Gesher (Bridge or Transition) Grades 5 – 6
In Grade 5, students explore the theme of Reform Judaism and the power of community. Utilizing the CHAI Level 5 curriculum, students uncover how Reform Judaism is based on the message of the Prophets’ call to social action, uncovering how the Prophets serve as leadership models and connecting what we can learn from the Prophets to our understanding of leadership in our lives and in our communities. Students also encounter G’milut Chasadim as it connects to our responsibility to not separate ourselves from our community. In learning about chagim (holidays), Grade 5 students discover narratives of and opportunities for leadership, specifically focusing on the central idea of freedom as it appears in the narrative of the chagim. The Hebrew Curriculum for Grade 5 focuses on developing an understanding of the Amidah, the central prayer in our liturgy. Students learn the order of the Amidah’s brachot (blessings), uncover the deeper meaning of the brachot in the Amidah, and further refine their decoding and chanting skills. To support their learning, students participate in T’filah (Prayer), Amanut (Art) and Kehillah (Community Time) on Sundays, and are given opportunities to lead T’filah (Prayer) during the week.
While Israel is integrated into all units of learning throughout each grade level, Grade 6 students directly explore Israel. In their exploration of the Jewish homeland, students discover the land itself, as well as its inhabitants, uncover Israel’s rich culture and diverse peoples and identify the challenges that face this unique country. Students are also given the opportunity to deepen their personal relationship with Israel and consider the place that Israel currently holds in their life as well as what relationship they hope to have with Israel in the future. The Grade 6 curriculum also focuses on identity formation and accountability. Central to this part of the curriculum is the quote, “Every person has three names: one his or her father and mother give, one others call him or her, and one s/he earns for him or herself” (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:1). In this part of the curriculum students explore questions such as, “What is the power of names?”, “How do the choices one makes influence the name that one earns?” and “What name do I wish to earn for myself?” This curriculum also helps students create a connection between our actions and accountability and the type of person that we hope to become. In studying chagim (holidays), students consider how each chag (holiday) provides us with the opportunity to take accountability for our actions and become participants in the Jewish community. The Grade 6 Hebrew curriculum provides an opportunity for students to review the Shabbat morning service, and then focuses specifically on the Torah service. Students learn to decode and chant the blessing recited before putting on a Tallit, the blessings recited before and after the reading of Torah and the blessings recited before and after the reading of Haftarah. Students also practice the choreography of the Torah service and consider what it means to reenact receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai each and every Shabbat. To support their learning, students participate in T’filah (Prayer), Amanut (Art) and Kehillah (Community Time) on Sundays, and are given opportunities to lead T’filah (Prayer) during the week.
Kitah Kadimah – Enrichment Class
This class utilizes Project Based Learning to create a supplemental learning experience for those students who are able to master their grade’s Hebrew curriculum at a quicker pace than their peers. The class is student led and teacher guided. Each year, the students are asked to address an issue facing the Religious School and create a viable solution. For example, the first year the students were asked to create a prayer service for our last day of school program. To do this, students explored Jewish prayer and spirituality, addressing areas such as the history of T’filah, different forms of T’filah, whether prayer should be in Ivrit, the place of Visual T’filah in our worship services, and what makes for meaningful prayer experiences. This coming year, the class will be challenged to create videos to help their classmates review over the summer. To do this, the students will need to explore content areas such as Jewish prayer, the prayers included in the Shabbat morning service, the structure of prayers, decoding vs. chanting, as well as review what is currently being done with Hebrew videos and what will make for an engaging and educationally successful video.
We consider T’filah to be an integral part of our curriculum and we use this time to reinforce the idea that we are a Kehillah Kedoshah (Holy Community), allow students to explore their understanding of God and celebrate holidays and Holy Days through song. T’filah for students in Grades K-2 introduces them to the basic prayers in our service: Modeh Ani, Barchu, Shema, V’ahavtah, Mi Chamocha and the Amidah (Avot v’Imahot). Age appropriate songs are incorporated into the service, which largely remains the same from week to week, to help build a comfort level and familiarity. T’filah for Grades 3-6 on Sunday mornings expands on the basic service, adding Yotzer Or, the G’vurot and the Shabbat morning Kedusah. We chose the Shabbat morning Kedushah to help familiarize our students with the parts of the Amidah that they are most likely to hear. This provides for a fantastic teaching moment, which is discussed during Midweek T’filah. During this time, students learn about the structure of the service, the difference between weekday and Shabbat services, and have the opportunity to help lead prayers.
Parent-Child Hebrew is another option for our families seeking to engage in learning together. Parent-Child Hebrew replaces Midweek Hebrew and takes place on Sunday mornings, following the child’s Judaic class. Parent-Child Hebrew is a combined class with students in Grades 3-6 learning together with their parents. The curriculum rotates each year, allowing all students to encounter all of the Shabbat morning prayers by the time they have graduated from the program in Grade 6. Due to the mixed ages, learning in Parent-Child Hebrew is a collaborative initiative. Children and parents of different decoding abilities help one another in small group and chevrutah activities, overseen by the teacher. The curriculum is a mix of decoding work and spiritual exploration, helping the children and their parents work together to cultivate a more intimate connection to Jewish prayer.
K’riat B’Yachad (Reading Together) TEE offers complimentary Hebrew support to any Grade 3 through 6 student, if recommended by their teacher, through our special supportive program called K’riat B’Yachad, Reading Together. Students will receive up to eight individual sessions with a private tutor. The classes will take place on a scheduled basis worked out with tutor and family. For more information, please contact Kate Milgrom.