Curriculum and teachers

Religious School



(Stacy Lappin)

Our littlest learners at Temple Beth El are given the opportunity to experience Judaism from a hands-on perspective, guided by their teacher and the parents in the co-op preschool community. Students experience different learning centers each week related to their topic of study, begin building their Hebrew vocabulary, listen to stories and participate in music. The goal is to build a foundation where basic connections with Judaism can be created, and both child and parent feel connected to their community.


(Nina King-Madlem)

These first years of Jewish learning are spent immersed in the stories of the Bible and what it means to be a Jewish child. Students are introduced to key Jewish terms through their learning about the Jewish holidays, the synagogue and the family.  Through creative activities and stimulating materials, the students begin to understand what it means to be Jewish. Utilizing the URJ’s CHAI curriculum, students study Torah, worship, and g’milut chasadim (acts of loving-kindness) through age-appropriate texts and resources.



(David Snyder)

Students in this class rotate through three curriculum topics: life cycle, Jewish holidays and values, and Israel. They attend curricular-based classes each Sunday that address their yearly topic of study.  Students attend chugim (activities) throughout the year, and also engage in multi-age learning through opportunities for speakers, special events, and short courses as a group.



(Ruth Kenner)

Our sixth grade topic of study is Eyewitness to Jewish History, in which our students will explore 20th century Jewish history with an eye to creating their own Jewish “history” using their family and their stories.



(Greg Kleiner and Steph Farber)

The students in seventh grade study the core stories of the Torah, beginning in Genesis and working through Exodus, examining them at a more mature level to understand their meaning and contemporary lessons.  In addition, this special year addressing the needs of our bar and bat mitzvah students aims to give students opportunities to process the experience that they are going through during this year of changes, and encourage them to make the commitment to continue their Jewish studies through adulthood.


ART (Stacy Van Wagoner)

MUSIC (Brianna Jones)

COOKING (Matthew Madlem)




Each grade level participates in a set course of study appropriate to their grade level, and, in addition, they work together on communal service projects and take mini-electives throughout the year.


(David Snyder)

Students in our eighth grade class take an in-depth look at Jewish history, giving them a sense of our people’s journey, literally, from Sinai until now. They learn about major Jewish thinkers and doers in every century, and spend a considerable amount of time studying the Holocaust.

TENTH GRADE      Confirmation

(Rabbi Kadden)

The tenth grades explore the topic of Jewish identity through a variety of articles and resources on such issues as: being Jewish in a non-Jewish world; who is a Jew?; recognizing and responding to anti-Semitism; the meaning of Israel; and why be Jewish?.  Toward the end of the year, the class prepares for Confirmation on the evening of Shavuot by creating a worship service, choosing a theme, and writing a d’var Torah based upon the theme.


(Ruth Kenner)

Our concluding years of formal Jewish study are spent delving into the idea of what it means to be spiritual and what role God might play in our lives. Students are challenged to think deeply about Judaism’s role in their own lives, and what makes up their sense of Jewish identity at this point along the journey.




(Brianna Jones)

This introductory year of Hebrew uses a variety of Hebrew primers to expose students to the letters and vowels that are the building blocks the reading and writing the Hebrew language.  Through the use of meaningful and familiar Hebrew words, students learn how to decode the language step-by-step through reading and writing activities. Also introduced at this step of learning are simple prayers and blessings that make use of the key vocabulary introduced in the text.  The goal of this year is to allow students to grow into proficient Hebrew readers at its conclusion.

SIXTH AND SEVENTH GRADE     Advanced T’filah, Torah trope, and Modern Hebrew

(David Snyder)

These years of Hebrew study seek to imbue students with the ability to become proficient in both prayer and Hebrew grammar. Students work with our rabbi to become fluent readers of the many prayers of our liturgical service, and look into the meaning of these prayers at a deeper level. Students also work with our cantor to learn Torah trope so that they are fully prepared to enter their b’nai mitzvah study privately. For these advanced Hebrew students, we also offer the opportunity to study modern, conversational Hebrew, connecting them to those in Israel who, daily, allow this language to live. Students will practice both Hebrew writing (through the learning of Hebrew script) and conversation, and will build their Hebrew vocabulary through every day words used in Israel. They will also leave the year with the ability to conduct regular business in a Hebrew speaking world, being able to engage in conversations about family, the transactions of business, and other practical matters.

Back to Religious Education page