RUACH ~ youth, families & teens

Welcome! Kids, Youth, Families & Teen Programs

RUACH community school

RUACH community school of Beit Ahavah embodies RUACH (“ru-ach”). “RUACH – רוּחַ” is Hebrew for spirit, energy, wind and life!  RUACH is the dynamic force of Judaism of learning, social justice, tikkun olam (repair of the world), music, art, spirituality and Jewish expression.  In RUACH, kids and families experience community in a positive, Jewish environment creating pathways of connection.

JOIN US!  RUACH community school, youth and teen involvement: 

Due to COVID this year, we are adapting with a lot of creativity and positive energy to supporting our families and building connections and meaningful youth community!
RUACH Arts & RUACH Lab is meeting virtually this year from November-May on Sundays, 3-3:45 p.m., led by Rabbi Riqi Kosovske and Morah Anna Sobel. Additional outdoor learning days are planned when weather allows.
We have a wonderful core RUACH group that is working on Hebrew letters/vowels and reading, Jewish values-drive interactive units such as “Shalom Bayit/Peace in the Home” and “MiDor L’Dor/From Generation to Generation” and the wild fun joy of Jewish holidays and Shabbat.
We are offering holiday celebration project bags, special workshops and events, family services, Tot Shabbat community, holiday events, and Teen events scheduled and offered throughout the years for families with young kids (0-6), RUACH-age (5-12), B’nei Mitzvah Journey and BAFTY Teens (11-13, 14-18).
To join any family, youth, or teen events, try out RUACH or other programs, be on the RUACH mailing list, support or sponsor, or just meet or talk with Rabbi Riqi, please contact us at (, or 413-587-3770 x2).  Welcome!

  • RUACH ARTS (grades PreK-2) taught by Anna Sobel.
  • RUACH LAB (grades 3-7) taught by Sophie Spencer-Zavos.
  • HEBREW HAVURAH Thursdays (grades 3-7) taught by Rabbi Riqi.
  • B’NEI MITZVAH JOURNEY with Rabbi Riqi – starts 1-2 years prior to Bar/Bat/B’nei/B-Mitzvah celebrations with learning led by the Rabbi for study, discussion, art, class bonding, trips, tikkun olam projects, and creating a supportive container for students and families on the journey to Jewish young adulthood and becoming teens.
  • CREATIVE holiday and Shabbat gatherings and celebrations for families and community – Be part of the amazing themes, rhythms and rituals throughout the Jewish year.
  • KEHILLAH closing circle for community and family-led assemblies.
  • TOT SHABBAT for families with young children led by Marlene Rachelle – The magical, musical hour and growing, vibrant community of families and deepening friendships with each other and their young kids 0-7 to shape Jewish education.
  • TEENS: Post-B’nei Mitzvah Judaism/Tween/Teen life – Teens have started the new BAFTY temple youth group and  Reform youth movement “NFTY-Northeast” and more.
  • YOFIE education committee for parent involvement – Parents and those dedicated to youth education gather to kibbitz, dream, and plan Jewish and family education that supports parenting and learning together.

May it be a sweet new year of creation and connection!

Teachers Rabbi Riqi Kosovske (our rabbi and our educational director), Marlene Rachelle (Tot Shabbat), Anna Sobel (RUACH ARTS PreK-2, High Holydays Family Services and special events), Sophie Spencer-Zavos (RUACH LAB 3-6 and Teen Leader), Hannah Donnelly, Jake Fein, Tamar Feinland & Aria Monet (Madrichim teen assistants), Heidi Haas (Torah Improv),  Lois Peirent, Morgan Terres & Anne Bussler (YOFIE committee organizers, Tot Shabbat coordinator and specialties), and more.

RUACH is a creative and progressive approach to Jewish learning.  We build community that offers meaningful entryways into Jewish life, celebrates diversity, and deepens our commitment to tikkun olam (repairing the world) and love for our planet.  With teachers and mentors, friends and family, we study, learn Hebrew, celebrate holidays, bring core Jewish values to life, go on “chavaya” real-world experiences and trips, delve into subjects through specialties and electives, build and make art, and have a lot of fun!

RUACH embodies tradition:  “The world stands upon three things:  Torah (Jewish learning), Avodah (prayer and service) and G’milut Chasadim (acts of lovingkindness).”  – Avot d’Rabbi Natan 11:1

Torah = Study!  Engaging our minds and souls to deepen our connection with our past and to make our heritage relevant to how we live today through exciting Jewish learning.  So much to learn and explore, ignite and apply!

Avodah = Spirituality!  Awakening our hearts to connect to the Oneness of all creation through prayer, song, art, dance and other modalities, as well as service and connection to others.

G’milut Chasadim = Acts of Lovingkindness!  Using our hands and hearts inspired by Jewish wisdom to perform actions that make the world a better place – Tikkun Olam! Repair of the World.  We are “praying with our feet and hands, hearts and minds.”

Youth programs are ongoing and always being developed.  Here is a sample:

Class standing in outdoor frame during "Art in the Orchard" visit.

RUACH ARTS – The PreK-2 group is taught by Morah Anna Sobel, Jewish educator and musician, creator of Talking Hands Theater and Animal Torah CD.  This group  delves into Omanut (art), Torah stories, holidays, values, Hebrew letter movement, prayer, cooking, Kids Tzedakah Shuk and family fun with art and exploration.  See prior years’ good stuff on The L’CHAIM K-2 BLOG.

RUACH LAB – 3rd-7th taught by Morah Sophie Spencer-Zavos.  Sophie is also our Teen Leader and youth group advisor, and works for the Oral History Project at the Yiddish Book Center.  Last summer she worked on the Lev Squad of Eden Village Camp, and taught across America.

Musical Shabbat Shirah services, Shabbat B’Yachad (“Sabbath Together”), Tot Shabbat & Havdalah Havurah – We encourage families to be involved with community and family services offered throughout the year, because taking time out for joy, services and meals together on Shabbat  is what it’s all about.  Singing, Torah Improv, Torah study, and Shabbat meals.   Watch the Beit Ahavah Highlights, emails and calendar for upcoming events.  Families always encouraged to participate.

Chugim/workshops & Family involvement days – Engage favorite passions and new skills. Parents and community members help teach specialties like Jewish Kids Chorus, plays, Jewish Potions & Lotions, Jews in sports, Jewish cartooning, paper-cutting, Israel Inventions, Miriam’s Tambourines, Challah-baking and Teva (nature).  Parents are often our favorite specialist,s so let us know what you can teach!

Kef = Fun! Dodge the ball in Ga-Ga, s’mores-dallah campfires, Shabbat-spa, bonding trips to Boston, scavenger hunt to the moon… because Jewish education is FUN!

Tot Shabbat & Bim Bam Ahavah are geared for families with kids 0-6.
Tot Shabbat & Tot Sha-Potluck, 1st Friday of the Month, 5:15 p.m.

Teaching and Madrichim job opportunities – Contact Rabbi Riqi.

More program descriptions:

TOT SHABBAT & Tot Sha-potluck – families with kids ages 0-6 & friends, 1st Friday of the month, 5:15 p.m. led by Marlene Rachelle.  Flyer here.  Founded at Beit Ahavah by our beloved Peggy Walker z”l.  Tot Shabbat is the wonderful, musical hour celebrating the Sabbath and holidays followed by a vegetarian (no nuts) potluck, and pizza provided.  Bim Bam Ahavah is a morning play & prayer program for families with young kids focusing on music, movement and drumming.

RUACH ARTS – Grades preK-2 taught by Anna Sobel meets Sundays 3:30-5:30 p.m. with additional opportunities for Friday nights, Saturday morning “Shabbat B’Yachad” (Sabbath Together), family and holiday celebrations, gatherings, Hebrew aleph-bet through movement, art, cooking, Torah stories, values and crafts.  We also welcome pre-K kids who are 4-4.5 plus.

RUACH LAB – Grades 3-7 meets on Sunday afternoons 3:30-5:30 p.m. as a projects “laboratory” for advance Jewish learning, with off-site “chavaya” adventures,  opportunities for Saturday morning Shabbat B’Yachad (Sabbath Together) events and family holiday celebrations, and family-led gatherings.

HEBREW HAVURAH – Grades 3-7 meets Thursdays after school from 4:00-5:30 p.m. to study modern Hebrew and the prayer services, with healthy snacks, songs and fun in a great learning studio environment.  We utilize progressive curricula including URJ Mitkadem, Hebrew Through Movement, Shiri the Llama, Hebrew in Harmony, and have a lot of fun.   The Hebrew Havurah teaching staff is passionate about Hebrew for kids and includes Rabbi Riqi and Hebrew specialists.

B’NEI MITZVAH JOURNEY is led by Rabbi Riqi Kosovske. It typically involves peer cohort that meets bimonthly, Thursday evenings from 5:30-6:45 p.m. for students whose B’nei Mitzvah service is scheduled in the upcoming year or two, with family involvement in services and class Shabbat dinners.  Vegetarian/vegan pizza dinner is provided by families.  The Journey also includes outside private tutoring, meeting with the rabbi about designing your service and D’var Torah, working on a Tikkun Olam project, the family and student involved with services, community and synagogue involvement, and participating in our teen and tween programming.

“TORAH IMPROV” led by Heidi Haas is a specialty during special events, class or holidays.   Heidi’s improvisational drama games, bibliodrama and learning are always  a creative, inclusive experience of Jewish stories from the Torah, Holidays and Midrash, with games, fun and imagination!

Tot Shabbat, Bim Bam Ahavah & programs for families with children 0-6

Tot Shabbat at Beit Ahavah

The wonderful magical, musical hour led by Marlene Rachelle with Rabbi Riqi, full of movement, stories and instruments welcoming the Sabbath and holidays.  1st Friday of the month, 5:15-6:30 p.m. with a vegetarian Tot Sha-potluck dinner; cheese pizza provided.  Please bring a veggie dish (no nuts) to share.  Welcome parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, interfaith, LGBTQ, newcomers, old-timers…  All are welcome!

See Tot Shabbat flyer here (pdf) for dates and more info.  Click HERE for the wonderful Gazette article on our joyful Tot Shabbat experience featuring many of our families — great quotes by beloved families.  Lois Peirent is our fabulous Tot Shabbat Coordinator (and Vice President) and happy to help welcome newcomers to our robust Tot Shabbat community.  Major funding provided by Harlold Grinspoon Foundation Family grant.  Co-sponsored by PJ Library of Jewish Federation of Western MA.


Teen events for grades 678 and 9-12  * BAFTY youth group *
B’nei Mitzvah Journey * Post-B’nei Mitzvah learning *  NFTY-Northeast regional and subregional events and weekends * Madrichim

Contact Rabbi Riqi or Sophie Spencer-Zavos (Teen Advisor) at to share your ideas for teen programs.  Generous support by Harold Grinspoon Foundation Teen grant.

NFTY-Northeast is our region of the Reform youth movement “North-American Federation of Temple Youth.”  Read about NFTY-NE regional upcoming events this year here:  An advisor or Rabbi Riqi attends along with each group of teens.

Teen Info FORM: Please click HERE and fill out this 60-second Teen Information form so we can better stay in touch with teens, tweens and parents about upcoming events at Beit Ahavah, in the Valley and NFTY-Northeast.

Hanhalah = הַנְהָלָה = Teen Leadership Team.  Hanhalah is the group of teens who step up/step in to be managers and brainstormers of program ideas, creative events and things for teens.  They meet at Dobra Tea or other places to plan and think up teen programs, social justice topics, trips or issues important to teens.  This looks great on high school transcripts.  Anyone willing can be on Hanhalah.  Contact Sophie to inquire or step in.

MADRICHIM = מַדְרִיכִים = Teen Teaching Assistants/Teen Leaders (sing. Madrich, Madrichah).  Madrichim comes from the word “derech” – “to guide someone on their road.” These are paid or voluntary positions.

The Madrichim Program is built for teens who have become B’nei Mitzvah (over 13) and are looking to continue their Jewish journey as youth leaders in RUACH, Hebrew Havurah and Tot Shabbat.  Madrichim are students in 8-12th grade and involved with our Teen program. Madrichim serve as role models, teaching assistants and guides to younger students in K-7 and young families.  Madrichim are nurtured and coached by Staff to develop teaching and leadership skills while strengthening Jewish identity. Many Madrichim have gone on to other leadership roles, leading or teaching a class on their own while in high school, becoming a camp counselor, or other teaching and counseling professions.  Madrichim arrive with teachers for set up and clean up.   Supported by Harold Grinspoon Foundation Teen grant and Anonymous Family Teen Donation.