The Religious School is divided into three departments: the Primary Department, the Hebrew Department and the Etz Chaim Department.
Connections to Judaism are formed early, so the Primary Department includes classes for kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades and is intended to help children acquire a basic familiarity with the many aspects of Judaism and Jewish life.
Our Primary Department students participate in various Friday night services, enabling them to become familiar with the rituals of Shabbat. Because Jewish experiences are of crucial importance to the healthy development of the Jewish child, parents are strongly urged to enroll their children in the Primary Department as soon as they enter kindergarten. The knowledge gained during these initial years provides an essential background for the Hebrew Department.
The Hebrew Department is a full five-year program, culminating in Religious School graduation. It is designed to build upon the experiences and knowledge acquired in the Primary Department and to expand children’s Jewish knowledge. Students learn to read and write in Hebrew, understand Hebrew prayers, gain an introduction to modern Hebrew vocabulary, and forge a connection to the language of our people.
Etz Chaim Department
Geared toward students in grades 8-12, our Etz Chaim program is designed for teens by the teens themselves. Facilitated by a talented educator, this student-driven program allows students to explore topics that are most relevant to them, including Jewish values, ethics, debatable issues, and popular culture, through meaningful conversations with the guidance and wisdom of the Jewish textual tradition.
Vision and Approach:
Whole Person learning will be our approach in order to help our students grow and learn to be knowledgeable, spiritual and engaged young Jews.
Our Whole Person Learning approach seeks to engage students by:
- Developing a spirit of Klal Yisrael
- Developing a sense of belonging as part of a caring, engaged member of the Jewish Community
- Creating a core sense of beliefs and values so that our students will be able to articulate and explore their own ideas and perspectives about Judaism
- Creating a meaningful and relevant Jewish experience that our students can actively participate in
- Developing essential knowledge and skills so that they can participate in Judaism as they grow and become adults
- Cultivating a sense of joy and love for being Jewish
Pre- K- 9:00 am- 11:00 am
Students in Pre- K will engage with a parent or caregiver in the exploration of Jewish learning. This interactive class will meet on Sunday mornings. Children will be introduced to rituals, symbols, Jewish holidays, Hebrew language, basic blessings and Mitzvot through songs, movement, stories, art, music, dramatic play and cooking.
All other grades- K-7 – Sunday 9:00 am-12:00 pm
Students in kindergarten will continue their introduction to the Jewish holidays, Shabbat, Israel,Mitzvot, Tefillot, Torah stories and Hebrew language. Kindergarten will provide a strong sense of community and reinforcement of basic Jewish concepts through singing, movement, stories, art, music, drama and cooking. Students will begin to acquire basic Hebrew vocabulary, sing Hebrew songs and learn oral Hebrew expressions through storytelling and dramatic play.
Students in 1st grade will deepen their knowledge of the Jewish home, synagogue, and the holidays through storytelling, exploration of Jewish symbols, music and art projects. Students will begin to recognize the Hebrew letters. Students will engage in the weekly Torah portion through dramatic play. They will explore the synagogue based holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Purim and Shavuot as well as the experience of these holidays in their Jewish home. Students will engage in doing Mitzvot as a class throughout the year. Students will also continue their exploration of Tefillot.
Students in 2nd grade will begin learning about Israel as the Jewish homeland. They will also explore our responsibility to do G’milut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness). A class Mitzvah project will deepen this experience. Students will also continue to work on their acquisition of Hebrew language and literacy skills. Students will continue to identify letters and sounds, names of letters, vowels and will continue to learn to write their Hebrew letters. Students will continue to work on symbols, food, blessing and songs for each holiday in Hebrew. Students will begin to learn selected prayers of the Kabbalat Shabbat service. Students will study Parshat Hashavua. Students will focus on home based holidays during second grade including Shabbat, Chanukah, and Pesach. While studying these holidays students will begin to examine the Jewish calendar. Music, art, dramatic play, cooking and storytelling continue to add depth to the 2nd grade experience.
Weekday sessions will be 3rd-7th grade- either Tuesday or Wednesday from 4:30-6:30
During the 3rd grade year students will focus on menschlisckit and Middot. Students will study biblical heroes and what they can teach us about being a good person. They will explore the meaning of their Hebrew and English names as part of learning what it means to be a mensch. Their Torah component will be the Book of Bereshit. They will begin Hebrew reading,writing Hebrew script, as well as continue their Hebrew listening and speaking skills. Students will also learn a variety of blessings: which includes kiddush, the four questions, the Chanukah blessings, and Shehecheyanu. Ivrit b’Ivrit will begin.
Students in 4th grade will continue to focus on what it means to be a mensch by branching out into the greater community including: home, school, clubs, etc. Students will participate in a social action project. They will return to Israel as our Jewish homeland and will learn what it means to live in Israel by studying how their peers in Israel live. Students will focus on Shemot as their Torah study for the year. They will also study key Shabbat Shacharit Tefillot: Barchu, Shema, Vahavta and Mi Chamocha, as well as Havdallah and will search for lessons and repeated themes in the words of the prayers they read. Students will also begin to explore their relationship with God as part of building their Jewish identity. Music, art, dramatic play, storytelling and cooking will continue to deepen their understanding. Ivrit B’Ivrit will continue.
Students in 5th grade will explore what it means to live a Jewish life by studying Jewish life cycle rituals including: naming ceremonies, Bar/bat Mitzvah and marriage. Students will study of Kashrut and how that relates to living Jewishly. Students will engage in a survey of Vayikra through Devarim as their Torah Study. They will use Pirkei Avot and The Prophets as a base of what it means to live with Jewish values. Students will continue to learn Shabbat Morning Tefillah with a focus on: Baruch Sheamar, Ashrei, the Amidah and the Kaddish Shalem. Students will continue with Ivrit B’Ivrit. Music, drama and art will deepen and enrich their experience.
Students in 6th grade will spend the year engaging in B’nai Mitzvah preparation and what it means to become a Jewish adult and the responsibilities that they will take on. Students will focus on Mincha, Maariv, the Torah Blessings and Haftorah Blessings as their study of Tefillah. Students will explore the structure and content of their Torah and Haftorah portions. Students will explore Torah with commentary of key Torah stories from Bereshit through Devarim. Students will study a survey of Jewish history post Biblical history to the Expulsion of Jews from Spain. Ivrit B’Ivrit will continue.
During 6th grade, families will come together once a month on Sunday morning to study the process of becoming B’nai Mitzvah as a family and will explore Jewish texts, what it means to participate in social action and social justice and the overall significance of becoming B’nai Mitzvah.
Students in 7th grade will focus on their responsibilities, rights and obligations in becoming a Jewish adult. Students will address issues regarding: what does it mean to be good, becoming a powerful leader, being a hero, etc. Students will study different thinkers, Jewish personalities, contemporary Jewish thinkers, rabbis and teachers to help them address these value oriented issues. Topics will change from month to month. Students will explore Torah with commentary of key Torah stories from Bereshit through Devarim. Students will continue their study of a survey of Jewish history from the Expulsion of Jews from Spain to the creation of the State of Israel. Students will explore their personal Jewish identity. Students will also begin to explore what it means to be a Jewish teen in today’s world. Ivrit B’Ivrit will continue.
Etz Chaim Program- Meets on Wednesdays from 6-8 pm
Students in 8th grade will focus on Hot Topics regarding being a Jewish teen in today’s world. Students will explore their place in the different communities that they are a part of. Students will also spend time being mentored as they begin their work as Madrichim. Students will continue their study of Jewish history from the creation of the State of Israel to present day. Students will also spend several sessions preparing for their Ta’am Yisrael Trip.
Students in 9th grade will focus on their relationship with Israel. Students will explore what it means to be a Jew living in America as opposed to their Jewish peers living in Israel. Students will have the opportunity to study Midrash as their text study. Students will also continue their mentoring program as Madrichim and what it means to be a role model in our community. Students in 9th grade will engage in a several week curriculum around the Holocaust.
Students in Pre- K through 6th grade will engage in the Shabbat Morning experience twice a month from 10:00-12:00 pm. Students will be divided into appropriate age groupings and will create a Shabbat experience with their peers that is age and developmentally appropriate. Parents of students in Pre K and Kindergarten are encouraged to stay with their child for this Shabbat experience.
Young Family Programming
Young Family Programming will take place twice a semester. Some proposed programs:
K-2 Havdallah and Magic Show
Young Family Shabbat Dinner
Ice Cream Social
Grade Level Family Programs (Twice a semester)- One will be curriculum and one Social Action
Pre K and Kindergarten (Once a semester)– Families will engage in their Shabbat experience by learning how to make challah, learning the songs and blessings centered around Shabbat, making a kiddush cup and a Challah cover together as a family.
First Grade– Jewish symbols in the home and Mezuzah Family Workshop.
Second Grade– Parents will help their students plan two Mitzvah projects- one that will take place inside of the synagogue and one that will serve the greater community.
Third Grade– Students will engage with their parents in the study of their Hebrew and English names. They will spend time discussing what your name means as well as making a family tree to represent the significance of family and how that relates to the importance of a name.
Fourth Grade– Students in 4th grade would engage with their parents in a social action project during one of these sessions. The remaining sessions will be spent creating a “family trip to Israel”.
Fifth Grade– Students in fifth grade will engage with their parents on what it means to live Jewishly as a family.
Sixth Grade (once a month)– Students in 6th grade will engage with their parents on the process of becoming B’nai Mitzvah.
Seventh Grade– Engaging in social action and Mitzvot as our 7th graders become young Jewish adults and how to make that a family affair.