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Religious School - Our Curruculum

OVERVIEW (scroll down for specifics)

We are very proud of our curriculum! It was thoughtfully crafted over several years, by a team of parents and faculty, with the support of a NESS (National Excellence in Synagogue Schools) grant administered through Jewish Learning Works.  Our curriculum consists of several components:

Jewish Values – Each grade focuses on a core set of 3 to 5 Jewish values. Our students study the texts, stories, prayers and history of Judaism through the lens of these values.  Mishpacha (family) days focus on one of the core values for the grade.  Each grade also engages in a social action chesed (kindness) project that connects to the values they are studying.

Torah and Talmud – Each grade studies several stories or texts, through the lens of core Jewish values.

Ahavat Tsiyon (Love of Israel) is integral to who we are and how we study.

Prayers – We study the prayers as expressions of our Jewish values. Click here to listen to our Shabbat Junior Congregation CD >>

Hebrew language – Knowledge of Hebrew connects us to Jewish communities of past, present and future generations. It is the language of Torah, Jewish prayer and the State of Israel, and through it we develop our sense of pride and Jewish identity.  Our goal is reading fluency, comfort with the main prayers of a Shabbat service, and understanding of key words that express our values.

SPECIFICS

Bat-, Bar- or B'MITZVAH

B'Mitzvah study is more than simply learning the words and melodies for reading the Torah, Haftarah, and tefillot (prayers). Beyond the connection to text and ritual, we establish mentoring relationships, often lifelong, with our students. Our students develop their sense of connection to tzedakah and chesed, deeds of loving kindness. We also encourage families to explore opportunities to participate in the event, and we will help make this participation possible.

We have been privileged to watch the transformation that takes place in our young Jewish adults. This is the first time that students will read from the Torah, experiencing the wonder of connecting with our sacred traditions. They will have the opportunity to teach us Torah, and to join the community as full-fledged members. Please enjoy this time in your lives; share it and savor it as a special period of growth and of fulfillment.


Vav (6th) AND Zayen (7th) GRADERS are treated to an extraordinary set of offerings.  

  • “Mitzvot” with Rabbi Nat Ezray.  Our senior rabbi teaches our Zayen class, exploring mitzvot as obligations of kindness in real life. Students visit Second Harvest Food Bank and the Peninsula Humane Society. They learn CPR. Each student forms a relationship with an elder in the congregation. Most important is the relationships the students form with the rabbi himself.
  • “Hands-on Mitzvot” with Cantor Barbara, Rebecca Schwartz, Lauren Ferber, Erin Meak, Abbey Renee, and Ethan Barek.  The best way to learn is by doing. Or Vav students study the mitzvot of caring for the earth, feeding the hungry, respecting elders, and others, and engage in actually doing these good deeds as they study them.
  • “Trope” aka Cantillation with Cantor Barbara Powell.  Students meet the cantor in small groups, during religious school hours, organized around their Bar/Bat-mitzvah dates. These sessions cover the skills for learning a Torah portion and the Haftarah blessings. At the end of their sessions, students should have knowledge of the basic trope (cantillation) for reading Torah.  
  • “Modern Jewish History” with Rabbi Ilana and guest speakers.  Zayen students study the transformative events and movements of the past century: the Holocaust, Zionism, early Labor and Feminist movements in America, and communism and Soviet Jewry.  With her characteristic openness, Rabbi Ilana encourages a nuanced perspective to every topic.  She asks her students to seek to understand complexity, and gently pushes them to be inspired by this history toward activism today.  “If you will it, it is no dream!”

Gimmel (3rd), Dalet (4th) AND Hey (5th) GRADERS

Our wonderful morot (or teachers) ground our Jewish values with story-telling, crafts projects, heated discussions, playacting, and more.

In addition, students meet either in person or by Zoom for a weekly workshop to develop their Hebrew reading and prayer skills.

Hey with Morah Riva Jacobs especially lifts up the values of tsedek (justice), of tselem Elohim or seeing every human as unique and created in the image of the divine, appreciating diversity, and standing up for the most vulnerable in society.  In this year, students continue to study individual passages directly in the Torah text, but also zoom out to appreciate how the pieces of the text fit together.

Dalet with Morah Heather Hoffman especially lifts up the values of kavod (respect), chesed (kindness), and asking questions. In this year, students begin to study Torah stories in the original text, and develop the skills of analysis and asking questions.

Hebrew workshop with Riva Jacobs (Dalet and Hey - 4th or 5th grade).   Morah Riva has put together an incredible set of offerings for students to work at their own pace, under the supervision of herself and a team of teachers, volunteer tutors and TAs. Each Dalet and Hey student gets a private Zoom call with Morah Riva each week to keep them on track.

Gimmel with Morah Natalya Martyushova especially lifts up the values of “love your neighbor as yourself”,  welcoming guests into the home, and shalom bayit (peace in the family). In this year, every student receives a siddur, or prayerbook, as a gift from our community, and the students begin to lead Junior Congregation.

Junior Congregation with Dan Leemon is essential during these years.  During the week our students study the prayers, but on Shabbat they learn how to do them. We encourage parents to join as well.  You may find that you learn as much as your child does, and enjoy the feeling of being together in community.

Alef (1st) AND Bet (2nd) GRADERS

 Our wonderful morot (or teachers) ground our Jewish values for them with story-telling, crafts projects, song, and more.

Bet with Morah Michal Lucent especially lifts up the values of kindness to animals and tsedakah. Near the beginning of the year, each student decorates their own tsedakah box to bring home with them. The year culminates with a field trip to the Peninsula Humane Society, during which the class presents the money they have a collected.

Alef with Morah Casey Inman especially learns about the Torah’s creation story, and focuses on two of the mitzvot emerging from this story: Shabbat and protecting our planet.  Morah Casey’s students are treated to an especially fun series of crafts projects throughout the year

KINDERGARTEN FAMILY CLASS

Kindergarteners and their families are invited to participate in a monthly class on Sundays with Morah Casey. “How good and pleasing it is, when brothers and sisters come together (Psalms 133).”  Families expand their connections to Judaism and to each other, through reading, discussion, building and play. Come play with us! 

Mon, January 30 2023 8 Shevat 5783