PRESCHOOL THROUGH SECOND GRADE: Midrashat Chozek
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.
These first years of Jewish learning are spent immersed in the stories of the Bible and what it means to be a Jewish child. A variety of resources are used to expose students to Bible stories that have been loved throughout the generations, giving them a sense of personal place within the realm of the greatness of Jewish history. In addition, students are given a cursory exposure to the Hebrew alphabet to prepare them for their first grade year. Study of Jewish holidays is also included as a part of the curriculum.
First graders 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. They also continue their Hebrew studies through activities to reinforce their knowledge of the alphabet as well as exercises to begin the formal development of their Hebrew vocabulary.
The second grader’s focus of study is the Jewish life cycle. Through engagement with ceremonies such as baby namings, bar and bat mitzvah, weddings, and through study of the roles of rabbi and cantor in the synagogue, students begin to develop an understanding of the importance of Jewish ritual to mark milestones throughout life. Students will participate in a mock wedding, and will demonstrate an understanding of the important people in the synagogue by leading their own Shabbat service for their parents as a culminating event. They will also reinforce their Hebrew skills by continuing to review the alphabet and beginning to learn how to read and decode.
THIRD THROUGH SIXTH GRADE: Midrashat Kavod
Using the URJ’s Chai Curriculum as a core around which all of the other pieces of the learning experience fit, our third through sixth graders cycle through a four-week schedule that offers them different opportunities for growth and knowledge in both conventional and unconventional ways. Through the CHAI curriculum and their Judaica studies, students develop advanced understandings of the core topics of Torah, Avodah (worship) and G’milut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness). Students attend chugim (activities) throughout the four-week cycle, and engage in multi-age learning through opportunities for speakers, special events, and short courses as a group. Each morning, students begin their day in our technology lab learning Torah through G-dcast, an innovative series of short videos and lessons on the weekly Torah portion.
SEVENTH GRADE: Sha’arei L’ma’asim
(Greg Kleiner and Steph Farber)
The students in seventh grade will return to the core stories of the Torah, 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.
HEBREW HIGH SCHOOL
(Nina King-Madlem, Amy King Schoppert, David Snyder, Rabbi Kadden)
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. Additionally, during the 5773 school year, all grades will participate in one five-day trip (date to be determined) away from Temple Beth El in order for the students to connect with each other and further define their Jewish journeys through study and communal service work in a different location each school year.
EIGHTH GRADE Jewish History
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.
NINTH GRADE Ethics
The ninth grade ethics class curriculum is a combination of Rabbi Ronald H. Isaac’s book “Critical Jewish Issues, A Book for Teenagers,” experiential learning activities mainly drawn from Tom Jackson, short films, and group discussion. The students drive the class direction with guidance; they determine what the most pressing issues are. The teacher acts as a facilitator to ask how these ethics issues fit into a Jewish life.
TENTH GRADE Confirmation
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.
ELEVENTH AND TWELFTH GRADE Practical Judaism
Our concluding years of formal Jewish study are spent learning the how and why of Jewish practice and observance from a more mature place than ever before. Using “The Complete How-To Handbook for Jewish Living” as their core, students explore rituals relating to holidays, Shabbat, and every day life. Through this process, we hope that they begin to develop goals for personal observance in their lives once they venture out on their own towards college and beyond.
This introductory year of Hebrew uses the primer Shalom Uv’racha (Script Edition), 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.
Continuing Hebrew: Multi-Age Learning Options
Hebrew through Mitkadem
Using the URJ’s Mitkadem curriculum, students advance through their Hebrew studies at their own pace with the guidance of their teacher and the volunteer madrichim in their classroom. Mitkadem consists of 23 ramot, or levels, and students work through each individual level on their own or with their peers, acquiring grammatical skills, having the opportunity to practice their Hebrew reading, building their vocabulary, and achieving prayer fluency.
Advanced T’filah and Dikduk
This Hebrew section seeks to imbue students with the ability to become proficient in both prayer and Hebrew grammar. Like Mitkadem, students lay the foundations for a better understanding of grammar concepts and mastery of prayers and vocabulary through a frontal and cooperative learning environment.
For our advanced Hebrew students, we 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.