Judaic Studies Curriculum
Our Judaic Studies curriculum covers major content areas of Jewish holidays, Torah, Jewish history, Tikkun Olam (social justice), and Israel. Students engage with materials and concepts at a developmentally appropriate level, with a focus on engaging and relevant experiences.
Using engaging story-telling methods, children explore the rhythm of the Jewish year and have the unique opportunity to delve into the stories of our tradition, placing themselves in the action and making a personal connection to the characters and events that are at the foundation of Judaism. Holidays, mitzvot, and customs are also explored through experiential learning.
Using a mnemonic system designed to help students connect Hebrew letters and vowels to sounds through stories, students learn to decode Hebrew words. In addition to their focus on Hebrew reading mastery, students also interact with Torah stories, explore the traditions of Jewish holidays, and celebrate them as a class community.
Through Project-Based Learning (PBL), our students engage with a variety of materials and resources as they investigate big questions. A PBL project is called “An Expedition.” Expeditions strive to connect our students to our rich tradition, grounding them in sacred texts and helping them to consider modern-day implications. Each expedition is designed around a guiding question and has clear learning targets. It builds on the passion of our students and teachers as well as providing an opportunity to bring in experts from the field and/or allowing for outside field work.
As we strive toward excellence, our students learn how to give and receive feedback and incorporate this feedback into their final product. Students share their work publicly, becoming “experts” as they teach others.
Finally, the Project Based Learning model allows for reflection. The American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer John Dewey contends that “we do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” We take this to heart and incorporate reflection into everything we do.
The following topics are studied through PBL on a rotating schedule: Torah, Israel, Jewish Ethics, Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World), Jewish History and Jewish Time.
Our 6th graders learn to navigate the Chumash (Torah in book form), understand the difference between Torah and TaNaCH (the full Jewish bible, which includes the Torah, the Prophets, and Writings, such as the Psalms, Proverbs, and the Book of Ruth), and connect with their personal relationship to God as understood by the Jewish tradition and their personal interpretations. Students also explore the story of Jewish life in America through their own family’s story and other resources.
Students in 7th grade focus on two main area of study: Jewish Life Cycle and Mitzvot. As students prepare to celebrate B’nai Mitzvah, they explore what it means to be Jewish through examining the various rites of passage in the Jewish life cycle. In addition, through a curriculum based on B’nai TELEM, students explore a variety of social justice issues of concern in our communities and how Jewish values and wisdom address these important topics. Throughout the year, students participate in field trips and welcome visitors who share wisdom relating to the topics studied.
Students gather for a dynamic morning (shacharit) prayer experience or a festive Shirah (music) session with David Rothberg, our Cantorial Soloist. Each of these offers opportunities to practice Hebrew prayers, as well as delve deeper into personal and meaningful prayer and familiarity with Jewish music.
Generosity is one of the hallmarks of Jewish life. Tzedakah, G’milut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness), and Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) are core Jewish values. Though often described as charity, tzedakah literally means “righteousness” or “justice.” A tzedakah box is provided in the sanctuary every Sunday during SULAM and on Wednesdays during Gesher, as well. Periodically, we announce the organization that will benefit from the collections. We hope that you will help us to benefit a variety of worthy causes by sending Tzedakah in with your child. Even a few coins add up and go a long way! Thank you in advance.