Meaning and Mission

‘Gesher’ Defined

Gesher means “bridge” and it is what we call our school, it is a bridge between the Temple and the home, the history and the future, a bridge between youth and adults.

Mission Statement & Goals

The educational program for Temple Anshe Hesed is committed to fostering and instilling a Reform Jewish identity through lifelong educational experiences in a comfortable and inclusive environment. 

The Goals of the Gesher Program include:

  • Fostering Jewish identity through formal and informal learning experiences, family education and worship, Jewish values, and observance of mitzvot;
  • Encouraging lifelong study of Torah, religious practice, history, literature, and the Hebrew language
  • Promoting spiritual and personal relationships with God through prayer and worship
  • Establishing an inclusive, welcoming, caring, and compassionate community that models, teaches, and validates diversity;
  • Creating connections with the land of Israel, its people, and its history; and
  • Embracing and integrating the spirit of K’lal Yisrael (Jewish unity throughout the world)

Sunday School Programming

Gesher -Religious School / Hebrew

Gesher is a 2 hour religious educational program ranging from Pre-K – 10th grade on Sunday mornings held from September – May. Hebrew Education outside of the Gesher program is geared towards 3rd – 7th grade during the hour that follows Gesher on Sunday mornings. The Hebrew program is supplemented by a Distance Learning Program that includes a 1 on 1 tutor session 2 hours a month scheduled at the convenience of the student, family, and teacher.


In our Madrichim program teens support the Religious School by assisting as a teacher’s aid in the classroom or working in other school capacities such as a Hebrew tutor. This program offers teens the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills. There are limited spots available for Madrachim. If you are post- Confirmation (11th &12th grade) and are interested in helping in this capacity, please contact the Coordinator.


The Gesher Program uses the Chai Curriculum, formulated by the Union for Reform Judaism and distributed by Behrman House Publishers. Lessons may be enhanced with art, music, and special projects as researched by the teachers.


The students of Gesher bring in monetary donations, Tzedakah (charity money), throughout the school year. Their donations come from loose change they may have to money they have earned from doing chores at home. All students have input and vote where they feel their donations should best go to help a non-profit organization. Below is a list of organizations that have benefited from our student’s Tzedakah from 2018 & 2019.

Emma’s Footprints
Humane Society of Northwestern PA
St. Jude
JCC of Erie Holocaust Bus Fund
Make A Wish Foundation
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
Spearman’s Youth Development Center 

Student Led Services

Tot Shabbat

Tot Shabbats are services geared towards families with young children. This interactive Shabbat service is full of storytelling, song, and dance engaging the entire family in T’filah. This welcoming, relaxed, and upbeat service gives families of our very youngest congregants time to connect and foster new relationships. The family friendly Shabbats are followed by a family friendly dinner enjoyed by all.

Temple Anshe Hesed schedules 3 Tot Shabbats a year during November, March and May with dinner at 5:00 pm followed by services at 5:30 pm.

Holidays and Special Events

The Gesher Program at Temple Anshe Hesed offers holiday programming for students of all ages. 
During the school year, the Gesher Program celebrates:
Student led Shabbat Services
Rosh Hashanah
Yom Kippur
Simchat Torah
Tu B’Shevat
Yom HaAtzmaut
Lag B’Omer

Camp Gesher

Temple Anshe Hesed offers a one-week Jewish Day Camp during summer vacation.  This camp allows our students that are too young for Jewish Overnight Camp to deepen their Jewish connection as well as retaining their Hebrew knowledge.  Each year there is a different camp theme that engages the students in learning as well as Tikkun Olam.  The week long program ends with a family friendly Shabbat that is enriched with the student’s experiences from Camp. 

Gesher Shabbats

Throughout the Gesher school year each class leads a Friday night Shabbat service.  This is a very inspirational service full of “ruach” (spirit).  The students share a D’ var Torah as well.  This practice of sharing a Torah thought has been done through speaking their perspective, sharing a poem, or sharing an illustration.  Gesher Shabbat is a building block that instills experience and confidence in our students to lead services.  
B’nai mitzvah
A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a very significant event in the life of a young Jewish person and an important day for the entire family.  It is a day which there have been many months of intensive preparation and years of study.   
At Temple Anshe Hesed, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony symbolizes in Jewish terms the passing of the child from intellectual, emotional and spiritual childhood into adolescence.  The ceremony is celebrated by the participation of the young person and their family in the Erve Shabbat service (Friday evening) and by leading the Shabbat morning service.
Consecration marks the beginning of a child’s “formal” Judaic studies and officially welcomes the students into our Gesher program.  Students are invited to participate in consecration their kindergarten year of school.  We also welcome older students who are just beginning their religious studies at a later age.  This special ceremony is marked with a gift of a Mini Torah Scroll for the student to cherish in their own home.  For hundreds of years there has been a ceremony to mark this occasion.  
Confirmation is a ceremony celebrated in the end of 10th grade.  It is tied to the Jewish holiday of Shavout.  The students confirm a commitment to Judaism, to Jewish life, and constitute an affirmation to the Jewish people.

Hello and Welcome to Gesher!
My name is Kendra Zacks and I’ve served Temple Anshe Hesed as Program Director of Gesher since 2017. 

Please reach out to me with any questions you have regarding enrollment, membership, or any of the programs listed above. 

Email me directly at:

Or leave a message for me in the main Temple office at: (814) 454-2426


(814) 454-2426

5401 Old Zuck Rd., Erie, PA 16506