to learn to read and recite prayers. Some students use our Hebrew Reading Program, others use a Sight Word Program, and we also use technology to enable non-verbal students to participate meaningfully in Jewish prayer.
Dismissal: The class comes together for a closing activity, during which students reflect on what they learned. Instructors use formal reflection tools to guide students through this activity, and each student’s teen volunteer shares the child’s reflections with parents/guardians during pick-up. Volunteers also relay any questions or information to and from families so that parents/guardians and Gateways’ program staff continue to remain in open communication.
Click the image to view our 2022-2023 class calendar.
Enrollment and Financial Information
Forms, instructions, and financial information for enrolling both new and returning students in one of Gateways’ Jewish Education Programs.
Our program begins at age 5 and provides children with an introduction to and a basis for learning about Jewish holidays and values. Many families decide to enroll their child at age five; others wait to begin the program when the time feels right for their child’s learning situation.
What kinds of disabilities and learning needs do your students have?
Gateways provides programming to students with a wide range of disabilities and learning challenges. Students may have social and emotional, cognitive, or communication challenges as well as physical disabilities.
What are your teachers’ qualifications?
Our teachers all have formal training in education and/or special education and experience working with children with disabilities and diverse learning needs.
Do you accept new students mid-year?
Our program is unique in that each student is paired with a teen volunteer who is trained to provide support and guidance. We will accept a student mid-year if we have space in an appropriate class and an appropriate teen volunteer available.
How large are the classes? What is the student-to-staff ratio?
Classes typically have between five and eight students. Each class is run by a highly qualified teacher, and each student is also supported by either one or two designated teen volunteers. Two additional teen volunteers act as floaters in each classroom, and are ready to provide additional support as needed.
What happens during class?
During each class session, students work with their teen volunteer(s) on either a Hebrew or a prayer-based curriculum that is individualized for them. Teachers design class time to meet the needs of the profile of the students. Lessons typically include a meeting time and a variety of activities designed to broaden students’ depth and knowledge of Jewish holidays and values.
How are teen volunteers selected?
Teens who wish to be volunteers go through a competitive application process that includes writing an essay, submitting a letter of recommendation and participating in a face-to-face interview. We select teens who have experience with children, experience with individuals with disabilities and diverse learning needs, and who demonstrate that they can make a commitment to consistently attending the Sunday program and weekly teen training sessions.
See More TAGG Program FAQSee More TAGG Program FAQ
Will my child learn how to read and speak Hebrew?
Gateways has successfully used a special method to teach students with a wide range of abilities how to decode Hebrew. We have even taught Hebrew to students who have not yet learned how to read English! This method, similar to Orton-Gillingham, helps students to learn the sounds of each letter and vowel using a system of mnemonic tricks and visual cues, allowing them to learn how to read prayers using symbols and sight words. Hebrew at Gateways is taught with a focus on decoding, so that students can learn how to read prayers and Torah. Our program does not focus on conversational Hebrew. Learn more about our Hebrew curriculum.
Will my child be prepared for their bar/bat mitzvah just by attending the Sunday program?
Although the Sunday program provides students with the background to understand and celebrate holidays and traditions and to decode Hebrew as they foster a sense of Jewish identity, the Sunday program alone does not prepare students for b’nei mitzvah. Families who want their child to prepare for b’nei mitzvah enroll their child in the Gateways B’nei Mitzvah Program 1–2 years prior to their child’s proposed celebration. The B’nei Mitzvah Program provides students with significant 1:1 tutoring time and allows them a weekly opportunity to practice participating in a prayer service.
I’m afraid of losing my connection with my synagogue by having my child come to Gateways. What can we do?
We know that maintaining a connection with a synagogue is important, and we work with clergy and education directors to help coordinate learning and continued participation in synagogue events. We also encourage families to attend services and other synagogue activities in order to remain an active part of the synagogue community.
Additionally, some students attend Gateways on Sundays and participate in their synagogue’s after-school Hebrew school programming during the week. This allows them to maintain a connection with their synagogue and their peers. Gateways is happy to support our students at their home synagogues and to work with synagogue educators to help create a successful learning environment.
Is it okay if my family does not belong to a synagogue?
Yes. Many of our families do not belong to a synagogue.
I would like for my child to attend our synagogue’s religious school programming in addition to participating in Gateways. Is that possible??
Yes, we frequently have students who attend both Gateways and their synagogue’s religious school. We are happy to help facilitate this arrangement.
Why do you have a separate Sunday school program for students with disabilities and diverse learning needs rather than focusing on including these students in their home synagogues?
Gateways exists to ensure that families of children with disabilities and diverse learning needs have a range of choices about where their children can receive a rich and meaningful Jewish education. Some students are able to find this in their home synagogue, and we will support a synagogue in developing a program that meets that child’s needs because we believe that it is important that children with learning needs have the option of being educated alongside their peers at their synagogue’s religious school. Gateways works with Boston-area religious schools to provide professional development opportunities and support services so that religious school educators have the tools and confidence to engage students with a range of learning needs.
However, not every synagogue is able to meet every child’s needs and not all families are members of a synagogue. Therefore, we offer families the option of a learning experience that is built around the needs of children with disabilities and learning differences. Families may choose to enroll their children in Gateways for a variety of reasons, including the background and skills of our educators, our community of families who have experiences similar to their own, and our supportive environment where their children are fully embraced. Our goal is for all students to receive a meaningful Jewish education in any environment families choose. By supporting synagogue religious schools and offering our own religious school experience, we hope to provide this freedom of choice for families of children with disabilities and learning needs.
Are you affiliated with any movement?
No. We are not affiliated with any movement, and we welcome families from all branches of Judaism.
Is there homework?
Children who are learning Hebrew are encouraged to review their flash cards and reading pages at least three times a week for 20 minutes. We provide parents with homework schedules and detailed directions about how to review our materials so they feel empowered to help their children at home.
What kind of communications and progress reports should I expect from you?
The classroom teacher sends home a letter each week, indicating what material was covered in class. This letter also includes a personal note from the student’s teen volunteer reflecting on the child’s session. Parents also have an opportunity to speak with the teen volunteer each week after class. Gateways sends home an end-of-year progress note in June.
What is your policy on restraint and seclusion?
Gateways’ employees and volunteers will make reasonable efforts to implement a range of strategies, including but not limited to the least-restrictive-to-most-effective approach, to promote a child’s safety while participating in programming, and to preserve the safety, security, and dignity of all Gateways participants, volunteers and staff. In accordance with applicable Massachusetts regulations (603 CMR 46.03), physical restraint shall be used only in emergency situations of last resort, after other lawful and less intrusive alternatives have failed or been deemed inappropriate, and with extreme caution.
To read our entire policy on prompting and behavior management, please click here.
Can we meet to discuss my situation?
Yes! We are always happy to meet with families as they are making enrollment decisions and at any point during the school year. Please contact to connect with us.