On Sunday, students learn about the Jewish Holidays, Torah, Israel, and Gimilut Chasadim (Acts of Loving Kindness). Each day has a theme which is explored by the entire school. Each grade takes on a different aspect of the theme, enabling siblings and family members to learn from one another. See below for the curricular themes for each session this year.
In addition to exploring curricular topics, teachers place a strong emphasis on community-building throughout the year. Team building exercises, name games, and positive classroom management techniques are used, so that students get to know one another, and feel connected in positive ways to their teachers and other students.
Kindergarten. The Kindergarten program uses a curriculum called Me and You, Jew and Jew, created by the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland. The curriculum may be accessed here, and there is also a copy located in Rabbi Epstein’s office if you would like to take a look. The curriculum focuses on the Jewish Holidays, Torah, Israel, and Gimilut Chasadim through the lens of the seminal Jewish teaching “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). The interactive curriculum features books, art activities, and music as it familiarizes students with the most important aspects of Jewish life.
Jewish Holidays, Grades 1-5. Jewish holidays are taught in a fun and engaging way. While teachers review the basics of each holiday each year, each grade focuses on a different aspect of the holiday.
- First Grade: Holiday Symbols
- Second Grade: The Story of the Holiday
- Third Grade: How we Celebrate the Holiday
- Fourth Grade: Holiday Cooking
- Fifth Grade: Holidays in our Sacred Texts
- Sixth Grade: Holidays and Social Action
Torah, Israel, and Gimilut Chasadim (Acts of Loving Kindness), Grades 1-6. The subjects of Torah, Israel, and Gimilut Chasadim are taught using the Union for Reform Judaism’s Chai curriculum as a basis. Each of the three subjects are explored in thematic units spread throughout the year. The Torah and Gimilut Chasadim units are chosen from the main Chai curriculum, an overview of which can be found here. The Israel unit is taken from the Israel supplement to the Chai curriculum, an overview of which can be found here.
Hebrew Through Movement, Grades K-2. Students in Grades K-2 participate in our Hebrew Through Movement program, a curriculum of the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland. Each Sunday, a specialist who is a native Hebrew speaker visits the classroom and teaches the children basic verbs and nouns in Hebrew by asking them to respond to commands in Hebrew. The verbs include basic movement verbs such as sit, stand, walk, stop, jump, and take. The nouns include holiday and Jewish-themed objects such as menorah, candle, matza, and cup. Over time, students can understand and respond to complicated sentences in Hebrew such as “Walk to the table, pick up the menorah, and place it on the table.” Eventually, sight words are introduced. The auditory, kinesthetic, and eventually visual exposure to the language enable the students to gain a strong sense of the language before beginning the actual reading of the language, which is taught in 5th grade individually or in pairs. The system mimics natural language acquisition, in which babies first hear, then speak, then read, then write their native languages. Our specialists undergo 10 hours of training in the program, in addition to being native speakers. Hebrew Through Movement is fun, and becomes something the children look forward to immensely. More information can be found at the program’s official website, www.hebrewthroughmovement.org.
Let’s Learn Hebrew Side-by-Side (for 5th graders enrolled in our Midrasha (Wednesday) program. For 5th graders enrolled in our Midrasha program, we offer an exciting, innovative, and effective approach for learning to read the Hebrew letters and vowels (decoding). Developed by the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland, Let’s Learn Hebrew Side-by-Side pairs volunteer mentors with individuals or pairs of students to learn decoding through a series of interactive PowerPoint lessons followed by hands-on reinforcement activities. Mentors are retirees, empty-nesters, older teens, and parents of other students who are excited to build positive relationships with students as they learn to decode. As opposed to the often stressful, boring, and ineffective experience of learning to decode in a group setting in third grade, decoding with a mentor as a more mature fifth grader is usually enjoyable and quite effective, especially after exposure to Hebrew Through Movement. Let’s Learn Hebrew Side-by-Side takes place on Sundays following religious school, from 11:15-12:15 PM, from November through April according to the Sunday School calendar. For more information on the program, please contact Sarah Jew, Education Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the program’s official website www.letslearnhebrew.org.