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Overview

Although children may start in our school at any age, we offer an introduction to Jewish life to children as young as preschool, based on the idea that Judaism is an identity and a way of life that infuses and enlivens play, music, and other creative activities we do together. 

From our pre-K "Sprouts" program through the 7th grade, children are introduced in age-appropriate ways to six interrelated topics that are the basis of our curriculum, explained below. In addition, each grade level focuses on one or two core themes: 

  • Sprouts and kindergarten: “A taste of everything,” including activities related to all six curricular fields
  • 1st:  Shabbat
  • 2nd:  Torah stories and Israel
  • 3rd:  Being God’s partners
  • 4th:  Lifecycle events
  • 5th:  Exploring our roots
  • 6th:  Israel and Becoming a Mensch (“a person of integrity and honor”)
  • 7th:  World Jewry and the Holocaust

Although children are introduced to Hebrew letters and basic words in pre-K through 2nd grade, formal Hebrew study begins in the 3rd grade. The goal for our Hebrew study is to read, understand, and recite the major prayers of Shabbat in preparation to lead the congregation as a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah

Our post-b'nai mitzvah programs include a two-year Kesher cycle, culminating in Confirmation; and Bogrim for 11th and 12th graders.

 

Topics

 


 

We instill in students an appreciation of the Torah as a sacred object and pass on a knowledge and understanding of its stories and lessons. We talk about the Torah in relation to the five other core elements of the curriculum: its story of the formation of the Jewish people; its commandments (mitzvot) and values (middot); the meaning and traditions associated with Jewish holidays; its origination in the land of Israel; and its language, Hebrew.



Students learn about mitzvot (commandments) and middot (virtues) by doing. We incorporate opportunities to carry out mitzvot and teach students about three essential types: Sh’bein Adam L’chavero (between a person and their fellow human beings);Sh’bein Adam La-makom (between a person and God; and environment; and animals); and Sh’bein Adam L’atzmo (between a person and themselves), including mitzvot and middot related to our holidays, Jewish community, and homeland in Israel. Students become familiar with Hebrew words and phrases related to mitzvot and middot.



To the extent possible, we learn about the holidays by celebrating them together as a school. Before our celebrations, we study the origin and customs of each holiday, we and carry out those customs as a school community. We become familiar with the Hebrew words and phrases related to the holiday and, when relevant, we learn about the similarities and differences in the celebration of the holiday in other countries and communities.



We instill an understanding and appreciation of the underlying unity that makes each individual Jew a part of the Jewish people, or Klal Yisrael. We discuss the historical sequence and related events as experienced by our people during ancient times, as told in the Torah, and in modern times in Israel and the global Diaspora.  



We instill in students an understanding and appreciation of the land of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. We learn about the historical events leading to the creation of the modern Jewish State; its government, its topography, and how Jewish peoplehood is manifested there; the similarities and differences between living in Israel and in the Diaspora; our connection and responsibilities to our homeland (mitzvot and middot); Israel as the historical and spiritual origin of Jewish holidays; and the birthplace of the ancient Hebrew language and its modern revival.



We learn the fundamental aspects of the written language (letters and vowels, words, phrases, and sentences); and become proficient in reading, singing, and chanting prayers. We learn the meanings of key words and content of prayers and develop some basic understanding of Modern Hebrew vocabulary and sentences.

 


After the b'nei mitzvah

Although not every student has become a bar or bat mitzvah by the end of the 7th grade, in curricular terms, 7th grade marks the end of the pre-b'nei mitzvah education at Temple Sinai. For students in 8th through 12th grades, we offer the chance to continue to grow as Jews through our Kesher, Confirmation, and Bogrim programs. 

Kesher 

Kesher is a two-year program for students in grades 8 and 9

Year 1
Students connect Judaism to the issues relevant in their own lives; explore how they are connected to the historical road map of Judaism; and consider what it means to make decisions in accord with Jewish values, tradition, culture, and practices. 

Year 2
Students deepen their understanding of Judaism through a comparative look at other religions. Our study includes class visits to local Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian (Catholic and Protestant), and Islamic houses of worship. Next we explore comparative Judaism, focusing on the similarities and differences among the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox branches. Finally, we delve into Jewish Ethical Values and Mitzvot.

Confirmation

During their Confirmation year, our 10th graders study as a class with Rabbi Till, culminating in the Confirmation service and ceremony held on the eve of Shavuot, the holiday celebrating the time of the giving of the Torah. 

In this discussion-based program, students engage with a set of "hot topics," encouraging them to continue to ask questions and look at their daily lives through a Jewish lens; live out the value of tikkun olam by carrying out a social action project; and take a class trip to New York City, visiting Ellis Island and other major sites of Jewish history and culture. 

Bogrim

If Confirmation marks the end of the formal education of Jewish youth at Temple Sinai, Bogrim offers our 11th and 12th graders the opportunity to continue "informally." For our youth who have come from multiple school districts and grown together as a community over several years, Bogrim offers the chance to continue those relationships. Taking place once per month, Bogrim sessions are discussions—of public issues, daily private lives, and the ways that Jewish identity and Jewish values intersect with both.  

Sun, September 26 2021 20 Tishrei 5782