After a year-long process of evaluation, discussion and exploring options, we have implemented Mitkadem (Hebrew) and CHAI (Judaica) cirriculum at Temple Israel. Mitkadem is both a total group and individual development approach to Hebrew skills. CHAI is URJ produced, concept-based cirriculum through which 1st through 7th grade explore Torah, Avodah (connections to God) and G’milut Chasadim (Acts of Kindness) through pre-written lessons that delve into seven concepts, one overall concept per year.
Our PreK students meet, on average, every other Sunday during regular Religious School time. They explore Bible Stories and Jewish Holidays through hands on, creative learning experiences.
Our Kindergarten students engage in learning through stories and fun hands on activities. Torah, Shabbat and Jewish celebrations are central themes in the curriculum. Music and movement are taught in connection with the Hebrew and holiday lessons. A snack will be served at each session. Students are introduced to the Hebrew letters and learn the Shabbat blessings over candles, bread and wine/grape juice. In addition, they explore all the wonder of the Jewish holidays through activities, food, and rituals.
Our First Grade students begin their Torah study by delving into the stories of the Book of Genesis. As they learn about the characters from the beginning of the Torah, they begin to develop their own Jewish identity and how they fit into the stories of our shared past. Students will become familiar with the people and events of the Bible and Jewish holidays through various stories, including Adam and Eve, the Tower of Babel, Abraham and Sarah, Baby Moses, David and Goliath, and Jonah and the whale. Music will also be used to enhance the curriculum. Students continue to work explore the Alef Bet.
Our second graders begin to look at the deeper meanings in the weekly Torah portion. In addition, they explore the traditions, meaning and importance of Shabbat. Students will be guided through their Hebrew lessons using Mitkadem, the URJ’s Hebrew program. Mastery of the Hebrew letters and vowels and the sounds they make is expected at the end of this year. Additional focus will be put on the Shabbat blessings and on Mah Nishtanah, the Four Questions of Passover.
In third grade, special emphasis is placed on building Derech Eretz (courtesy) and friendship between students. Mastery of Hebrew letters and vowels, and fluency in reading are expected by the end of the year. Our third graders explore their relationship with God and look for God in the wonder of the world around them. Weekly Chapel Time includes a brief T’fillah (service) with songs and discussion.
Students continue to build their knowledge and experience in Hebrew, Jewish ethics and Torah. Students will continue the journey through Hebrew prayers and vocabulary. Students are encouraged to develop a passion for Israel through the “Welcome to Israel” series. The focus of this year is opening a relationship with the State of Israel and the people of Israel. Students focus on their place in the greater community of Am Yisrael. Weekly Chapel Time with the clergy continues on Wednesday afternoons. Fourth graders will also apply their Hebrew skills and prayer vocabulary using the Mitkadem curriculum. Prayers covered this year include the Barchu, Yotzer Or, Ma’ariv Aravim, Torah Blessings and Kiddush.
Students share adventures in Jewish history and Hebrew. Students create their own timelines of their lives, and then explore the timeline of our Jewish life. Through text study and stories, our fifth graders continue to develop the sense of Jewish identity and how they fit into the narrative of our collective Jewish journey. In Hebrew, prayers covered include the Sh’ma, V’ahavata, Avot, and G’vurot. Additionally, students will be introduced to the concepts of Jewish survival, Zionism and the Diaspora.
Each Sunday students go through an exploration of the weekly Torah portion. Weekly Chapel Time continues. Students will be guided through the weekly Torah service, and learn about the Torah and Haftarah trope sessions (Torah and Haftarah cantilation). In addition, they will master the Nissim B’chol Yom, and the additional prayers from our Friday evening and Saturday morning service.
Seventh grade continues to explore concepts and principles of Jewish life and of being members of our community. As students prepare to B’nai Mitzvah, they continue their exploration through CHAI of Torah, Avodah and G’milet Chasadem.
Eighth graders engage in learning about Israel and further developing their relationship with Israel: culture, langugae and geography. Students also explore the Holocaust through grade appropriate experiences to gain insight through their own eyes.