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Religious School Curriculum Overview

Religious School

Sesame Shul

Geared for our students about to transition into kindergarten, Sesame Shul meets monthly and introduces Jewish values, holidays, and traditions in a developmentally appropriate way through stories, crafts, and participation in school-wide religious school programs. Students will begin to become comfortable in the sanctuary during tefillah(services) and have meaningful Jewish learning experiences through music, yoga, cooking, and gardening.  Families will have opportunities to learn with their child and bring Judaism home to reinforce concepts taught in the classroom.     

Kindergarten

The main focus of our kindergarten curriculum is Jewish values.  Children’s literature is an important vehicle for transmitting thoughts and values, challenging ideas, and offering insights into human nature and perspectives. While Jewish-themed books can help teach Judaic values and tradition, history and holidays, quality secular books are another outstanding resource to generate an understanding of Judaic thought and heritage and transmit core Judaic values and ideals.  In addition, students will begin a formal introduction to the Jewish holidays, exploring whatwe do on each respective holiday.  

Students will further their comfort in the sanctuary during tefillah(services) and have meaningful Jewish learning experiences through music, yoga, cooking, and gardening.

First Grade

The core theme of our first grade curriculum is Discovering Myself in the Jewish Story.  First graders will study the stories of the book of Genesis, which include stories about our origins and creation, as well as our patriarchs and matriarchs.   Students will identify how they connect with the people in the book of Genesis and their role in the ongoing story of Torah and the Jewish people.  Jewish values are lifted up through the lens of these stories, followed by an exploration of how those values can be practiced today. 

In addition, students will continue to learn about the Jewish holidays, exploring why we celebrate each respective holiday.  

Students will further their comfort in the sanctuary during tefillah(services) and have meaningful Jewish learning experiences through music, yoga, cooking, and gardening.

Second Grade

The core theme of our second grade curriculum is Discovering Myself as Part of the Jewish People. Second graders will study the stories of the book of Exodus, which include stories about our ancestor’s time as slaves in Egypt, miracles and our ancestor’s redemption from Egypt, and the giving of the 10 commandments.  Students will identify how these stories can guide our understanding of what it means to be part of a sacred community.  Jewish values are lifted up through the lens of these stories, followed by an exploration of how those values can be practiced today.   

In addition, students will continue to learn about the Jewish holidays, exploring how we celebrate each respective holiday.  

Students will further their comfort in the sanctuary during tefillah(services) and have meaningful Jewish learning experiences through music, yoga, cooking, and gardening.

Third Grade

The core theme of our third grade curriculum is Exploring my Relationship with God. Students will explore ideas of God and holiness and discover a Jewish vocabulary for thinking and talking about God. Amongst what students will learn: We cannot know what God looks like, but we can see the things God creates. We are all made in God's image. Life is a miracle, and all life is holy. We are connected to each other and to God.  Students will gain a personal sense of holiness and a life rooted in Jewish spirituality.

In addition, students will continue to learn about the Jewish holidays, focusing on our personal connections to each respective holiday.  These personal connections will aid what they learn in Hebrew school in relation to prayers and blessings.

Students will be active participants during tefillah (services) and have meaningful Jewish learning experiences through music, yoga, cooking, and gardening.

Fourth and Fifth Grade

The main focus of our fourth and fifth grade curriculum is Israel.  Students will be introduced to Israel's history and geography, as well as its political, commercial, and cultural life. Israel's struggle to coexist peacefully with its neighbors is presented in a thoughtful and age-appropriate way. Students will learn about Israelis their own age: what they do for fun, their favorite sports and foods, and what their schools are like.

Beginning in fourth grade, students will have the opportunity to select various electives according to their own interests.  In addition to popular electives such as cooking and gardening, students may select between classes on art and music appreciation, Jewish values through sports, and others.  Electives will be in four to five-week sessions throughout the school year.

Sixth Grade

The core focus of our sixth grade curriculum is The Prophets: Speaking out for Justice.  An ideal course of study before students undertake b'nai mitzvah preparation, students will explore the lives of the prophets and the Jewish values they exemplify. Stories based on biblical texts bring each prophet vividly to life, while narrative provides historical context for considering the challenges faced by the prophets in their own day. Connections to modern-day events and people are explored as well, helping students discover the relevance for today in the ancient messages of our biblical ancestors. 

Students will also have the opportunity to select various electives according to their own interests.  In addition to popular electives such as cooking and gardening, students may select between classes on art appreciation, Jewish values through sports, and others.  Electives will be in four to five-week sessions throughout the school year.

Kulanu (Seventh and Eighth Grade)

The main theme of our Kulanu curriculum is My Judaism.  Through engaging lessons about responsibility, community, integrity, and tikkun olam(repairing the world), students will begin to identify how Judaism connects with them today.  A special focus on the Reform Jewish value of informed choice will be explored, the idea that our personal Jewish practices begin with making informed decisions and understandings of those practices. 

Students will also have the opportunity to select various electives according to their own interests. In addition to popular electives such as cooking and gardening, students may select between classes on drama, Jewish values through sports, and Judaism and science, yearbook, and others. Electives will be in four to five-week sessions throughout the school year.

Beginning in seventh grade, students may also participate in the madrichim (teacher’s aide) workshops with Rabbi Schwartz and serve as a madrich or madricha in the classroom.  

Chai School (Ninth Grade)

The core focus of our Chai School curriculum is Sacred Choices, Sacred Voices. Students will begin the year exploring issues of sex, body image, drugs, and peer-pressure through a Jewish lens and in a developmentally appropriate way.  This first semester will be taught by Rabbi Schwartz.  The second half of the school year will transition to the topic of the Holocaust.  Guided by the work of Facing History and Ourselves, the Holocaust will be approached in a way that heightens students’ understanding of racism, religious intolerance, and prejudice.  Students’ ability to relate history to their own lives and a greater understanding of their roles and responsibilities in a democracy will be increased.

Confirmation (Tenth Grade)

Taught by Rabbi Aron and David Spodick, students in the tenth grade meet to explore Jewish issues and formulate their own individual perspectives on ethics and theology. They work with mentors from our congregational community and create their own Confirmation service. The Confirmation class will take a trip to Sacramento with confirmands from Temple Emanuel to discover the relationship between Judaism and civic engagement. Confirmation students also will participate in Jewish experiences at Shir Hadash as well as in the broader Jewish community, including the Jewish Film Festival.

Jews Around the World (Eleventh and Twelfth Grade)

There are many ethnic and religious subgroups within the Jewish community. Jews from different parts of the world have developed distinct cultures and customs.  Students will have the opportunity to have a glimpse of Judaism’s diversity in the world and meet with individuals from these communities.  A highlight of the year is a six-day trip to Costa Rica, where students will have the opportunity to meet with members of the Costa Rican Jewish community and participate in service learning projects.  

 

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