The Religious School curriculum is built around Big Jewish Ideas. These are the enduring understandings that we feel are critical for our students to take with them throughout their Jewish lives. Our students will, of course, master some facts, blessings, and customs, but our primary goal is for them to truly understand and embrace what it means to live as a Jew and these big ideas are the basis of that understanding.
Shabbat Shelanu is an alternative to weekly Religious School for our families with children in grades K–2. The program meets twice per month on Saturday mornings from 9:00 - 11:15 am. The day begins in our chapel with a festive, interactive family service. After a nosh, parents and children learn similar topics at their own levels in parallel learning tracks. Parents study with our clergy and kids engage in in informal learning activities that reach a wide range of learning styles. One of our Shabbat Shelanu parents said, “we do the Shabbat Shelanu program and we love it…it’s definitely great family time. When else could I take out time to really think about Jewish things, family things, life, the Torah? It’s so special.”
Big Jewish Idea: My Jewish self is shaped by a developing understanding and belief in Jewish principles, the performance of Jewish rituals, and the celebration of Jewish holidays.
Our kindergarten students will explore holidays, the story of Creation and focus on the celebration of Shabbat. They will learn about several commandments, such as tzedakah, honoring parents, and hanging a mezuzah. They will begin to learn about the State of Israel as a Jewish homeland and learn some basic Hebrew such as greetings and the parts of the body. Their prayer focus will be on the Sh’ma and the Shabbat blessings.
Big Jewish idea: Judaism is a vital part of who I am, because it provides me with a framework to connect with other Jews as a kehilah, community, and make the world a better place through mitzvot, commandments.
First graders will learn that being Jewish “counts.” They will “count” Joseph and his brothers and learn the stories of Kings David and Solomon. They will learn to count in Hebrew and explore places in Israel. Their prayer focus will be on the Shehecheyanu and holiday blessings.
Big Jewish Idea: Judaism teaches that all people are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God. Like God, each human life has infinite value and we must be mindful of this in all of our interactions.
Second graders will approach all their learning through the lens of appreciating the holy in every human being. Highlighted Torah stories will include Creation, Cain and Abel, and the Tower of Babel. In Hebrew they will learn the vocabulary for members of the family and body parts. Their prayer focus will be on the Bar’chu and Havdalah blessings.
Big Jewish Idea: Performing mitzvot, commandments, makes us Jewish. It is up to us to learn them and to practice them in ways that make them meaningful.
With their focus on doing what God commands us, third graders will learn about mitzvot associated with holidays and kibud z’keinim, honoring the elderly. Torah stories will include the stories of our matriarchs and patriarchs, the life cycle covered will be bar/bat mitzvah, and the prayer focus will be on Shabbat blessings. Third graders begin their study of the Hebrew language, learning to decode the Hebrew consonants and vowels and identifying key words.
Big Jewish Idea: The imperative to pursue tzedek, righteousness, continues to guide the Jewish people throughout time.
Fourth graders will focus on Torah stories involving Noah and Moses who will be evaluated as examples of tzadikim,righteous people. Life cycle covered will be death and mourning, and fourth graders will explore how the State of Israel is a force for justice in the world. The mitzvah of feeding the hungry will be highlighted. Hebrew studies continue as students improve their reading skills and focus on a variety of blessings and prayers.
Big Jewish Idea: We are all part of the Jewish community; by actively participating and contributing, we can make it a kehilah kedoshah, a holy community.
Fifth graders will approach their learning through the lens of our Jewish community and how they can be an important member. The theme of community will also be evident as fifth graders explore the biblical prophets and mitzvot such as guarding their speech and taking care of the earth. Their studies of Israel will highlight the diversity of the Jewish communities in Israel and the life-cycle events covered will be marriage and weddings. Hebrew studies continue as students improve their reading skills and focus on the prayers of the Sh’ma and its blessings and the Amidah section of the service.
Big Jewish Idea: The acts of shamor v’zachor, observing and remembering, connect us with the Jewish collective memory and urge us to continue living meaningful Jewish lives.
As sixth graders learn the importance of Jewish memory, they will study Jewish history in modern times, from anti-Semitism and emancipation in Europe, to the Holocaust and the founding of the State of Israel. The life cycle event covered will be birth and naming, and the highlighted mitzvah will be Talmud Torah, Jewish learning. The power of Jewish memory and its effect on how we live vibrant Jewish lives today will be the focus. Hebrew studies continue as students improve their reading skills and focus on the blessings of the Torah service.
All students begin together with a pizza dinner. Then each grade goes to their own sessions, which include both core classes and electives.
Big Jewish Idea: American Judaism is a religion, culture, people, and belief system that allows room for a wide range of people and beliefs. Understanding the diversity of American Jews will help us better understand ourselves as Reform Jews.
Big Jewish Idea: The term “Jew by choice” is most often used to describe those who convert to Judaism. However, we can all be considered “Jews by choice” as we grow older and make individual choices about how we believe and observe.
Big Jewish Idea: Classic Jewish texts and teachings provide a wealth of wisdom that we can use to make good choices in our lives today.
Taught by Rabbi Rubinstein, the confirmation class is a very special experience. Confirmation is a beautiful and inspiring ceremony when young men and women affirm their connection to God and the Jewish community. The goals of our confirmation class include encouraging students to engage in the search for religious meaning, struggle with the “unanswerable” questions, reflect and assess their essential Jewish beliefs, and strengthen their connection to Judaism and Jewish life.
The opportunities for Jewish engagement and learning never end. Even after Confirmation, our teens are encouraged to continue their studies in an informal and engaging environment.