Our Hebrew instruction is designed to reach three overarching goals:
- Reading mastery: We strive for our students to master the decoding of Hebrew texts as they appear in prayers, and build fluency for reciting, chanting, and ultimately leading prayer as part of a Shabbat service. We do this by building a firm foundation of decoding skills (meaning: the ability to read a word based on consonants, vowels, and syllables) followed by the practice of reading and chanting prayers.
- Context: What do the words mean? When is the prayer recited? (Evening, morning, Shabbat, weekday, holiday, etc.) What is the background of this prayer? These are explored through conversation and study of interpretations.
- Relevance: Through discussion and reflection, students develop a personal connection to the prayer to generate a more meaningful and relevant experience when chanting it.
Formal Hebrew instruction begins at Temple Chayai Shalom in 2nd grade. Students learn the letters and vowels of the Hebrew alphabet and gain essential decoding skills to build fluency in reading. We use a mnemonic system that uses not only words, but also body motions, to aid in remembering letter and vowel sounds.
From grade 3 on, Hebrew is learned as a prayer-based, two-year revolving curriculum so that students can be grouped across grade levels (grade 3 & 4 students and grade 5 & 6 students). Grades 3-6 meet for an hour during the week with a small group of peers to study and improve their reading and decoding skills as well as learn to chant the prayers. We call these small groups “madorim” (Hebrew for sections, ‘mador’ is the singular form of this word). These madorim are scheduled on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoons at a time slot that is selected by the parents. This maximizes convenience for the families, and allows each family to work within their schedule. One of the benefits of the madorim model is that students in a small group are better able to move at the pace that makes sense for them – and not on a predetermined schedule.
Prayers Texts and Audio
We have provided recordings of the prayers we teach in madorim to help our students learn at home. We recommend that students practice with these recordings to make sure that they remember the melody correctly. Just click on the play button to hear the prayer. To see the text of each prayer in Hebrew or transliteration click on the appropriate link: