Nomie Azoff believes that receiving a proper Jewish education does not necessitate a family belonging to a synagogue. This is why, in 2002, she opened Judaic Studies by Nomie (JSN), an independent Hebrew School unaffiliated with any Temple or organization.
“What makes JSN different than all other unaffiliated programs is that students are learning to be proud of their heritage in a fun and unique way in addition to learning Hebrew, bible, prayers and Israel’s history,” she said.
At the Agoura Hills-based program, Azoff teaches weekly classes as well as Bar and Bat Mitzvah lessons. In addition, JSN offers events and extracurricular activities related to Jewish holidays, such as Talit workshops, Shofar making, Model Seders, Holocaust speakers and Shabbat/ Havdalah services and workshops. She also leads regular tours to Israel.
“Time can be critical in today’s world for parents who are trying to fit so much more extracurricular activities, more than kids can possibly handle,” said Azoff. “Kids are simply too busy with other activities and Hebrew school, unfortunately, becomes secondary … That saddens me, because I feel that we are on the verge of losing kids’ interest in their rich culture and in Judaism in general.”
Money is also a factor for many families who end up skimping on a Jewish education. “My fees have always been much lower than the temples and this year, I lowered the annual fee even more by 20 percent,” she said. “Parents who need help, always get it. It’s as simple as that. There is no bureaucracy or committees involved, which make it embarrassing or uncomfortable to anyone in need.”
Unlike traditional Hebrew schools, JSN promotes the different denominations of Judaism–Orthodox, Conservative and Reform with no discrimination or favoritism of one stream over another. “Students learn what unites all streams of Judaism ” she said.
Born in Casablanca, Morocco, Azoff speaks five languages. At age 10, her family moved to Israel and settled in Jerusalem. After moving to the U.S., she graduated from CSUN in 2000 with a degree in religious studies/Judaic studies. For many years, she attended professional courses in Judaism offered by the Bureau of Jewish Education and completed seminars at the University of Judaism and in Israel to further her knowledge of the field.
“Nomie understands that kids have a short attention span and teaches in a fun, quick manner that the children do not even know is taking place” said Sharon Neiyer of Agoura Hills, whose two kids attended JSN.
In addition to class work, Azoff offers her families trips to Israel which enhance their study of faith and tradition. “What makes it unique to study at JSN and travel to Israel with me is that there is a continuation, a much stronger connection to the related material for the Bar or Bat Mitzvah,” she said. “The Torah portion comes alive while traveling in the footsteps of our ancestors.”
For the fee of a tour guide, Azoff provides all of the trip planning as well as the Bar/Bat Mitzvah arrangements.
“My trip to Israel with Nomie was magical from start to finish,” said Yael Raz McMillon of Thousand Oaks. “She is a great story teller and kept my kids interested and engaged the entire trip.”
For more information about JSN, go to www.jsnbynomie.com/jsnbynomie.com/.Or visit her Facebook pages on JSN & on Israel tours at: www.facebook.com/IsraelWithNomie?ref=hl or www.facebook.com/jsnbynomie?ref=hl