Here is an abstract of our United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism compliant elementary/middle school program, including supplementary and enrichment education.
Aleph/Bet (first/second grade)
Our youngest students begin their study of Judaism through a joyful and age-appropriate interactive exploration of the Hebrew alphabet. Using games, songs and stories, our first and second graders learn basic Hebrew reading and text skills. They also master basic parts of the liturgy (prayer) through song and discussion.
Parallel to Hebrew liturgy and language, our students explore the early Torah narrative (Beresheet/Genesis) exploring both the text and the wider values that emerge from it. Students enjoy using movement and drama as well as creative craft projects in studying the Creation, the account of Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), the Mabul (the flood), Avraham and Sarah and the other great cycles of Genesis.
Finally, our students gain content and skills relating to the Jewish holidays including the names of the major holidays and their associated Mitzvot and customs as well as symbols and rituals.
Our Aleph and Bet students work on a Havdalah (end of Shabbat) project culminating in a Havdalah family evening.
Gimel (third grade)
Now that they have gained a degree of mastery of the Hebrew alphabet and can read competently, our third graders begin to acquire Hebrew vocabulary of liturgy and gain an awareness of the value-concepts that form the core of Jewish teaching. They learn the core Shema and Amidah liturgies as well as the universal values of compassion, justice, faith and human responsibility that emerge from them.
Holiday practices and values are deepened and broadened and students begin to learn about the central role that Israel has in Jewish civilization and history. In addition, they learn about focal Jewish values and how they are exemplified in the lives of great Jews throughout history.
Our Gimel students receive their first Siddur (prayer book) and do a project choosing and presenting a favorite prayer.
Dalet/Heh (fourth/fifth grade)
Our fourth and fifth graders focus on the Shabbat (Friday night and Saturday morning) liturgy comprising Kabbalat Shabbat and Shacharit. They gain greater mastery of Hebrew fluency in reading and continue to master basic vocabulary and value-concepts. Using drama and discussion, they explore the weekly Sedra (Torah portion) and gain a more nuanced and richer understanding of the themes of the later narratives of the Torah including the Exodus, generation of the wilderness, the Revelation at Sinai and others.
Older students also begin to study Jewish life milestones learning the special rituals and practices associated with birth, childhood, raising a family and loss in Jewish tradition.
Our fourth and fifth graders take part in an adopt a grandparent program and create Jewish hero projects.
Vav/Zayin (sixth/seventh grade)
Our oldest students complete their mastery of central features of the Shabbat morning service including Musaph, the Torah service and other sections. In addition, they learn how to craft a personal exploration of the meaning of the Torah narrative as they prepare a D'var Torah (formal exposition of the Torah).
Sixth and seventh graders learn about Jewish history from the biblical period to modernity. In addition, they make a special study of both the Holocaust and the reestablishment of Israel as a modern state and learn to see themselves as the heirs of Jewish tradition with the responsibility and privilege of carrying on their heritage. Our oldest students also have the opportunity to create their own Mitzvah projects wherein they are empowered to learn to make a difference in their Jewish and general communities.
Family Shabbatot - Over the course of the year, each class enjoys a Shabbat together including a Shabbat dinner and leading an age-appropriate Shabbat service.
Junior Congregation - Students are required to attend monthly junior congregational services, reinforcing and enriching skills and content learned in Religious School.
Special Celebrations - Our Religious School year is filled with joyful and memorable celebrations including assemblies, special guests, activities, fairs and field trips.
- September/October: High Holidays Mitzvah Opportunities
- November/December: Jewish book month, Kristalnacht Commemoration, Chanukah Fair
- January/February: Tu Bishvat Tree Celebration and Seder
- March/April: Purim Fair, and Model Seder
- May: Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron, Yom Ha'atzma'ut, Lag BaOmer and Shavuot Celebrations
Middat HaChodesh - Our program features a character education program called "Middat HaChodesh"- value of the month. Using discussion, art projects, essays and readings, students internalize and exemplify Torah values. "Torah is not in heaven but here with us." (Deuteronomy 23)