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Congregation Beth Elohim Religious School

Curriculum:  Grades K-7

Kitah Gan (Kindergarten)

Our kindergarten curriculum focuses on the concept of "My Jewish Day" which starts with the idea that taking a regular day and just twisting a little bit can change it to be a Jewish day! Holidays are taught through experiential sensory activities; the Torah curriculum begins with creation and goes through the Joseph narratives. Hebrew words and Hebrew songs expose students to the modern Hebrew language. Students learn prayers such as the Sh'ma, blessings over candles, bread and wine, and the blessings associated with special days such as Shabbat, Chanukah, and Passover. Students participate in Tzedakah projects such as food drives and other acts of giving and caring. Our approach is very interactive and experiential and students begin to develop a special and positive identity around what it means to be Jewish. These students are extended a formal welcome into the world of Jewish learning at a special Friday night celebration.

Kitah Aleph (Grade 1)

Aleph students learn to recognize all of the Hebrew letters and learn the Hebrew alphabet in its entirety. This is accomplished through songs, worksheets and key vocabulary associated with each letter. They learn about their Hebrew names as an important symbol of Jewish identity and identify their names with family members or members of the Jewish people. Holidays are reinforced through a "Building Jewish Life" pamphlet series, hands-on projects, songs and games. Through Bible stories, students identify with families in the bible such as Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Leah and Rachel, and are able to apply these lessons to their own lives. Students continue to learn new blessings over fruit, over cakes and cookies, and Shabbat songs and prayers in preparation for their class celebration. Aleph students decide on special Tzedakah projects throughout the year to help others in need.

Kitah Bet (Grade 2)

Bet students participate in a Hebrew reading readiness program using a phonetic approach. By the end of the year our hope is that they will master the 22 basic aleph bet letters and basic vowel sounds. Students work on being able to read 2 syllable words.

Holidays are explored as students learn about rituals, history and biblical background of all them major festivals of the year.

Students begin to interact with the siddur by learning blessings for food and holidays and by learning the basics of the Shema, Modeh Ani and the Oseh Shalom.

In the second grade the students focus in on Jewish values by reading Bible stories that occur after the Five Books of the Torah. Tzedakah projects vary each year but continue to instill the concept of giving as a habit and obligation.

Israel is explored as children learn about Israel's importance to the Jewish people. Different cities are identified in Israel and students are exploded to the culture, food and dance.

Kitah Gimel (Grade 3)

Our Gimel class begins our two-day per week program and features a more formal emphasis on Hebrew reading, enabling students to achieve whole word competency in reading and chanting new prayers from the Friday evening Shabbat service. Students continue to learn Torah and Midrash, focusing on Abraham through the life of Moses and the Exodus. As students learn to appreciate the ethical concepts in the Bible, they are able to analyze the characters and their relationships within a system of values and beliefs. Students learn new Hebrew words from everyday classroom language, including colors, days of the week, counting to 10, names of the months, body parts, family members and from a language text based on familiar experiences in their world, such as vocabulary around holidays and Jewish values.

The study of each holiday includes an understanding of symbols and blessings, history and observance, and events and characters associated with the special day. Students learn to appreciate each holiday through active experiential involvement which may include songs, stories, and/or games. Tzedakah projects enable students to give attention to timely events in the world. Students make conscious choices to respond to those in need both locally and globally. For example, each year students use their Tzedakah money to purchase school supplies for needy students in the area.

Our Gimel class students learn about Israel and its symbols: the flag- its emblem; its seat of government- the Knesset; and the national anthem - Hatikvah. Emphasis is placed on helping the students understand that the modern State of Israel is a democracy much like the United States, yet is also the historical "Promised Land" described in our Bible studies. The students participate in activities which will concretize their connection to Israel.

Other special units include a series of explorations about God and Shabbat.

Gimel students participate in a special family Shabbat dinner and service with one anther and with their families to express their understanding and appreciation of the Shabbat experience. At the service they participate in a Siddur ceremony, at which each student will be presented with his/her own personalized prayer book.

Kitah Dalet (Grade 4)

During our Dalet year, students enter a new area of Bible study which includes the Early Prophets. These begin with Joshua leading the Jewish people into the land of Canaan and continue with the period of the Judges, including Deborah, Gideon, Abimelech, Samson and Samuel, concluding with an introduction to the period of Kings beginning with David. At this stage of learning, students are guided to identify with the challenges and achievements of each of these leaders, and utilize role playing, debates, and other active experiences to appreciate the decisions which these leaders faced in order to overcome obstacles to preserve the Jewish people. Students recognize the loyalty of these Judges toward Judaism and the traditions and values which they maintained.

The study of prayer focuses on certain prayers unique to the Friday evening service such as Ahavat Olam, Yotzer Or, Ma'ariv Aravim, Berachot and Adon Olam. Prayer also includes Torah blessings, the V'ahavta, and other common and more lengthy prayers. Students build stronger reading skills using the siddur (prayer book) and practicing prayers in class and at home. In addition, students learn key concepts and key words of each prayer, often through creative writing, in order to personalize the meaning of each prayer for each student.

Holidays continue to be taught through creative activities and students enjoy expressing their understandings through art, writing, dramatizations, by creating personalized ceremonial objects, games, and through current media. Kitah Dalet completes its studies by discussing God. Through this curriculum the children explore ideas of God and holiness and discover a Jewish vocabulary for thinking and talking about God.

Kitah Heh (Grade 5)

One special feature of our Heh curriculum is the study of Israel. Students learn about the people, lifestyles, cultures, foods, land, modern builders of the state, and more. When learning about the initial concepts of a kibbutz and how, over time, many kibbutzim took on their own personalities, students are placed in groups of four and are asked to design their own kibbutz based on the needs of the team. It is our aim to instill in our children an emotional connection to Israel and a strong desire to visit and support Israel as our people's homeland.

The Bible/History focus of our curriculum is on Kings, Later Prophets and Writings. Therefore, students learn about the lives of the Kings Saul, David and Solomon, and delve into their personalities and character development. They learn about the reasons/conflicts that lead to the division of the Land of Israel and the formation of the two independent kingdoms of Judah and Israel. They also learn about lesser-known figures such as Jeroboam, Rehoboam, Elijah, Elisha, as well as Isaiah, Hosea, Amos and other prophets. They learn about the destruction of the First Holy Temple, the Babylonian exile culminating in the rebuilding of the Second Holy Temple. Finally, they study selections from the biblical book of Ruth. In all cases students focus on the leadership, strengths and limitations of these key characters, and the conditions which encouraged or discouraged their success in preserving the traditions and beliefs of the Jewish people. Students apply their understandings to their own lives in relationships with friends, family, teachers, and other important individuals. Students begin to recognize how political structures affect leaders' goals and seek analogies to modern leaders as well.

Holidays are taught as an integrated component of the Israel curriculum and students learn about holiday practices in Israel, as opposed to other countries around the world. Students compare their life styles to children their own age in Israel. They see how Isreli children are in many ways similar to kids in the US- to the point where they can picture themselves as the Israeli boy or girl being described in the book. Contemporary issues and Tikkun Olam or social action projects also grow out of the study of Israel and students are bale to tune in to the ever-important changes in Israeli life today.

Our prayer curriculum is primarily focused on the Sabbath Amidah, a central collection of prayers, and students continue to practice reading skills utilizing the siddur (prayer book) as both prayer and Hebrew reading text. Students learn key vocabulary and roots for prayers in the Shabbat morning service, along with the ethical concepts and mitzvoth related to each prayer.

Each year, Kitah Heh celebrates a class havdallah service together on a Saturday evening.

Kitah Vav (Grade 6)

In Kitah Vav our prayer/ritual focus is on the Shabbat Torah service, from taking the Torah from the ark, to the reading of the Torah, to returning the Torah to the ark. Students learn to read all the prayers and melodies of this part of the ritual. We continue a very successful program of teaching students how to chant from the Torah. Students learn the troupe, or note system of Torah chanting, and have the opportunity to read from the Torah- most, if not all, for the first time-- at our class Shabbat in January.

The second major curriculum element for Kitah Vav is the holiday of Pesach (Passover) which serves as our gateway to Holidays, Bible and history, Hebrew, Israel, and Tzedakah. Our two primary texts for this unit are A Family Haggadah, a colorful and very user-friendly edition of the traditional Haggadah, and the Book of Exodus. We explore why the Pesach holiday plays a central role in the Jewish calendar, in our ethics and ritual observance. We discuss the significance of the themes of slavery, freedom, and responsibility and ask what these mean to us. We learn about the Seder ritual in depth-- its structure, the importance of questions and questioning in Judaism, this significance of the number four (cups, questions, children). We learn the rituals and melodies of the Seder to enhance students' participation at family Seders in the Spring. We study the significance of berachot (blessings) through those found in the Haggadah. Mitzvot and Tzedahah will be explored through the study of the laws of Pesach observance, and the traditions such as Ma'ot Hittim, providing charity so that the poor may observe the holiday. The Hebrew of the Haggadah and the biblical text are used to strengthen our Hebrew reading skills and to learn the key value concepts in both texts. Parallels to modern Hebrew are explored, and the curriculum includes a conversational Hebrew module.

Vav students also explore the weekly Torah portion for content and pertinent questions and teachings for our won lives. The students begin with the book of Leviticus in order to cover ground that they were unlikely to work on in earlier grades. This study also opens up the subject matter in Torah that goes beyond the patriarchs and matriarchs, including the basis for Jewish law and customs and the various experiences of the Hebrews while they spent years in the desert. Students explore the Parshiyot through drama, debate and art projects. Our hope is that the students will make an early encounter with their Bar and Bat Mitzvah portions during their study of the weekly Parsha.

The last aspect of the Kitah Vav curriculum is a taste of history of the Jews of Spain. In this curriculum the students explore the rich culture and heritage of the Jews of medieval Spain and their significant contributions to Jewish philosophy and Torah study. A look at this period of history introduces the students to a taste of both the perils and pleasures of Jews in the Diaspora.

In the Spring, our Vav students and their families participate in a two-part Family Education series to explore issues related to their upcoming Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.

Kitah Zayin (Grade 7)

In the seventh grade our students come together as a group to learn and experience the Bar and Bat Mitzvah year as a cohesive group.

The students of the seventh grade focus in on a varied and interesting curriculum over the course of the school year. From September through January the students study the Book of Writings (Sefer Ketuvim) as their Bible curriculum. The Book of Writings has many interesting books such as the books of Ruth and Esther, Job, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs and Psalms.

In addition, for the first half of the year the students study about the concept of Tikun Olam, repairing the world. We hope that the year of Bar and Bat Mitzvah will become and opportunity for our students to be activists and contributors to our world. Each of the students is asked to participate in a Tikun Olam project as part of the B'nai Mitavah experience. Our curriculum goal in Tikun Olam hopes to further this goal.

For the second half of the year the 7th graders attempt to define what a Jewish hero is how Jewish heroes embody different mitzvoth.

The Wednesday seventh grade curriculum includes a full year study of the Jewish Life Cycle. This curriculum, which begins with the ritual of Bar Mitzvah, proceeds through marriage, death and birth. The highlight of the year is the mock Jewish wedding that takes place as a culminating event.

The last aspect of the seventh grade curriculum is the prayer curriculum. Students study the morning service called the Birkhot HaShachar, which contains numerous interesting and different prayers. Students continue to practice their Hebrew reading skills as they encounter the Birkhot HaShachar.

Students have the opportunity to become leaders in the school when they help our madrichim organize and develop themes for the school's final program, the Macabiya games.


Mon, November 29 2021 25 Kislev 5782