MASKIT is the Youth Education Program at Astoria Center of Israel. We offer a warm, supportive, and lively Jewish atmosphere for children to gain an exciting awareness of Jewish life and to foster and strengthen their Jewish identity. MASKIT provides an opportunity for fellowship and friendship in an environment that nurtures students and families and encourages active participation. We seek to foster in our students a positive Jewish experience, a lifelong feeling of commitment, pride and affection for Judaism, God, Israel, and the wisdom of the Torah. It is our mission to instill in our children a proud Jewish identity, an appreciation for their heritage, and devotion to Jewish ethical behaviors and values.
PROGRAMS: MASKIT is divided into four levels: ARI, TZVI, NAMEIR, and NESHER. Click each name to find out more. In addition, there are a number of family programs throughout the year for the students of MASKIT, as well as some for the wider community, like the Chanukah and Purim parties.
NAME: Rabbi Pearl conceived the name “MASKIT” (pronounced ‘Mah-skeet’ – the Hebrew word for ‘mosaic’) for our youth education program, which represents the guidance we provide to each child from the early years of synagogue school through the teen years of post-bar/bat mitzvah Jewish life. This program’s unique name carries with it three special meanings. First, the view of Judaism as a mosaic: the myriad, multi-faceted, and far-reaching components of Judaism which, when pieced together, form a picture – a mosaic – of great magnificence. Additionally, the word Mosaic plays off a suggested connection to the Biblical Moses, a pivotal figure in the origins and development of our people and heritage. And finally, the spelling of MASKIT (in both English and Hebrew) is an acronym for the six elements of the program, which together constitute a solid basis for Jewish life.
2017 JOURNAL: MASKIT was honored at the 91st Anniversary Journal Service at ACI. To purchase a copy of the journal, contact the office. To view the photo and project gallery of our students, visit our synagogue.
HISTORY: In the fall of 2009, when the shul was considering closing its doors, as it had a small and decreasing membership, little activity, and no children or young families (a Hebrew School had long ago ceased to exist), a new effort to rebuild and energize the shul began in earnest. Ayelet Pearl happily accepted the sacred and challenging task of spearheading the creation of a new Hebrew school, understanding that this would have to be done with fresh thinking and a creative eye and soul. Rather than adopt a formal conventional curriculum, we decided that the aim of this program would be to infuse the children with a desire to come to shul and learn about their heritage, involve their families, become part of a Jewish community, and thus grow Jewishly. The success of the program has been phenomenal. From Ayelet beginning as the volunteer teacher and director of the school with 3 children in Spring 2009, now – as of the year of our ACI’s 90th anniversary (2015) – MASKIT has over 40 children, divided into four levels: Tot Shabbat (ages infant -4) which began in 2010, led by Cara Bernstein, Josie Freeman, Lisa Goldberg, and Ze'eva Berman; lower school (ages 5-8), which began in 2014, with teacher Hanna Harel; and the upper school (ages 9-13), which Ayelet continues to teach, along with the Bar/Bat Mitzvah track program, and a new Teen program.