Mechina (Kindergarten – 2nd Grade)
Our Kindergarten curriculum focuses on helping students create connections to one another and to the synagogue that help them to live as a Kehillah Kedoshah (Holy Community). Specifically, our Kindergarten class focuses on what it means to “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself,” discovering the meaning of important Hebrew words such as brit (covenant), kavod (respect/honor), tashlich (cast off) and t’shuvah (repentance). Students also work on identifying other people’s feelings and understanding that thinking about how they would like to be treated helps them in thinking about how to treat others. Students also learn about the chagim (holidays) that take place during the Jewish year and learn about ways that these chagim help us love our neighbors as ourselves. The Kindergarten curriculum creates experiences for students that help them uncover important features of our synagogue, both people and places, and learn how each individual member of our synagogue is connected to our larger synagogue community. To support their learning, students participate in Amanut (Art), Sifri-ah (Library), T’filah (Prayer) and Kehillah (Community Time).
Grade 1 focuses on how students can discover themselves in the Jewish story. This discovery takes place through learning about their Jewish ancestors in the Book of Bereshit (Genesis). Students not only learn the stories of our people, but they explore how those stories are connected to their lives and how they can learn to be better young Jewish people from these stories. Grade 1 also explores the chagim (holidays), focusing on the important ritual items and practices associated with each chag (holiday). Hebrew is integrated into the students’ learning through learning the Hebrew words for classroom objects and reinforcing basic Hebrew terms like Kadosh (Holy), Kehillah (Community) and G’milut Chasadim (Acts of Loving Kindness). Israel is also integrated into the students learning, as they explore the stories of our ancestors, who lived in what is now modern day Israel. To support their learning, students participate in Amanut (Art), Sifri-ah (Library), T’filah (Prayer) and Kehillah (Community Time).
Grade 2 focuses on helping students see themselves as a part of the Jewish people. Students explore the central narrative of the Jewish people, found in the Book of Sh’mot (Exodus). In learning about the Jewish people’s struggle for freedom and how difficult it was for them to learn to live together as a community in the desert, students uncover ways to see God in their world, what it means to be a part of a larger community, and what it means to apply the wisdom of the Torah to their lives. In addition, students explore what it means to be God’s partner in the world and how that shapes our attention to G’milut Chasadim (Acts of Loving Kindness). As they encounter chagim (holidays), students explore how our chagim connect us to the larger Jewish community, including Israel. Formal Hebrew studies begin in Grade 2, as students learn Hebrew letters and vowels, connecting this learning to the words that are already in their Hebrew vocabulary and to the prayers at they are learning in T’filah. To support their learning, students participate in Amanut (Art), Sifri-ah (Library), T’filah (Prayer) and Kehillah (Community Time).
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.