Temple Sinai Preschool

Community Subscriber

Oakland, CA

To see Department of Social Services records on this facility, click on its DSS Facility License # below.

DSS Facility License #: 
Temple Sinai
ellen [at] oaklandsinai.org
downtown Oakland on Summit St.
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
24 months - 60 months
Monthly Cost: 
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
8:00am - 6:00pm
Additional Services & Features: 
Part-time available, Snacks provided, Special diet support, Potty training support, Special needs support
About Our Program: 

Temple Sinai Preschool is a Jewish, play-based preschool in Oakland.  We believe in growing mensches – good people. We nurture loving relationships among children, family and staff. Our educators facilitate exploration and imaginative play that support children’s growth socially, emotionally and cognitively.  Jewish values are at the core of our teaching and learning. Kavod – respect and honor for every individual is at the foundation of our inclusive, welcoming community. We offer full-time and part-time options. There are a whole variety of community building opportunities through parent education programs, volunteerism, family events, and class get-togethers. Come visit us to see our wonderful school in action!

Parent Reviews

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Hello! Welcome to the East Bay! We’re a very happy Temple Sinai family. Our older son will be starting religious school this fall, so we’re new to that aspect, but we’ve loved our years with the preschool. When we’ve attended Friday night services, everyone is warm and welcoming. We’re an interfaith family and we look forward to raising our kids with the Temple Sinai community.

Hi! In Oakland, I highly recommend the preschool at Temple Sinai! They do four week "camp" sessions, that are full day, at the preschool, but I don't think you have to go to the preschool during the year to attend. Here's the info: https://www.oaklandsinai.org/tsdpp_summer_camp.html

I believe temple Sinai in Oakland has openings in the 3s for next year. Amazing school. You don’t have to be Jewish but there’s lots of cultural content.

My child was hurt a few times in preschool and he is not the sort to speak up or lash back, but he would cry. The teacher’s said it was very healing for the other children to have their attention brought to the impact an action has on someone. No blame or saying sorry, just sitting with the feelings for a minute. Even if your child reacts differently, the teacher’s can say, Oh, Did that hurt? Was that touch too strong? Or other suggestive questions that all the children will hear.  I found the info very helpful and had a good experience-that was Temple Sinai David Pregerson Preschool. 

My half Chinese half Jewish white daughter attends Temple sinai preschool and loves it. The director, Ellen, could let you know if they have spots pretty promptly, I’m sure. 

Without a doubt, Temple Sinai in Oakland.  We are so happy we enrolled our child in the preschool there, which is absolutely full of interfaith families and a very high number of non-Jewish and non-religious families.  It's a wonderful school with caring teachers, and a lovely community.  Honestly, we were just looking for a solid school that worked logistically for our family.  We didn't realize it would quietly forge such a strong sense of Jewish identity and belonging for our child.  We've stayed members of the synagogue because our child loves the place so much, it feels diverse and welcoming, and the two Rabbis are both absolutely fantastic.

We were looking for similar features as you and we ended up sending our kids to Temple Sinai in Oakland. It’s not as outdoorsy as many of the places we visited but they do have a large outdoor space. What really attracted us to the school was that the teachers are experienced and happy and seem to really intuitively understand how to handle our rambunctious mischievous and creative bundle of energy who was getting into trouble at some daycare and toddler programs due to his behavior and aggression.  I have been absolutely thrilled with how well the teachers understand him and he has a really thrived And matured there. I am a little bit sad that he isn’t somewhere where he can play in the woods all day but he does not lack for anything and we will make up for that by sending him to an outdoor camp in the summer

Have you considered Temple Sinai's preschool? I belong there but haven't used it (kids were too old) but I hear really good things about it. Lots of Montclair families go--you'd develop a community of people close to you...

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Jan 2014

Re: Jewish Pre-school w/ current opening for 3.5 yr old
Responding to your message about a quality preschool for your 3.5 year old, our family has been a part of Temple Sinai Preschool (in downtown Oakland) for the past couple years and we couldn't be happier. Having experienced another school for our older child, at TSP we have found that the combination of a thoughtful, responsive play-based curriculum, welcoming community, and seamless infusion of Jewish culture and values has been a terrific fit for our family. Feel free to email me or contact Ellen Lefkowitz, the Director  with questions. Good luck! CG

Jan 2014

Re: Jewish Pre-school w/ current opening for 3.5 yr old
Your description of the preschool you want almost exactly describes our preschool, Temple Sinai Preschool. It is a terrific, play-based preschool in downtown Oakland, and we have found it to be a loving, nurturing environment. The teachers are wonderful - I've watched the kids in my child's classroom just blossom over the two years we've been there. They have been great at working with my family on potty-training and I'm confident that they'd be sensitive to shy kids as well. My child is in a classroom with two main teachers, but the rest of the teachers and the staff all know her name and welcome her with a smile or a hug.

And the parent community is amazing - friendly, supportive, and genuinely interested in connecting with your family. They even bring meals to families who have just had a new baby or surgery or other needs.

One nice thing about TSP is that they have a great after-care program, and you can use it on a drop-in basis. It's really helpful to have that resource.

There are lots of other wonderful things about the school - probably too many for me to summarize in this post - but I encourage you to call or email the director, Ellen Lefkowitz, to talk about TSP. 510-832-6800 x313 or ellen [at] oaklandsinai.org. -TSP Mom

Feb 2013

Temple Sinai Preschool in downtown Oakland has a few openings available for students in the 2013-2014 school year. TSP recently won Parent's Press/Oakland Magazine's award for 2012 Best Preschool in Oakland and the East Bay. It is a wonderful option for any family seeking the combination of a high-quality, play based preschool with a progressive Jewish education and community experience.

We came to TSP after being in several other settings with our kids over the years and it has been far and away our favorite and best preschool experience. After only a few months we already feel integrated and welcomed into the school and the broader temple community and our daughter is thriving. To learn more, visit the website at http://www.oaklandsinai.org/Preschool/ or contact Ellen Lefkowitz, the Director: ellen [at] oaklandsinai.org.

Feb 2012

I have a three year old son who is in the two year old classroom at Temple Sinai this year. We have been really happy with Temple Sinai, both the teaching and administration. I especially like that my son has two great teachers, one male, and there is a male substitute and music teacher, making a nice balance for an otherwise female environment. It is also a welcoming environment for intermarried and less religious families. Based on my experience, I would recommend the two year old classroom to new families, especially those not sure if their child is ready for a larger or more structured program. Temple Sinai is play-based and the children do not have to be potty-trained, though they are very supportive of these efforts, so it takes the pressure off and the two year olds can adapt to preschool without a lot of stress. happy parent

Dec 2011

Re: Preschools in Oakland/Berkeley for 2-year olds?
Our daughter goes to Temple Sinai Preschool in Oakland at 28th and Broadway. Children need to be 2 to start, and don't need to be potty trained. We love it there, the teachers are fantastic and it's a wonderful community. Kia

March 2011

We are thinking about Sinai's preschool for our 3 year old son and would love to hear from current families now that the school has moved back to the newly remodeled site. What do you like about the school? What do you see as its areas for improvement? What have your experiences been with the new director, facilities, teachers, curriculum, community, etc?

Our son is in his second year at Temple Sinai Preschool (TSP), and our younger child will start TSP next year (along with a third year for our older son). We can't say enough good things about the school. The teachers are wonderful - supportive and communicative. They really get to know the kids. The new director is incredible. She has really embraced the school, the children, and families. She's very quick to respond to questions and understand the needs of our children and families.

The new location is great - the play yard is a lot of fun and the classrooms are spacious and have a great layout. Drop off in the mornings is easy. We switch between using the curbside drop off and parking and walking in. My son LOVES the drop off (its kind of our special game in the morning ''can we get to school in time to do drop off!?'').

The school does a great job at helping shape our little ones into wonderful little people who understand how they fit into their community and world. There are lots of enrichment activities (yoga, drama, music...). Jewish traditions and rituals are part of the daily life - the rabbis and cantors know most of the kids by name also.

As far as areas for improvement... honestly, I can't think of anything. Any issues we've had, we've brought up to the teachers, director, or parent community with positive outcomes. For example, moving back to the new location meant that my son's classmates were going to be shuffled around (there were only 5 classes last year, the new location has 6 rooms). I was concerned about the split, but was able to have a very candid discussion with the director and teachers. Everything went smoothly, and I've learned to trust their knowledge and expertise.

This month is a preschool tot Shabbat with an oneg following the service. Please try to come! Its a great way to see the community, talk to other families, and learn more about the school. March 25th at 6:30 p.m. (30 minute service with an oneg that follows), there is also a pizza potluck prior to the service http://pizzapotluck.eventbrite.com/ Good luck! Happy TSP Family

Jan 2010

I am interested in getting feedback from parents who currently have kids in either Temple Sinai Preschool or Gan Mah Tov preschool. We are considering both and would love to hear how your child's experience has been as well as about your experience with the parent community. My child will be turning two this summer and we are considering both schools even though we are not very religious. Anon

This is our 4th year at Temple Sinai Preschool (TSP). I can't speak highly enough about our experience. When joining the community, we knew virtually no one. I found TSP to be warm, inviting and diverse. There is a strong parent participation component and an active and organized Parent Preschool Committee that plans special events for the children (Hanukkah Parties; Passover Seders) and the adults (Parent-Teacher Parties). The teacher turn over rate is very low and my 2nd daughter has the same teachers that my 1st daughter had 3 years ago! The teachers are creative and incorporate Judaic concepts into the classroom but also plan the curriculum around children's interests such as ''Dinosaurs or Space''. There is a great enrichment program where children have 'music', 'drama' or 'storytelling' weekly. The Rabbis visit the classrooms weekly and attend many of the preschool events. Overall, its just a wonderful, nurturing, community for the children and their parents! TSP Parent

We have two children at Temple Sinai Preschool and have been extremely happy with the school. It is a very warm and nurturing environment with an incredibly strong parent community. The school is well-run with a great director who is always open to hearing from parents. The teachers are experienced and give a lot of care and attention to each child on an individual level. The curriculum is based around the Jewish holidays and there is also a weekly Shabbat celebration where the kids love to participate including making Challah. There are tons of activities for parents who are interested - social events, parent education workshops, social action programs, etc. We honestly feel lucky to be part of such a wonderful community. Happy TSP Mom

editor note: in response to this question, reviews were also received for JCC Preschool in Berkeley and Gan Mah Tov

Jan 2009

For parents that are moving from the Berkeley area to the Silicon Valley area, or split their time between both areas as I do - I met a mom in Starbucks who was having a hard time finding a school, and when I told her about Sinai, she said I should post here so other parents know. Sinai Nursery School has an OPEN HOUSE January 25th from 10-12. My 3.5 year old has been attending Sinai since she was 2.5 and she loves the intimacy of the setting and thrives in the developmental focus and age-appropriate curriculum. They have openings in 2-pre-K (6). Please contact the school director Miki Gurantz at 1532 Willowbrae Ave. San Jose, CA 95125(408) 264-8486. The web site is www.sinainurseryschool.org. This is a Jewish school but I am not Jewish, neither is my daughter, and the community is amazing and welcoming.Facility Number: 434408052 Contact: Miki Gurantz - director, (408) 264-8486

March 2006

Any advise regarding choosing between Temple Sinai and Gan Avraham Preschool? Thank you for the help. jenny

We are at Temple Sinai Preschool, and I couldn't think of a better place for our child!!! The staff is top-notch, the director is amazing and sooo dedicated, the curriculum is wonderful and has lots of enrichment, and the facilites are great-- a playground that my child wishes he could attend on the weekends, when there is no school. We also looked at Gan Avraham, and would have gladly attended the school, but there were no spots at the time our child was ready to start. I think you can't go wrong with either school. In terms of community, we frequent events (Shabbat services, holiday celebrations, etc) at both synagogues, since we have made lots of friends at both. Good luck with your decision! Happy TSP family

(Reviews were also received for Gan Avraham Preschool )

April 2005

My daughter was accepted at Temple Sinai Preschool starting in the fall. We have visited and I liked what I saw, but I'd love to hear from some current parents. The reviews in the archives are dated. Some specific questions -- my daughter will be among the very oldest (she's an early fall birthday) in the 2 year old class. Will this matter? She's very verbal but socially somewhat awkward, and she sometimes gets excluded by other kids at her current daycare. Have you experienced this? Were your children prepared for kindergarten? Do they get enough free time and outside time? I recognize that every child is different, so people's experiences will be different, but I'd love to hear people's thoughts, good or bad. Thanks. prospective TSP parent

Temple Sinai preschool is phenomenal-- in so many ways! I carefully researched many Oakland and Berkeley preschools (and visited most of them!), before deciding to send my child to TSP. So far, in our esperinece the teachers are amazing. I have personally learned a lot from them! The kids get a lot of high quality outside time and inside time with the teachers. The director is so devoted and makes it a priority to get to know each and every child. I can't think of a more nurturing place, but also a place where a kid gets to be a kid. They have wonderful enrichment activites, regular visits from the Rabbis and the cantor...my child wakes up on the weekend asking if he can go to preschool that morning.

In regard to your kindergarten question...I feel my child is well-prepared intellectually and academically at TSP. There is a mix of where kids go to kindergarten after TSP. There are quite a few kids going to public as well as private next year-- including Piedmont schools, Head Royce, Bentley, Joaquin Miller, Canyon, Montclair school and Berkeley public schools too.

You didn't mention if community amongst the families is important to you, but it definitely exists. For example, when we had a baby, we had overwhelming support from other families (people we had just met thru the preschool) who brought us homecooked meals, took our child to school and back for us, etc. There are also nights out and special parent-only events for parents to get to know each other-- which has been nice.

The only bad thing that I can think of is that the school only goes until 3:30pm, when they have to make space for the religious school students. Often, parents that need more time than that share a nanny or have come up with other strategies.

Good luck with your decision! TSP parent Current TSP Parent

I have two children currently enrolled at Temple Sinai Preschool-- one in the two year old class, and one moving on to kindergarten next year. My eldest has been there since he was two, so we've been there for three years. It has been a very positive experience for both my children and our family as a whole. All of the teachers are very skilled at getting to know the children and their different needs well, and helping them learn to express emotions, use words to talk through conflicts, etc. My daughter was one of the youngest in the two year old class this year-- many in the class turned three right after school started. This age difference is not a problem as their curriculum is all very open-ended and the teachers are always right there helping students with the social experience. As far as having enough free and outside time, there is a lot of freedom built into the schedule. Even when there are stations set up with different projects, the students do what they choose to do, and if they don't feel like working on any of those projects they are playing in the other areas of the room. They are usually outside for 45-60 minutes a day, I think,sometimes more or less depending on the weather. It is a very developmental, play-based preschool, so when you ask if they are prepared for kindergarten, that depends on what you mean. They do not make the kids sit and learn letters and numbers, and practice writing or tracing words, etc. But they do have lots of opportunities to engage in activities around letters, numbers and science at all levels, but especially in the 4 year old class. They all have regular circle times, and in the 4 year old class do calendar time as well. So they are used to the kind of day that a kindergarten class presents. I feel like my son is very well prepared for kindergarten, but as you say, everyone is different. The preschool is great in lots of other ways-- we have a new director this year who is very committed and has done an amazing job. Being involved in the preschool is a great way to become more of a part of the synagogue, if that is something that interests you. Next year the preschool is adding a second 2 year old class, with the goal being to have two classes at each age sometime in the near future. But one of the school's goals is also to keep the small family/community feeling that it currenttly has. Oh, and I forgot to mention, my kids are both so happy to go to school! They love it.  Happy TSP Parent

I have nothing but positive things to say about Temple Sinai Preschool. My daughter entered last year as one of the oldest (also turned 3 in October), and has had a wonderful experience. The program is developmental so children have a lot of time to play, explore, and follow their interests. Teachers focus endlessly on social and emotional development in wonderful ways classroom, etc. Teachers are very loving and caring. Your daughter will get personal attention, and so will you. I could go on, but just know that it's all positive. (And, my 2nd daughter will also be starting in the fall!) amy

I can't directly address your question about entering the 2 year- old-class with an older child since my son started at TSP as a four-year-old, however I can tell you that I have a daughter who will be going to TSP (eventually) as one of the older kids in the two-year-old class, and based on my experience at TSP I can't wait for her to start!

Simply put -- we love the school. My son adapted really well and easily to the school -- I think because it is such a warm, welcoming and engaging place. The teaching staff is fantastic (I have gotten to know and like the teachers from all the classes), the director is organized, responsive and kind, and the kids are really great with each other because the teachers are so tuned-in to what is going on.

I have total confidence that the teachers will meet my daughter's needs (whatever they turn-out to be) -- they are so respectful of each child as unique and interesting.

Good luck with your decision. Happy at TSP July 2002

I'm interested in having my toddler attend a Jewish preschool in Oakland or Berkeley. I checked the website, but would like more recent responses, specifically if anyone has had positive or neative experiences with their child attending Temple Beth Abraham's or Temple Sinai's preschool.

My son just completed three years at Temple Sinai Prsc. and we have been very happy there. If you are looking for a small school, with a supportive, participative community, that offers playbased curric., you will enjoy it. Benefits are that you learn Jewish traditions, songs, prayers, holiday rituals. It's a warm, caring place. Lisa N.

My daughter attends Temple Sinai preschool and I am very happy with it. My daughter is thriving and is very excited to go to school. In fact, she cries if we can't find a parking spot right away and have to drive around the block thinking we're not going to go after all. They provide a very nurturing as well as stimulating environment. I believe that it is developmentally based. I also like how the staff and teachers interact with and speak with the children and that they focus on teaching social skills. Jewish culture and tradition is built in the curriculum and the rabbis and cantor all visit the children each week. They also do a very lovely shabbot every Friday that many parents attend as well. My only complaint is that they do not have extended care hours past 3:30 which is hard for working families. Also, it is very hard to get into unless you are a temple member. If you are seriously considering this school, I would join the temple as long as possible before applying. We joined 8 to 9 months before the start of the school year and ended up 4th on the waiting list. It can also be very hard to get into the 2nd and 3rd year preschool classes as few spots open up. It's always worth a try however as people do get in.

Temple Beth Abraham also seems to have a great preschool and seems to be easier to get in if you are not a member. We were going to go there prior to getting into Temple Sinai school. I think their directors are terrific and I've only heard very positive things about their school. Hannah

October 1999

We have sent both our kids to Temple Sinai e and love it for a large variety of reasons. Primarily, the staff is wonderful, very experienced and well trained. We have always felt that our kids got more focused and direct attention and had more simple fun and better friendships at Temple Sinai Preschool than at the three other places they attended. The curriculum and some art projects are moderately structured (with set circle times and outside times and group projects). We haven't been able to do field trips this year because of state regulations.

The director, Susanne Goldman, is extremely caring and focused and still has little kids herself, which is a surprisingly important factor in the mood and effectiveness of a school.

The play yard is used by all the age groups at once only in the summer when there are far fewer kids. I have never felt that it was crowded or small, and it's better equipped and maintained than many. In the course of my work and my attempts to find schools for our kids when we've moved, I have visited perhaps 50 preschools and child care centers.

I wanted to add two comments to my plug for Temple Sinai Preschool: Its curriculum is developmental and play-based, and the community of parents is uniquely warm, friendly and supporting. I can't say enough to recommend it! Laura