Overview of Hebrew School Curriculum
- Hebrew – Our youngest students begin to learn the names and sounds of the Hebrew letters with “Let’s Discover Alef Bet” from Behrman House. This reading readiness program is followed by JEP’s “Let’s Read Hebrew Primer” in which the students are introduced to vowel-letter combinations and develop simple decoding skills. Once students have completed the Primer, our Aleph Belts program provides 6 levels of ongoing practice to develop reading fluency and accuracy. Students begin learning to write Hebrew script in 5th grade and improve this skill each year.
- Prayer – Each class session begins with morning prayers, followed by giving tzedakah. In the younger grades, prayer time is filled with lively and meaningful songs and simple short prayers. The students are introduced to the Siddur (Hebrew prayerbook) in 4th grade and in each successive year, familiarity with different prayers and the ability to read prayers fluently from the Siddur are stressed. The meanings and significance of the main prayers are studied and an appreciation of prayer is developed.
- Torah (Bible) & Jewish History – The students are introduced to the primary personalities and events occurring in the five books of the Torah. Teachers create a “text” consisting of key names, places, and happenings to serve as summaries of each chapter. While the younger grades are primarily given an overview of the stories in Genesis and Exodus, grades 4 -7 focus on one book of the Torah each year, with a major review in 7th grade. In addition to learning Jewish history, students study the mitzvot and ethics set forth in the Torah.
- Holidays and Shabbat – As each holiday approaches, students closely examine the history of the holiday, as well as the customs and traditions that accompany it. As students move from grade to grade, the material is presented in a more mature manner, giving students fresh perspectives and deeper understandings of the holidays each year. We also host holiday celebrations for students & their families. The weekly celebration of Shabbat – how and why – is taught on several levels and students in older grades are invited for supervised Shabbatonim with their teachers.
- Mitzvot & Ethics – Each grade covers different aspects of Jewish family life, values and ethics.
- Musical Activities, Crafts, Games and Incentives – All these activities are incorporated into our curriculum to reinforce the material being taught and add excitement to the learning.
- Extra-Curricular – We offer a variety of extra-curricular activities through the JEP Youth Club and monthly mitzvah projects.
- Hebrew School Culmination – Hebrew School culminates in a final graduation exam in seventh grade. Knowing by heart information such as the Ten Commandments, Seven Noahide laws, basic laws of Kashrut, Kriat Shema, and Brachot are just a few examples of material on the exam.
Additional details about our curriculum divided by grades:
Students create their very own books: My Mitzvot from Aleph to Tav
Throughout the year, students will learn about Jewish customs in daily living and Shabbat, as well as Jewish symbols and articles in the home and synagogue. Students will enjoy the stories of Creation, Noach, the Patriachs and Matriachs of the Jewish nation and gain relevant moral lessons for their personal behavior.
The land of Israel – its geography, its people, and religious significance – will be studied. Famous places will be highlighted.
Values and mitzvot to be covered include: mezuzah, visiting the sick, hospitality, making peace, honesty, charity, returning lost objects, loving fellow Jews, loving Israel, protecting the environment and caring for animals.
The teacher will explain the significance of the celebration of Bar/Bat Mitzvah and show the students how they can prepare and aspire towards the goal of being a “person of mitzvot,” as they are beginning to look forward to their personal celebrations. Mitzvot to be highlighted include: the Ten Commandments with attention to relationships between man and his fellow man, honoring parents, and Shabbat. A JEP booklet, Inside the Beit Knesset, gives the students a thorough understanding of the synagogue, what’s inside and what happens there. A comprehensive unit on gratitude and blessings is also covered in Keetah Dalet.
Fifth grade brings into focus a tremendous number of mitzvot which are included in the third book of the Torah: Love your neighbor as yourself, kashrut, proper speech and not gossiping, not bearing a grudge or taking revenge, charity, laws of lending and borrowing, respect for elders, happiness and satisfaction, judging others favorably, laws pertaining specifically to the land of Israel and laws pertaining to the times when Israel has a holy Temple.
The performance of good deeds and character refinement are instilled through lessons using Rabbi Yisrael Salant’s list of thirteen character traits: truth, alacrity, diligence, respect, tranquility, gentleness, cleanliness, patience, order, humility, righteousness, thrift, and silence.
The Jewish Life Cycle is a major topic of study. From the joyous occasion of the birth of a baby, to Bar/Bart Mitzvah, weddings, and the sad time of a death in the family, our Jewish heritage guides us in celebrating and commemorating each milestone. Students will learn why and how we mark life cycle events in ceremonies, celebrations, prayers, and customs. Included in the study of the Jewish Life Cycle will be a unit on the Jewish family – in the home and as part of the greater community of the Jewish people.
Seventh grade students receive JEP’s Graduation Exam Review Booklet at the beginning of the year. This booklet is broadly covers the basics of our entire Hebrew School curriculum. The teacher works with the students throughout the year to review this booklet and prepare them for the graduation exam.
Special topics for seventh grade include: Maimonides Thirteen Principles of Faith; the concept of the “Chosen People”; a Jew’s relationships and obligations to community; character development; the Jewish calendar; and a brief overview of Jewish history with special focus on the Holocaust with intention to give the students a glimpse of our glorious and sometimes difficult past and an appreciation of the immortality of the Jewish people.
Seventh grade meets on Sunday mornings 9:30 am – 12:30 pm as well as Wednesday evenings, 6:15 pm – 7:30 pm