Curriculum Overview

In every classroom we focus on Jewish learning and religious exploration. But with kids that come from dozens of different secular schools, building Jewish community is another integrated part of our curriculum.

Who helps pull this off? A group of amazingly talented, knowledgeable, caring, and creative teachers. That's who! 

Open Room

  • Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students explore Judaism through four activity centers in the Open Room – art, main lesson, drama, and free creative play. The last morning rotation is a music session for the entire room. Through art projects, games, stories, music, and exploration the children make friends and have fun while learning about Judaism. The program is a two year curriculum.

Grade 1

  • First graders have a widening sense of the world beyond their home. Our goal is to foster and strengthen Jewish identity and help kids connect with one another through a wide variety of positive Jewish experiences. The curriculum focuses on the Jewish values of the month, major Jewish holidays, Bible stories, and relationship with God. Kids also enjoy t’fillah (services), music, and Sefer Safari (library reading program).
  • New this year is a program called Torah Play in which 1st graders will experience a unique kind of story telling, reflection and open exploration in our newly designed classroom.

Grade 2

  • Second graders are curious! We take advantage of their natural curiosity.

    Big Ideas:

    • I am part of the Jewish family (from my own family, to my synagogue family, and all the way to my connection to all Jewish people.)
    • The synagogue is my home away from home. How is synagogue like my home?
    • Israel is a place and a people. I belong to both.
    • We have a responsibility to use our Jewish values to help us be better people and to help our friends, community, and world.

    Students explore their own Jewish families, their synagogue community, the world Jewish community, and the land and people of Israel. We also introduce the Hebrew letters each week and students participate in ’fillah (services), music, and Sefer Safari (library reading program.) 

Grade 3

  • Third grade students explore the Jewish Holidays on a deeper level than they have previously. We focus on the relevance between the holidays and today’s world.

    Big Ideas:

    • Holidays help us connect to our tradition, our community, and the world.
    • Celebrating/observing holidays helps us to live a Jewish life and build Jewish identity.
    • Holidays teach us about our responsibility to ourselves, to our people, and to our world.
    • Holidays can be experienced many different ways at different times in one’s life.
    • Holidays are more than celebrated or observed, they are experienced.

    Students continue their Hebrew study with the introduction of vowels and the challenge of putting letters together to form words. Students participate in t’fillah (services), music, and Sefer Safari (library reading program.)

Grade 4

  • The fourth grade is focused on the subject of Israel: people, land, history, religion, and culture. With their earnestness for learning and their longer attention spans, nine-year-olds can delve into more complex studies.

    Questions we explore:

    • What does Israel mean to me?
    • How can knowledge of Israel enrich my Jewish belief and behavior?
    • What different roles do Eretz Yisrael (the land) and Medinat Yisrael (the state) play in my relationship to Israel?
    • What are the options for relationships I might have with Israel?
    • What does it mean to be part of Am Yisrael (the Jewish people)?

    Additional Hebrew instruction begins with our online Hebrew Connect class. Students become confident with their letters and vowels and are able to decode Hebrew quickly and easily. 

Grade 5

  • Fifth grade focuses on three foundational areas of Judaism: God, Torah, and Life-cycles.

    Big Ideas:

    • God is central to Jewish life.
    • We are all created in the image of God, a God who expects us to act ethically, justly, and compassionately.
    • Wrestling with and questioning our beliefs about God is an essential part of being Jewish and it is a lifelong process.
    • The Torah is our guide to living a good Jewish life.
    • Reading and interpreting Torah is our right and responsibility as Jews.
    • Observing or celebrating Jewish life cycle events helps us sanctify and define key moments in our lives.
    • Observing or celebrating Jewish life cycle events increases our connection to our family and to the Jewish people (past, present and future.)

    Hebrew studies become more advanced and students learn the first part of our Shabbat Morning Service. 

Grade 6

  • The focus here is on Jewish history, from biblical times to the present. We explore the various events and people throughout Jewish history that help us as modern Jews shape our own Jewish identity.

    Big Ideas:

    • I am part of a Jewish family tree that goes all the way back to the Patriarchs and Matriarchs and includes Jews in every age and nation.
    • By understanding the challenges, choices, contributions, and opportunities our ancestors faced, and the similarities to my own, I can better choose how to live Jewishly today.
    • Jewish life and culture have been enriched through creative responses to the challenges history has presented.
    • I am part of a kehilah kedosha, a community based on kavod (mutual respect) for each other, as demonstrated by derech eretz (good manners.)

    Hebrew classes continue to learn the Shabbat morning liturgy.

Junior High

  • The junior high curriculum is about learning and continuing to build friendships. In this elective system, students choose two elective courses each semester. A diverse range of topics are offered including:  Jews Around the World, Great Jewish Debates, Holocaust, Jewish Art, and more.

  • In addition to these electives, each grade reinforces Jewish values and helps teens explore and embrace their Jewish identity. How do we do it? Through special activities designed specifically for each grade. Field trips, guest speakers, and innovative projects. It’s engaging, interactive, and experiential Jewish education at its best.

  • 7th Grade Focus: Responsibility, community, integrity – the core values of becoming a bar or bat mitzvah. 

  • 8th Grade Focus: Living the values of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and G'milut Chasidim (acts of loving kindness) along side their friends. 

 

Typical Day

  • Before everyone arrives, teachers busily prepare for a day of children, learning, and fun.
  • An Open Room teacher talks with children about mezuzot and then leads them on a wide-eyed scavenger hunt, looking for mezuzot on doorposts throughout the Temple.
  • 1st graders learn about the value of ometz lev (courage) by interviewing people throughout the Temple about times they showed courage.
  • 2nd graders make a “promise of hands” rainbow to show their brit (commitment) to one another.
  • 3rd graders learn about the value of hachnasat orchim (hospitality) in a lesson on Sukkot and then role play being a host in their sukkah. 
  • 4th graders have an “Ask the Rabbi” session with Rabbi Kamrass and ask questions like, “Are all the stories in the Torah true?”, “How does God keep track of everyone?”, and “Who invented falafel?”
  • 5th graders prepare a Torah lesson to creatively present to 1st graders.
  • 6th graders lead services and teach others about the meaning of the prayers.
  • Junior high students study Moses, discuss leadership, and then debate whether “leadership should be reserved for an elite class of people who demonstrate exceptional intelligence and adhere to a higher moral standard.”
  • In the library, volunteer storytellers make Jewish tales come alive for all ages, and students are awarded prizes for reading at home through our Sefer Safari program.
  • In the chapel, our 1–3 grade students use an age-appropriate prayer book to become more comfortable with prayer, and our older students dance, clap, and sing to their favorite Hebrew songs during a ruach (spirit)-filled song session.
  • Madrichim teach a lesson, lead a game, make children laugh, help a teacher, and are all around rock stars.

Religious School Calendar

Questions? Terri Snavely, Education Administrative Assistant,
513-793-2997 or 
tsnavely@wisetemple.org.