We offer an introduction to Religious School for all Pre-Kindergarteners ages 2-5 years old. Parents are invited (but not required) to stay throughout the class. As your children become more comfortable separating, you are able to drop them at 9AM, then enjoy your free time, coming back at the end for T’filla (services), which brings the entire religious school community together from 11:00–11:15AM in the sanctuary.
This is a preschool class where you can meet new friends and build budding Jewish relationships that can blossom for years to come.
During these classes there will be tons of hands-on art activities, spirited movement and music, playground time, and fun Jewish learning.
Visit our KIDdish web page to learn more and to enroll!
In Kindergarten there will be two main themes. The first theme will be “Let’s Discover the Holidays”. This curriculum will introduce young children to holidays with lively artwork, playful activities, and clear text students can understand, even if they can’t yet read!
The simple retelling of each holiday story, the introduction of key holiday objects, rituals, and vocabulary, and delightful activities reinforce new concepts and engage the young child. The holidays that will be covered are; Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Shabbat, Hanukkah, Tu B’Shevat, Purim, Passover, Yom Hatzmaut, and Shavuot.
The second theme is “Let’s Discover God.” This curriculum is packed with simple poems, full color photographs, inventive activities, and discussion questions vividly bringing to life the wonder and variety of God’s world. At the same time, children learn basic prayers and blessings we recite to communicate with God in our everyday life, including the Motzi, Sh’ma, Sheheheyanu, Modeh Ani, and the blessings over Shabbat candles.
In addition to this curriculum, our Kindergarten class is always busy with music and stories.
The theme of first grade is “Discovering Myself in the Jewish Story.” Many of the lessons in this level utilize the stories of the individuals and the families found in B’reishit (Genesis) as an entry point for student understanding about what it means to be part of the Jewish people.
In the Torah strand, the students will journey through these stories and will identify qualities and attributes of our biblical role models that they themselves can emulate.
The Avodah strand focuses on holiday experiences and how participating in them connect us to the story of our people. Finally, the G’milut Chasadim strand introduces students to the concept of loving kindness. They will learn fundamental Jewish values and connect their own behavior with their Jewish identity.
The theme for second grade is “I am part of the Jewish people.” During the course of the school year, students will explore their relationship with the Jewish community and with God.
The Torah strand draws upon the lessons in the Book of Sh’mot (Exodus) that describe the transformation of the Israelites from slaves into a people eternally connected to each other and to God. The Avodah strand addresses fundamental questions about our relationship with God and finding connections to God in Jewish ways. In the G’milut Chasadim strand, the students will learn about the Jewish concept of g’milut chasadim (loving kindness) and how performing personal acts of loving kindness connect us to our community.
The theme of third grade is “Learning for Jewish Life.” The goal is to enable students to draw direct connections between Torah study and their lives. This Torah curriculum is not based on the telling of Bible stories. Rather, it is designed to allow students to engage, at an age-appropriate level, with the treasures that Torah holds for their (and our) lives. We are less concerned with students’ ability to retell a particular Torah story than with a student’s ability to ground an understanding, decision, or behavior in his or her study of the text.
The primary goal of the lessons in the third grade Torah strand is to introduce the children to the notion of holy living or living a life filled with k’dushah (holiness). The mitzvoth (commandments) that are the core of Vayikra (Leviticus) are rules that are designed to help us feel God in all aspects of our lives, even the seemingly mundane.
The enduring understandings at the heart of all the Avodah lessons are: Avodah is the work we do to find sacred connections to God, community, and self. Engaging in the work of avodah can bring order, beauty, meaning, and insight to our lives. Through avodah we can make our lives and the world more kadosh (holy).
Several of the lessons focus on understanding God and our relationship with God. Where can we find God? What kinds of people, places, ideas, and rituals can help us? What do we do when we have questions about God? In addition, some lessons look more closely at specific texts (Torah texts and prayers). Those lessons derive messages from texts that can help us connect to God and can guide our behavior. Students are also introduced to specific prayers that they can incorporate into their lives.
The third grade G’milut Chasadim lessons explore the idea that we each have the power to make the world more kadosh (holy). In particular, students learn how to apply the messages of our texts to our actions. Throughout third grade, students study in-depth how they might perceive the world and God’s relationship to themselves in a holy way, how their decisions and perspective can bring holiness into their lives and the lives of others. In this strand, lessons focus specifically on our behaviors and how even the smallest of them can tip the balance toward a holier world community.
The fourth grade Curriculum focuses on the last two books of the Torah: B’midbar (Numbers) and D’varim (Deuteronomy). The book of B’midbar (Numbers) takes its English name from the census that is taken within this book. B’midbar comes from the Hebrew meaning “in the desert.” This book chronicles the many years that the Israelites wander in the desert. D’varim (Deuteronomy) comes from the Greek meaning “second telling.” D’varim in Hebrew means “things.” The name is taken from the beginning of the book when Moses is recounting for the Israelites all of the “things” that have happened in their history. In this book, Moses reminds the Israelites of their history and their legacy.
The three concepts focused on in the fourth grade Torah strand are: Am Yisrael (the Jewish people), Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), and the b’rit (covenant) between Am Yisrael and God. These concepts are essential for understanding how our behaviors affect others in our community, the overall theme of the fourth grade Curriculum Core.
The fourth grade Avodah lessons begin to shift the students from a highly personal experience of worship to an understanding of formal Jewish prayer, especially (though not exclusively) within the synagogue setting. The goal is to complement the prayer competency training the students will be receiving in their Hebrew language studies with an understanding of our basic prayers and their meaning for us as individuals and as a faith community. In addition, the fourth grade lessons address the major themes of keva and kavanah in Jewish prayer:
- Kavanah: The proper intention and emotional focus that enable us to connect with God during prayer; the proper concentration in order to open our hearts and minds to connect with God during prayer in our worship experiences.
- Keva: The fixed order of the worship service; the practice it takes to feel comfortable using the traditional words of prayer.
These lessons introduce students to the Jewish value of g’milut chasadim—personal acts of loving kindness—as it relates to their family and friends and people they encounter in their daily lives. At the end of these lessons the children should have a basic understanding of some of the ways in which their relationships with others involve acts of g’milut chasadim. The students will be aware that they can learn about g’milut chasadim from the Torah and other Jewish sources and that they can take an active role in performing g’milut chasadim in their everyday lives.
Fourth grade is the start to our formal Hebrew program. During the fall semester our fourth graders will work to increase their Hebrew reading fluidity. Then in the spring semester the fourth graders will transition into the self guided Hineni prayer booklets and begin to learn prayers for their bar/bat mitzvah. Visit our Hebrew page to find audio files and text.
Reform Judaism and the power of community are the themes for the 5th Grade Curriculum. The lessons address such questions as: How is Reform Judaism based on the messages of the prophets? What is the role of the individual in a community? How has our movement dealt with the prayers in the siddur? How can we reach out to those in our community?
The primary focus of the Torah strand for this level is N/vi’-im and prophecy; for Avodah, the focus is prayer as a connection between self and community; the focus of the G’milut Chasadim strand is reaching out into the community.
The Books of the Prophets were chosen as the subject for the 5th Grade Torah strand to coincide with the students’ ability to examine the world critically. The Torah strand asks students to extrapolate their learning from the text and apply it to their everyday lives. We will ask the students to look at the world as God and the prophets did, and to suggest ways to correct the injustices they see around them. During the lessons students will learn about problems during the times of the prophets and will be asked to use the same critical eye to look at our world today.
The 5th Grade Avodah strand focuses on prayer as practice, a spiritual endeavor that, with learning and effort, can and should change the way we act in everyday life. With this level we continue the study of blessing units, focusing on the Amidah and Aleinu, Israel prayers and blessings, and the Kaddish prayer. A primary goal of the curriculum for this level is to help students discover the relationship between the regular practice of prayer and our actions in the everyday world. As Rabbi Harvey Fields says, “Jewish prayer is meant to turn our attention to the needs, problems and concerns of others.” The lessons in 5th Grade encourage students to see the connection between prayer as a regular practice and the behaviors we choose.
In 5th Grade, the G’milut Chasadim lessons focus on different aspects of the Jewish community. We want to develop within the students a positive attitude toward, and an appreciation of, the Jewish community in which they live. We hope that our children will come to understand that the Jewish community is a central force in the lives of individual Jews and plays a vital role in assuring Jewish continuity.
The Hebrew curriculum is a continuation of the Hebrew curriculum from fourth grade. Our fifth graders will continue to use the Hineni Prayer Packets to prepare prayers they will need for their bar/bat mitzvahs. In these prayer packets our students will learn key words in each prayer, the core theme of each prayer, basic grammatical rules, and artistically interpret each prayer. Visit our Hebrew page to listen to audio files and look at the text.
The thematic thread for 6th Grade is Revelation. In Jewish terms, Revelation refers to the experience at Mount Sinai, when we as a free people accepted the Torah and agreed to live in a covenantal relationship with the Divine: “Moses went and repeated to the people all the commands Adonai has commanded we will do!” (Exodus 24:3)
What is the meaning of Revelation in our world today? Liberal Jews understand Revelation to be ongoing; that is, each person in every generation has an opportunity to bring one’s self to the process. A goal of our 6th Grade Torah, Avodah, and G’milut Chasadim lessons will be to help our students, as they stand on the threshold of young adulthood, explore their own personal role—and power—in the ongoing process of Revelation.
The 6th Grade Torah strand will review the three sections of the Tanach and give the students and overview of what types of literature are found within the K’tuvim section. The students will also have the opportunity to begin to explore the idea of God’s ongoing Revelation as expressed in the writings section of the Tanach.
The thematic thread for 6th Grade is Revelation, and in preparation for the students’ b’nei mitzvah year, the focus in the Avodah strand is on the Torah service (seder k’riyat haTorah). A primary goal of this year’s work will be to help the students understand that Revelation—God’s interaction with us as individuals and as a community—is ongoing, and that each student has the opportunity to experience that interaction in his or her own life. The Torah service is itself a reenactment of the receiving of Torah at Mount Sinai, according to some scholars, and throughout the unit the students will be asked to consider the implications of that encounter in their lives today.
As our students approach adolescence, their understanding of the world begins to expand. No longer is their world centered only on their family, friends, neighborhood, or community. With their growing maturity, they are ready to explore the world beyond their own experience. They welcome opportunities to explore “the big questions” in life, questions whose answers can best be comprehended within the context of faith and religion. At this stage of their faith development, students are beginning to define their own image of God and explore a personal relationship with God. Some students may even be questioning their belief in God. In this lesson, and throughout this unit, we hope to provide them with multiple opportunities in which they might experience God’s presence in the world, and perhaps help them in their search.
Through the lens of g’milut chasadim, we will introduce the students to the Jewish concepts of covenant and Revelation. We will investigate some of the problems that exist in our world and encourage the students to take an active role in healing the world.
The Hebrew curriculum in sixth grade is designed by our teacher Marcia Gladstone. During the year students will fine tune prayers they already know in preparation for their bar/bat Mitzvah as well as look at Torah text to begin to identify key words used in the Torah. Visit our Hebrew page to listen to the audio files and see the Hebrew text.
Click here to visit the 7th Grade GESHER web page.
“Hineini—here I am,” is a response that appears several times in the Torah, implying a sense of being present in the fullest possible manner. As students reach the age of becoming a bar/bat mitzvah, they are encouraged to reflect on their lives as young Jewish adults. The period of their lives in which they were taught Jewish values is coming to an end. From here on they must find meaning in Torah for themselves, without the guidance of structured lessons. Students should be assuming responsibility for g’milut chasadim (acts of loving kindness) and making our world a better place without the supervision of an adult.
Our students need to be able to say “Hineini—here I am” when called upon or when they recognize an opportunity to perform tikkun olam (healing of the world). We are preparing them to step forward for themselves and find their own wisdom and meaning in the Torah.
In our GESHER program, our seventh graders participate in a number of family learning days where they focus on the meaning of prayer, tzedakah, social awareness, Jewish culture, and their b’nei mitzvah projects.
Visit our Hebrew Page to listen to audio files for 7th Grade.