Midrasha (Wednesday) Program – Grades 3-6

The Midrasha program enables students to expand their sense of connection with their peers, teachers, and rabbis, while providing an opportunity to deepen their engagement with the Hebrew language, gain important Jewish skills, and make choices in their own Jewish learning journeys.  Students wishing to celebrate their B’nai Mitzvah ceremony are required to attend the Wednesday program.  Families who may wish to explore alternatives to attending the Wednesday program, please make an appointment with Carly Cera, Director of Youth Education and Engagement.

Tefila (prayer), Grades 3-6.  Our Midrasha students gather each session as a community to pray and sing together.  Prayer is led by Rabbi Rebecca Epstein, Director of Education, and Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist, who work closely to expose students to inspiring music, stories, and discussion, as they practice the skills of prayer including correct pronunciation, choreography, and spiritual focus.  Midrasha prayer, like our Sunday prayer, is moving, relaxing, joyful, and transformative.  On Wednesdays, because the students are older, and the environment is more intimate, they are able to grapple with the meaning of prayer in quite deep and extraordinary ways.  We are proud that we introduced new prayer books this year, Mishkan Tefila for Youth.  Students love the colorful, yet classic artwork, spiritual teachings, and poetry geared towards their grade level.

Hebrew Through Movement, Grades 3 and 4. Hebrew Through Movement is offered during Midrasha for Third and Fourth grades.  Students in Kindergarten through second grade in CBI’s Sunday religious school program also take Hebrew Through Movement, so the Midrasha program offers a way to continue this important way of acquiring Hebrew language in advance of learning to read Hebrew.  For more details, or visit the program’s official website, www.hebrewthroughmovement.org.

Third Grade

During the first semester, third graders experience Shabbat Dinner every week.  With a white tablecloth, homemade challah, grape juice, and candles, students learn the traditions of Shabbat dinner by actually practicing the blessings and rituals. Students take turns taking home a Shabbat backpack, which contains a card with the blessings and a special Shabbat book to keep, along with a journal to record their experiences to share with the class.

The second semester focuses on the Passover Seder.  Student practice and learn about the various aspects of the Passover Seder, and then lead the Midrasha program in a full Passover Seder at the end of the semester.

Fourth Grade

The first semester of fourth grade focuses on Texas Jewish History.  Using a ‘history trunk’ filled with exciting primary objects, students learn about immigration, and the Texas Jewish story.  The semester includes a field trip to the historic B’nai Abraham synagogue located on the Dell Jewish Community Campus.  This program is offered in partnership with the Institute for Southern Jewish Life, which provides the history trunk and associated curriculum.

During the second semester, students study the Jewish Lifecycle.  The rituals of birth, Consecration, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation, wedding, and funeral are explored in a fun and interactive way.

Fifth Grade

Fifth grade focuses on tefila (prayer). Students choose from one of three electives in which they explore the meaning of various prayers.  This year’s electives are: the Stories of Prayer, the Music of Prayer, and Creating Visual Representations of Prayer.  At the end of each semester, fifth graders lead the Midrash program in a prayer service.

Fifth graders also review Hebrew reading as per the Let’s Learn Hebrew Side-by-Side program, which they attend on Sundays (see below).

Let’s Learn Hebrew Side-by-Side (for 5th graders enrolled in our Midrasha program).
For 5th graders enrolled in our Wednesday 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 AM, for the Sundays from November through April, according to the religious school calendar.  For more information on the program, please contact Sarah Jew, Education Coordinator, at sjew@bethisrael.org, or visit the program’s official website, www.letslearnhebrew.org.

Sixth Grade

Sixth Grade focuses on Hebrew reading.  For the first part of the day, students choose an elective which enables them to explore a topic while practicing Hebrew reading.  Student choose a different elective each semester.  This year’s electives are: Israeli Pop Culture, All About the Torah Service, Torah Cantillation, and Modern Hebrew.  During the second part of the day, students review Hebrew reading in leveled groups, enabling them to focus on specific skills needed to refine their Hebrew reading fluency. Review time includes games, songs, and reading familiar English books translated into Hebrew, such as Frog and Toad.