Curriculum

1.       Our Curriculum

THE UNDERPINNINGS OF OUR CURRICULUM: Why Our Focus is on Jewish Identity 
 Plato’s statement, “Education's first stages determine a person's future life,” means that we – parents and teachers – are affecting eternity. The education we provide our children today affects them forever. What an awesome responsibility we are carrying! 


What constitutes a quality education? Surely, in this age of information, a good education is not only about building knowledge or honing skills (though that is surely important too.) The ever important goal is to build the child’s identity, the child’s sense of self. For it is with our fundamental sense of self that we approach every aspect of our lives. 


For Jewish children, their sense of self is intrinsically bound to their Jewish identity. It stands to reason: If a child needs a positive self-image, a Jewish child needs a positive Judaic image. 
That is why this is our primary objective in Hebrew School: To transmit the beauty of Judaism, helping the child to identify with his/her heritage, and enabling a truly positive ‘Jewish self’. 

Goals of our program:

·         To foster positive feelings towards Judaism – a feeling of pride, familiarity and love for being Jewish, and a sense of belonging to the Jewish community, the Jewish people and Israel.

·         To build knowledge of mitzvot and Jewish traditions, Torah stories, and Jewish values, with hands-on experiences and discussions

·         To gain the skill of Hebrew reading

·         To encourage students to express their opinions and ask questions about the Torah in today's day and age, finding relevance to their lives.
 

We believe that lessons must incorporate hands-on activities (cooking, crafts, song), discussions, and texts. They must have practical relevance to the student’s lives, with provocations to inspire them to look beyond themselves. 

We are 100% committed to creating an environment for our students and their families to flourish and to connect. We look forward to a wonderful year together, partnering with you to fashion our children’s Judaic experience.

 

 

2.    Courses of Study

Our curriculum includes components of each of these courses:

  • Tefillah, prayer
  • Kriah, Hebrew Reading
  • Israel
  • Holidays
  • Mitzvot
  • Torah Stories
  • Values

   

TEFILLAH – Prayer:

Beginning with the youngest class, we sing well-known prayers, slowly increasing both the amounts of prayers and the depth of their explanations. Our goal is for our students to attain a familiarity with the words of the prayers, the mechanics that attach to those prayers (ie: when to stand, etc.), and its deeper messages. We visit the synagogue to get a taste of its culture. 

For many, prayer is an acquired taste. But if we focus on the purpose of prayer – a quiet escape in the busy-ness of our day in which we can concentrate on our Purpose – we recognize the necessity of the Prayer endeavor. If we can train ourselves from the youngest age to seek these touchstone moments, imagine the gift we’ve given ourselves?! 
Click HERE for further practice of the morning prayers.   
 

KRIAH – Hebrew Reading:

Our students learn to read and write Hebrew, and build vocabulary related to the mitzvot and holidays. Although the children will not be able to open a Torah or Prayerbook and understand its text, the fact that they can read the words in the original language helps forge a powerful bond with Judaism. Reading Hebrew connects the child to a 3,000 year old language, used by our people over all that time, no matter where we found ourselves. It is a language that is part of our heritage and helps each generation connect to its past. (Besides, Hebrew is fun for kids! Hebrew is purely phonetic, and decoding it is one big puzzle!) Please click here for a fuller description of our Kriah Curriculum.


ISRAEL – Our Land

Israel is our homeland, with significance to the past, present and future of the Jewish people. In story and song, our program emphasizes the inherent connection to this special land.


YOM TOV – Jewish Holidays:

Lessons on each of the (colorful!) Holidays will fill our calendar as we march from the High Holiday season, though Chanukah, Tu Bishvat, Purim, Passover, Lag B’Omer and Shavuot. Each holiday has a story, a message and cool traditions and customs! The students explore each holiday with hands-on activities and in depth discussions, with lessons spiraling upwards. 

Chabad hosts holiday celebrations for our students and their families, offering authentic experiential learning, adding dimensions to the student’s Judaic education.


MITZVOT – Divine Connectors:

Mitzvah, often translated as ‘good deed’, refers to actions that anchor lofty concepts into daily life. There are categories of Mitzvot that relate to the interpersonal; mitzvot that are holiday and Shabbat-related; related to life-cycle events; and mitzvot that are not intuitive (ex: eating kosher) but serve as a mechanism for honoring our relationship with G‑d. 

Our curriculum covers a broad spectrum of mitzvot, exploring how we do them, why we do them, and how our actions in general have the capacity to bring light to the world.


TORAH STORIES- History

6,000 years ago a story began…Our Story, and it is intrinsic to our identity as a people to learn the stories of our ancestors. But stories are much more than a body of knowledge of names and places. Stories give us the opportunity to engage with the personalities of the past, applying the lessons gleaned from their struggles and triumphs to our own lives. 
Our curriculum covers the stories in Genesis, Exodus and parts of Numbers. Additionally, we cover a selection of personalities from later on as well.


VALUES & ETHICS:

Good values can be compared to a bird’s wings. Sure, the bird’s body is what keeps it alive, but its wings makes it soar. Who am I? What do I stand for? What does ancient Jewish tradition have to teach me? Using stories and scenarios that have practical applications to our everyday life, students empower themselves with a Jewish Value System.

 

 

3.    Hebrew Reading and Ivrit Class (Hebrew Language)

Grade K

Our Kindergarten class is introduced to Hebrew Reading through games, crafts, songs, and stories. Each letter and vowel takes on a fun ‘personality’ which is used as a means to help the child remember the letter’s shape and sound. As we slowly integrate letters and vowels, our students learn the patterns of Hebrew, and how to sound short words. We use multiple strategies, thereby accommodating all types of learners.
 

Grades 1-3: Younger division ALEPH CHAMP 
Aleph Champ, modeled after the Karate Martial Arts system of motivational colored levels, breaks up the Hebrew reading process into bite sized motivational levels which makes it more kid friendly and exciting.

Students start as a white Aleph Champ learning half of the aleph bet. Each Aleph Champ level has a color coded book, flashcards, workbooks and a medallion which is awarded once a level is passed.  All of these work together to create the motivation needed to progress in their own way. 

 

Grades 4-8: older division ALEPH CHAMP 
The older division Aleph Champ is run similarly to the younger division. The students are learning at their own pace rather than together as an entire grade. The older division uses workbooks and has a slightly longer period for Aleph champ.
 

Ivrit (Hebrew Language)

We feel it is important for our students to learn the Hebrew language in addition to their reading and writing skills. Every class gets a learning period with Morah Aviva Marcovich (teacher at Donna Klein Jewish Academy) where they get a chance to learn basic Hebrew language depending on their grade.

4.    Class-by-Class Curriculum

In addition to Prayer, Hebrew Reading, and a spiraling Holiday curriculum, each class explores this curriculum:
 

Kindergarten:

 “Alef-for-Avraham” – A scrapbook of mitzvot and Torah personalities, introduced in the order of the Alef-Bet


Grade 1: The Book of Genesis

 “In the beginning, G‑d created the world” and filled it with people. But, oh, the journey was not so smooth. Meet the personalities of the 1st Book of the Torah, the Book of Genesis. Learn their stories and think about the choices we would make in their situation. We make a creative scrapbook to go along.


Grade 2: The Book of Exodus

 I am a free American kid. Why should I care about the slavery and exodus? Once we explore the full story, I can find myself right in the text! How’d the Jews get to Egypt? What was life like for them? What was the pathway towards freedom, all has what to teach us in our lives today!


Grade 3: My Jewish Home

Torahpedia covers a spectrum of mitzvot, exposing the students to the multi-faceted and incredibly interesting practices that comprise our Jewish religion.


Grade 4: The Desert…Where we Learned to Become a Cohesive People

The 40 year journey in the desert, post exodus, has a lot to teach us about our lives as we explore the struggles and triumphs of our people as we struggled to attain an identity


Grade 5: Our Jewish Town

 This fun course imagines that we are building a Jewish Town. We have a synagogue, a kosher restaurant, a Judaica shop, etc. We then explore the many mitzvot that surround these spaces.


Bar & Bat Mitzvah Division: Jewish Life Cycles

 Mazal Tov! Each of our students “gives birth” to a set of twins and follows “their” children through the colorful and meaningful life cycle events.