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Beth Israel Congregation

   
 
 
 

Hebrew School Curriculum



Lower School Curriculum

The Beth Israel Lower School curriculum is designed for students in grades K-2. It introduces children to the basic elements of Jewish religion, its traditions, and its practices. A major objective of the Lower School curriculum is to help children feel pride in their heritage and excitement about being Jewish. A second goal is to introduce them to the knowledge areas that will define their religious education as they prepare for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

There are two core knowledge areas in the religious school at grades K-2:

Hebrew Language and Prayer
Students will learn to write their Hebrew names, to identify the Hebrew letters and to read with vowels, to count in Hebrew, to master a rudimentary site vocabulary, to read simple Hebrew texts, and to recite or read basic Jewish prayers and blessings.
Jewish Identity, Customs and Values
Students will become familiar with Shabbat and holiday rituals, and they will begin their study of Torah and its teachings through stories, drama, and simple texts.

In addition, students will learn about Israel and will be involved in arts and craft activities that beautify the mitzvah and add grace to their homes and lives.

It is very important that children feel the connection between religious school and their homes. To that end, the school will provide a school/home journal for each student. This journal serves two purposes. It is an assignment book for students and it is a communications vehicle for parents and teachers. We ask that you check and sign the journal each week and that you set aside about two hours a week to go over any assignments and discuss what is being studied. You may also use the journal as a way to write to the teachers and for them to respond or write to you.

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Kindergarten

Hebrew Language and Prayer Skills

Students will begin the study of Hebrew language and prayer and will:

  • Copy their Hebrew name
  • Recognize the following words: Shalom, Havdalah, Shabbat, Shema
  • Recite the short blessings over candles, bread and wine
  • Recite the Shema from memory

Jewish Identity, Customs and Values

Students will become familiar with the Shabbat traditions and rituals and will:
  • Be able to set a Shabbat table with candles, challah, wine
  • Recognize the elements of the Havdalah ceremony
  • Hear Shabbat songs and stories
  • Make all of the Shabbat ceremonial objects
  • Participate in at least one Shabbat event with family

Students will become familiar with:

  • The concept of creation
  • The value of Tzadakah, helping to make the world a more just place, and how it relates to Shabbat
  • The value of Shalom Bayit, peace in the home, and how they can help make a peaceful home
  • The value of Hachnasat Orchim, welcoming guests, particularly as it relates to Shabbat
  • The Jewish value of Shmi'tat Ozen, listening
  • Hiddur Mitzvah (beautifying the mitzvah) and will make all of the ritual items for Shabbat
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Grade Aleph (First Grade)

Hebrew Language and Prayer Skills

Students will continue their study of language and prayer and will:

  • Identify all of the Hebrew letters
  • Count to ten in Hebrew
  • Identify major body parts in Hebrew (rosh, tafayim, bercayim, etzbaot, enenyim, peh, yad, regel)
  • Recite fluently
    • Blessings for thanks (bread, wine, fruits and vegetables)
    • Blessings for Mitzvot (Shabbat and Hanukkah candles, Lulav and Etrog [Succot], matzah, Shehechiyanu, Osey Shalom)
  • Recognize: Baruch, Shabbat, Shalom, Torah and their Hebrew names

Jewish Identity, Customs and Values

Students will begin to learn the Torah stories, particularly through the study of the holidays:

  • Creation (review)
  • Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel
  • Abraham, Sarah, Ishmael, Isaac, Rebecca
  • Jacob and Esau
  • Jacob and wives and children
  • Joseph in Egypt

Students will explore God and spirituality and ethics through learning these concepts:

  • God is one
  • God created the world
  • God brought us out of Egypt
  • The Torah tells us the story of how God created the world and the beginning of the Jewish people
  • You shall love your neighbor as yourself - V'ahavta l'reacha c'mocha
  • Shmirat ha guf (caring for the body)
  • Dibuk chaverim (enjoying friends)

Students will be able to describe the Shabbat cycle:

  • Shabbat evening
  • Shabbat
  • Havdalah

Students will begin to recognize the religious symbols of the different holidays:

  • Succot: Lulav and Etrog
  • Simchat Torah: Torah
  • Value of simcha (joy); consecration to Hebrew school
  • Hanukkah: Dreidl (and letters); Candles (counting)
  • Tu B'Shvat: blessing over fruit and vegetables
  • Purim: the characters of the story
  • Pesach: Blessings and Seder plate; know about the four questions; story of Exodus including Moses (birth, burning bush, Pharaoh)
  • Shavuot: story of the Ten Commandments

Students will demonstrate Hiddur Mitzvah (beautifying the mitzvah) and will make:

  • Mezzuzha and Chanukkiyah
  • Hebrew name bracelet
  • Passover matzah cover

Students will highlight the critical role of people land and dream of Israel through looking at a map of the Middle East (seeing the Exodus wanderings) and learning the names and places of several modern day Israeli cities and sites.

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Grade Kitah Bet (Second Grade)

Hebrew Language and Prayer Skills

Students will be able to read Hebrew words with vowels.

Students will be able to read blessings and the Shema that they learned in first grade.

Student will be able to write their names.

Students will learn to count to 100 in Hebrew and will learn the plural.

Students will be able to read fluently:

  • V'ahavta
  • V'shamru (first line)
  • L'cha Dodi (first line)
  • Nes Gadol Haya Sham
  • Four Questions
  • Mi Chamocah (1st two lines) and relation to Passover
  • Prayer for Purim Megilla

Jewish Identity, Customs and Values

Students will continue the study of Torah study and learn in more depth the universal stories at the beginning of Beresheit.

Students will learn the holidays in more depth.

  • Succot: students will learn about the Lulav and Etrog as well as about the mitzvah called hachnasat orchim
  • Simchat Torah: value of emet
  • Hanukkah: freedom (cherut) and relation to Pesach
  • Tu B'shvat blessings: review blessing over fruit and vegetables
  • Purim:
    • Mitzvot of Purim: seudah
    • Matot l'anyiym (tzadaka)
    • Megilla: students will make and show megilla to school develop a Purim drive
  • Pesach: Elements of Hagadah, particularly:
    • Four Questions
    • Ten Plagues/ mi chamocah
  • Shavuot: Ten Commandments

Students will demonstrate Hiddur Mitzvah (beautifying the mitzvah) by making Purim groggers

Students will highlight the critical role of people,land and dream of Israel through learning about Israeli children.

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Upper School Curriculum

The Beth Israel Upper School curriculum is designed for students in grades 3-6. It builds on the core knowledge of the Lower School and prepares students to complete their study toward the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. A major objective of the Upper School is instill a pride in being Jewish and in being able to participate fully in Jewish prayer, ritual, and tradition. A second goal is to develop an understanding of kiddusha, the holiness and moral reasoning that is an integral part of the Jewish tradition.

As in the Lower School, we focus on two core knowledge areas: Hebrew Language and Prayer and Jewish Identity, Customs, and Values. In grades 3-6, the following topics are covered:

Hebrew Language and Prayer:
Students will learn to identify Hebrew roots and develop a working vocabulary for reading and understanding prayers and some modern Hebrew texts, to read fluently from the required textbook, and to read and recite the major prayers and blessings, including Torah blessings.
Jewish Identity ,Customs, and Values:
Students will continue their study of holidays and will concentrate on the meaning of rituals through the fourth grade. They will add the study of kiddusha, holiness and moral reasoning, to their study of Torah and will explore relationships with family, community, and with God in this context. In addition, students will continue to be involved in beautifying the mitzvah through the arts and learn more about the state of Israel. The study of Bible and Diaspora history is introduced in grades 5 and 6 and replaces the study of holidays.

It is very important that children in the upper elementary and middle grades experience a connection between religious school and their homes. Peer pressure and the images of the larger culture are major influences on their lives. They need to know that they are part of larger community that values them as individuals and supports them in their struggles. We encourage you to engage in some form of Jewish ritual at home. For some, this can be something as simple as lighting the Shabbat candles or hanging a mazzuzah on your doorpost . For others, it may mean having a Shabbat meal or attending services or practicing Akashrut at home. There is no one way to be Jewish. We encourage you to explore your Jewishness in your own way with your children.

We also encourage communication between parents and teachers about the religious school experience. To that end, we will provide a home/school journal. This journal serves several purposes. It is an assignment book and reflective journal for students and a communications vehicle for parents and teachers. We ask that you check and sign the journal each week and that you set aside about two hour a week to go over any assignments and discuss what is being studied. You may also use the journal as a way to write to the teachers and for them to respond or write to you.

Finally, there may be some students who experience difficulty with the demands of religious school, either because they have missed the Lower School experience, have learning difficulties or feel overwhelmed by yet another set of expectations. The congregation and the school are committed to the success of all students and will make accommodations or referrals for extra support. Please bring any concerns you have to the teacher or the Cantor.

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Grade Kitah Gimmel (Third Grade)

Hebrew Language and Prayer Skills

Students will understand basic siddur words and identify roots through chapter 6 of Book One (see scope and sequence chart)

Students will be able to read fluently:

  • Shalom Alechem
  • Sim Shalom
  • Ayn Kelohaynu
  • Baruch She'Amar
  • Blessings over food
  • Blessings over the Torah

Jewish Identity, Customs and Values

Students will study Torah and Kidusha and will reflect on the concept of Truth (Emet) and what it means in relation to Torah and how is Torah a truth if it isn't a fact.

Students will explore what it means to bless and what it means to be thankful. In looking at Baruch She'Amar students will again review the connection between creation and the prayer cycle.

Students will identify the Patriarchs and Matriarchs and be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses. They will explore the moral reasoning of all characters. Through the study of the Torah text in translation, students will explore these concepts:

  • Family relationships and what we can learn from them about creating an ethical society
  • Partnership with God (Brit, covenant)
  • The importance of community
  • The Midrashic process: the way in which our tradition makes meaning out of stories by telling more stories. Students will not only learn classic midrashim, but they will also begin to write their own.

Students will take their first in-depth look at Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur as they study the creation text in the English translation. As much attention as possible will be paid to Hebrew words.

Students will do more in-depth study of Pesach.

Students will demonstrate Hiddur Mitzvah (beautifying the mitzvah) by making a Challah cover for Rosh Hashana and a Seder plate and an Elijah cup for Pesach.

Students will be introduced to important place names in Israel and the surrounding regions, especially those relating to Passover.

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Grade Kitah Dalet (Fourth Grade)

Hebrew Language and Prayer Skills

Students will understand and identify roots through chapter 12 of Book One and learn the basic Siddur words of those chapters.

Students will be able to read fluently in the book Derech Chochma, Ashmnu Vshamru.

Students will able to read fluently in Book 2.

  • Blessing over the Torah
  • Avot prayer
  • Modim anachnu
  • Brachot shel mitzvah
  • Birkat ha mazon

Jewish Identity, Customs and Values

We continue to study Torah so that students learn to use this book as a source for learning and discussion. We now turn to the book of Shemot (Exodus). There are several themes that run throughout the story:

  • Leadership
  • Civil disobedience
  • Creating a free and just community
    • Tzadakah (obligation to create justice; particular rules in Torah)
    • Menschlikeit (obligation to be a good person)
    • Mitzvah (obligation to do better than we might on our own)
  • Images of God

Students will explore Torah themes through the in-depth study of the text including:

  • The story of Moses
  • The story of the Exodus
  • Mishcan, dwelling place of God
  • The Ten Commandments

Students will focus on the holidays of Yom Kippur and Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments and will take a major role in the Shavuot service of the synagogue.

Students will learn the texts which teach of Mitzvot of personal obligation.

Students will demonstrate Hiddur Mitzvah (beautifying mitzvah) by making a Tzadakah box.

Students will learn about the formation of the people of Israel, the geography of the country and its relation to Sumaria and Judea. In addition, students will be engaged in a Tzadakah project connected to Israel.

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Grade Kitah Hey (Fifth Grade)

Hebrew Language and Prayer Skills

Students will understand vocabulary and identify roots through chapter 6 of Book Two.

Students will be able to read and understand stories in Book 3, chapters 1-3.

Students will relate the Ha lach ma anya and the Elijah Cup prayers from the Passover seder to their study of History.

Students will be able to read fluently from Derech Chochmaretzeh, Adon Olam, Aleynu, B'chat ha mazon v'ahvta.

Students will be able to read fluently Mi chamocha, Ahava Raba, Kedusha, Ha Yom.

Jewish Identity, Customs and Values

Students will continue study of Torah/Kidusha and will consider:

  • Kiddush Ha shem: personal sacrifice on behalf of the Jewish people
  • Talmud Torah: the study of Torah to add meaning to life
  • Commentary/Midrash: The finding layers of meaning in a text to make it relevant to modern day and to bring out a concept not inherently obvious in the plain meaning of the text

Students will continue Bible history and will begin to study Diaspora history. Students will identify major events in Jewish History:

  • Second Temple
  • The Babylonian Exile
  • The Crusades
  • Diaspora, Zionism and the founding of Israel, and the Holocaust.

Students will identify the three books of the Bible (Torah, Prophets and Writings) and relate them to the major events of Jewish history.

  • The Ha lach ma anya (Babylonian exile) and the Elijah Cup
  • (Diaspora) prayers from the Passover seder and the study of history.
  • Currents of Jewish history and modern day life
  • Personal family immigration history and history

Students will be able to identify Jewish figures in modern world cultures and will highlight the role that women have played in Jewish history.

Note: Here is a list of characters and events that will aid students in their study of history: Mattathias, Shimon Ben Shetach, Solomone Alexendra, Hillel, Shami, Yochanan Ben Zakai, Rachel, Akiva, Bruria, Rav Ashi, Rashi, Maimonidies, Coming to America, Rose Schniederman, Louis Brandies, Lillian Wald, Holocaust, Rabbi Leo Beck, Israel (Golda Meir and Henrietta Szold), current day Jews.

Students will demonstrate Hiddur Mitzvah (beautifying the mitzvah) by making Chanukah Menorah.

Students will highlight the critical role of the people, land, and dream of Israel.

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Grade Kitah Vav (Sixth Grade)

Hebrew Language and Prayer Skills

Students will understand vocabulary and identify roots through chapter 12 of Book Two.

Students will be able to read and understand the Hebrew stories in Book 3, lessons 4-6.

Students will be able to read fluently:

  • The Kiddush
  • The taking out of the Torah
  • The returning of the Torah
  • Mourner's Kaddish
  • Ashray Elohai (optional)

Jewish Identity, Customs and Values

Students will continue their study of Torah/Kidusha and will:

  • Describe the role that prayer (Avodah) plays for the individual, the family and the community
  • Distinguish between the role of fixed prayer (kevah) and the role of intention (kavanah)
  • Identify where the prayerbook reflects the theology and the history of the Jewish people
  • Share their own understanding of the theology of prayer
  • Identify and explain the Creation, Revelation, Redemption cycle in the service and relate it to the past, present and future
  • Define Kidusha (holiness) and give examples of Kidusha in the life of the Jewish people and in their own lives
  • Relate Kidusha to the prayer experience
  • identify actions that display:
    • Menschlikeit (character)
    • Anavah (humility)
    • Shmirat ha guf (care of the body)
  • Define Kashurut according to the Torah and explore ways in which they can apply Kashrut to their lives

Students will demonstrate Hiddur Mitzvah (beautifying the mitzvah) by making Talis/Talit and a Kiddush cup.

Students will learn about the language and customs of Israel today through the introduction of Modern Hebrew.

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