Religious School Curriculum
Being Jewish: An Overview
We welcome four-year-olds to our ReligiousSchool! The curriculum is holiday-based and children are exposed to ceremonial objects and rituals associated with each holiday. Our connection to Klal Yisrael (peoplehood) through the State of Israel begins. Some brachot (blessings) dealing with food and Shabbat candles and the Shema and the Shehechiyanu are taught. Students also begin an oral Hebrew language program emphasizing phrases associated with self-identity, family, home, and holidays. Positive Jewish identity and the Jewish values of Derech Eretz (way of the land), Talmud Torah (study of Torah), and tzedakah are central to this grade. Music and library are an integral part of the JK program.
Introduction to Jewish Learning: God, Mitzvot and Shabbat
We explore what it means to lead a Jewish life through focusing on Torah study, Jewish music and Jewish holiday observance, with Shabbat and its rituals as a focus. We explore basic concepts about God including how we talk to God, acting in God’s image, covenant, mitzvot and what it means that “God is one.” An oral Hebrew language program is provided. Children are introduced to a number of important brachot (blessings) and tefillot (prayers). The senior kindergartners participate in a Consecration ceremony to recognize the beginning of their Jewish learning in the Religious School.
The Synagogue and Synagogue-Based Holidays
In first grade, students learn about the qualities and traditions which are unique to the Jewish community. A unit on the synagogue explores the “geography” of synagogues and the people who make them work. An age-appropriate interpretation of the weekly Torah portion is discussed, and a mitzvah module is given as “family” homework. We explore the synagogue-based holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Purim, Shavuot, and Tisha B’Av. Tefillot (prayers) used in congregational services are taught.
Genesis, Exodus, Home-Based Holidays, Aleph Bet
Second grade is an exciting year during which children begin to feel more comfortable with their abilities to read and to participate meaningfully in discussions. Students examine the book of Beresheet (Genesis), beginning with Creation and continue into Shemot (Exodus) to the ten plagues in Egypt. The home-based holidays-- Hanukkah, Tu B’Shevat, and Pesach-- are studied with emphasis on understanding why we celebrate and observe. Students study Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and its relation to us. Students begin learning the Aleph Bet and Hebrew reading readiness.
Third Grade: Aleph
Exodus, Hebrew Reading and Writings
Beginning in third grade, students attend classes on Thursday afternoons in addition to Sunday mornings. Formal Hebrew reading instruction continues. They learn to recognize and write Hebrew script, read phonetically, and follow along with tefillot (prayers) in the siddur (prayerbook). They begin to identify recurring words in the text and the siddur. The Shabbat table blessings (brachot) including the long form of the erev Shabbat Kiddush, are learned. The weekly Torah portion is discussed at the Thursday “Shabbat Party.”
Fourth Grade: Bet
Searching for Meaning
With their Torah study as well as with their study oftefillot (prayers), students search for the lessons, morals and repeated themes found in the words we read. The students’ relationship with God is another focus of study. Students explore Jewish life cycle rituals, including naming ceremonies, brit milah, consecration, bar/bat mitzvah, marriage, the Jewish home, death and mourning. Hebrew instruction focuses on the siddur (prayerbook), building their shorashim (root words) vocabulary and working to achieve fluency. Families learn the Havdallah ceremony.
Fifth Grade: Gimel
Comparisons: Building on our Foundations, Prophets
Having learned the basic rituals of the various holidays over the past few years, students analyze what rituals mean. Students examine newspapers each week and learn to “see the news as Jews.” Hebrew study centers on tefillot (prayers), with emphasis on the Shabbat morning service and the daily afternoon service. Students learn the Ashrei and the Shmoneh Esrei (Amidah). Discussions include examining what it means to be living as partners with God and why Jews pray, as well as translations and meanings of brachot (blessings). As part of the Family programs, students and their families explore their relationship with God. Units on kashrut, tzedakah, and the prophets and their messages will be studied.
Sixth Grade: Dalet
Tefillah, The Torah Service
As our students begin to look towards their B’nai Mitzvah, their studies turn to familiarity with and understanding of the tefillot of Shabbat morning, including the Torah service, music and trope (cantillations). Students discuss the parsha (portion) of the week and current events that affect Jews throughout the world. They learn to solve modern moral dilemmas using classical texts. Jewish historical figures are the focus of a special module. Hebrew focuses on comprehension of the siddur (prayerbook). In the Felicia Levy Bar/Bat Mitzvah Institute (BBMI), families learn together on 8 special Sunday mornings, exploring prayer, Jewish texts, social justice, and the significance of becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
Seventh Grade: Heih
American Jewish History, Holocaust, Jewish Current Events, Mishnah
In seventh grade, students study American Jewish history. Other topics include Holocaust studies focused on Jewish identity through the framework of “Facing History and Ourselves,” the world of Mishnah (rabbinic commentary on the Torah) and Jewish current events.
Eighth Grade: Vav
In the Eighth grade, students explore Israel through self-directed inquiry. They learn about individuals for whom Israel has made a profound impact. Students generate theories about Israel and Israeli society. Students are encouraged to attend the 8th grade Ta’am Yisrael trip as part of their year, and will create video diaries after each Sunday session and as part of this larger trip. A portion of the curriculum will also focus on learning about other faith communities. Students will participate in Chuggim, including Israeli dance, art, photography, drama and more.
High School Curriculum
High school students are invited to participate in our Leadership Institute, “Makhon le-Manhigut.”