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Temple Beth David’s Religious School

Mission, Goals, and Objectives

Temple Beth David’s Religious School is a diverse and caring community where students are inspired to develop a love of Judaism in its many forms. Guided by the values of Hesed (kindness), K’dushah (holiness), Tsedakah (justice/charity), and Limmud (learning), our purpose is to nourish the hearts, souls, and minds of our students. Our educational programs and staff aspire to provide a foundation for students to comfortably participate in all aspects of Jewish life.

The following are among the ever-evolving goals that our Rabbi, Educational Director, and Religious School Education Committee have set forth:

  1. Provide all of our students with meaningful experiences in the practice of Jewish ceremonies and observances in the home, community, and synagogue.
  2. Instill in our students the knowledge that Torah allows us to live vibrantly in the present as we plan for tomorrow with an eye on the past.
  3. Provide our students with meaningful Jewish communal and personal prayer experiences.
  4. Foster an environment where our youth feel free to explore and ask questions about their faith and their relationships with community, family, and God.
  5. Cultivate an appreciation of Jewish history, art, and culture.
  6. Imbue our students with the religious insights and ethical guidelines of Judaism so they may evolve as responsible, caring and committed members of society.
  7. Encourage the growth of Jews who actively respond to our prophets’ call for justice, peace and freedom.
  8. Instruct our students in the Hebrew language in a way that allows them to meaningfully participate in worship as well as perceive its relevance in today’s world.
  9. Instill a love of the peoples and land of the State of Israel, including a knowledge and sensitivity to the challenges its existence presents.
  10. Support the development of life-long friendships.

General Curriculum Overview

While the curriculum for each grade level varies according to the skills and talents of each teacher- and the needs of a particular group of students- the following is a general overview and description of Temple Beth David’s religious school curriculum for the following grade levels:

Pre-K-1- Introducing the Magic of Judaism

  1. Synagogue and home symbols, ritual items and practices (e.g. Aron Hakodesh, Ner Tamid, Menorah, Mezuzah)
  2. Torah: Jewish legends and ideas that inspire us and teach us how to live:
  3. Genesis legend,
  4. Noah and the Flood,
  5. The Patriarchs and Matriarchs of Genesis
  6. Moses and the liberation legend
  7. Jewish holidays and Shabbat: stories, symbol(s), words, food(s), game(s), blessing(s), and song(s)
  8. Hebrew, Prayer, and Jewish Values: SEE SEPARATE DOCUMENT
  9. Weekly crafts, games, and activities that support family/home connections to Jewish rituals and practices

2-3 Building Foundations

  1. Review and expansion of home and synagogue ritual items and practices
  2. Torah: Jewish legends and ideas that inspire us and teach us how to live well:

o   Exodus-> Deutornomy

  • Moses’ childhood; The Burning Bush; Deliverance from slavery
  • Journey to the Promised Land; Manna from Heaven; The Ten Spies
  • Revelation at Mt. Sinai and the 10 Commandments
  • The Golden Calf
  • Balak and Balaam
  • Moses Hits the Rock
  1. Jewish Holidays and Shabbat: Deepened understanding and experience of home and temple rituals and practices: review of stories, symbol(s), words, food(s), game(s), blessing(s), and song(s)
  2. Hebrew, Prayer, and Jewish Values: SEE SEPARATE DOCUMENT
  3. Weekly crafts, games, and activities that support family/home connections to Jewish rituals and practices

3-4 (5) Jewish Covenant and Identity

  1. Enduring Theme: “Being part of the Jewish people includes responsibilities and commitments to Self and the community, practicing kindness, being creative, and being a leader”
  2. Jewish Lifecycle Events- joy and meaning through the practice and understanding of Jewish communal rites (e.g. Brit, consecration, B’nai Mitzvah, Confirmation, Wedding)  
  3. Introduction to Jewish values and concepts including Maimonides Ladder of Ts’dakah; Tikkun Olam; L’dor Vador (From Generation to Generation); Brit (Covenant)
  4. From Tribes to a Nation
    • Book of Judges (Joshua, Deborah, Samson, Samuel)
    • Book of Kings (Saul, David, Solomon 
    • The Prophets (Isaiah, Elijah, Daniel,
    • Psalms (
  1. Hebrew, Prayer, and Jewish Values: SEE SEPARATE DOCUMENT

6-7: In and Out of Exile

  1. Essential Questions: What does Jewish history and tradition teach us about survival and living lives of meaning and purpose?  How does one transform adversity into blessing? What is “home”? 
  2. History as a gateway to understanding who we are today:
    • YEAR ONE- Babylonian Exile; The Macabees; Golden Age of Spain and the Inquisition;
    • YEAR TWO-The rise of Hassidism; The Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) and the emergence and development of Reform Judaism; The Holocaust; The birth of Modern Israel
  1. YEAR ONE-     Middot (Jewish Values)- holiness, kindness, learning, justice, beauty, peace, Mitzvah, action; Shabbat in depth;
  1. Hebrew, Prayer, and Jewish Values: SEE SEPARATE DOCUMENT

7-9: Expanding Jewish Horizons through Texts and Conversation

  1. Essential Questions: What are our responsibilities as Jews? As human beings? Im Ein Ani Li Mi Li… “If I am not for myself, who will be I? If only for myself, what am I? And If Not Now, When?”
  1. Exploring contemporary “hot topics” through a Jewish lens (e.g. death penalty, abortion, LGBT rights)
  2. The Wider Jewish community: Local and Global: (e.g. our local Federation,; neighboring synagogues and Jewish communities, Israel, Around the World
  3. The Other “Streams” of Judaism- Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal
  4. World Religions: How are we the same?  How are we different? Universal vs. Particularism
  5. Social action in practice (e.g. L’takein; feeding the homeless at Union Station; visiting senior center; Walk to End Genocide)
  1. Curriculum is partially developed collaboratively with students

Hebrew, Prayer, and Jewish Values Curriculum Overview

(As of May, 2017)

Over-Arching Objectives

  1. Develop a loving connection to Hebrew as a holy language
  2. Acquire Hebrew decoding skills
  3. Acquire basic modern/conversational Hebrew vocabulary as a means to connect with Israel and to the joy of the language
  4. Acquire basic prayer-book and biblical Hebrew vocabulary
  5. Develop an experiential and intellectual connection to Jewish values and concepts through prayer-book and biblical Hebrew vocabulary
  6. Memorize portions of the prayer service
  7. Fluently read portions of the prayer service
  8. Acquire rudimentary grammar concepts of both prayer-book and modern Hebrew
  9. Create poems, acrostics, prayers, songs, and/or stories using prayer-book and biblical Hebrew vocabulary  

Students Will Be Able To…

K/1  

  • Identify/write letters of Alef-Bet
  • Understand and make use of conversational vocabulary words (e.g. numbers, body parts, Family members; b’vakah lashevet)
  • Develop a connection to prayer-book values (Siddur Middot) through a “Word of the Week” derived from prayer-book Hebrew words (e.g. Shema; Yisrael; Shalom, Adonai; Mitzvah; Shabbat; Ts’dakah; Torah/Morah; Brachah)
  • Memorize: Shema, Bar’chu, candle and wine blessings
  • Create poems, acrostics, prayers, songs, and/or stories using prayer-book Hebrew vocabulary  

2-3:    

  • Review/practice writing all letters
  • Identify/write all vowels
  • Review conversational and Siddur Middot vocabulary and memorized prayers from K-1
  • Expand conversational vocabulary (e.g. colors; Ma shimcha/sh’meich, Ma shlomcha/shlomech + responses; days of the week; opposites- yom/lailah)
  • Deepen connection to Siddur Middot vocabulary (e.g. Eil/Elohim/Eloheinu; Avot, Imahot; Baruch/b’rachah; chayim/l’chayim; shamayim/arets; Kadosh/k’dushah)
  • Learn to read previously memorized vocabulary in K-1
  • Memorize: First line of V’ahavtah; first phrase of Avot/v’Imahot; Shehechiyanu; Chanukah blessings; First part of Mah Nishtanah
  • Create poems, acrostics, prayers, songs, and/or stories using prayer-book Hebrew vocabulary  

4-5     

  • Review of all conversational and Siddur Middot vocabulary and memorized from PreK-3
  • Deepen the connection to Siddur Middot vocabulary and introduce basic Hebrew grammar: (e.g. Chesed; Ahavah; Zikaron; shamayim-vaaretz; rofeh cholim; r’fuah; one-letter prefixes and suffixes; pronouns)
  • Learn to read previously memorized prayers and vocabulary in Grades K-3
  • Learn to read and sing Chanukah blessings; Shehechiyanu, Shema/Echad, Avot/Imahot, G’vurot
  • Study and develop connection to the Avot/Imahot, G’vurot
  • Create poems, acrostics, prayers, songs, and/or stories using prayer-book Hebrew vocabulary  

6-7     

  • Review of all conversational and Siddur Middot vocabulary, memorized prayers, and read/sung prayers from K-5
  • Expand Hebrew grammar concepts with a focus on the V’ahavtah
  • In coordination with pre-B’nai Mitzvah instructor, practice reading and comprehending parts of select prayers (Kiddush; Kaddish; V’ahavtah; Ma Tovu; Havdalah blessings
  • Acquire rudimentary grammar concepts of prayer-book Hebrew
  • Create poems, acrostics, prayers, songs, and/or stories using prayer-book Hebrew vocabulary   

Temple Beth David’s Religious School Program Description  

Temple Beth David Religious School serves the needs of students from Pre-Kindergarten to 10th grade.

Sessions for Pre-K-9th grade are held on Sunday mornings, September-May, from 9:30am-12:30pm.  

Students enrolled in our B’nai Mitzvah program (generally corresponding to the 5th, 6th, and 7th grades) attend an additional one hour class following religious school on Sundays for two years and an additional one hour class held on Wednesday afternoons for a half-year.  Students also meet with an individual instructor beginning six months prior to the Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony. 

Confirmation (10th grade) meets on alternate Sunday evenings during the school year. 

In addition to classroom time, sessions on Sunday’s often include: Tfillah (communal worship); visits of guest specialists (e.g. music, Israeli dancing, storytelling); field trips; visits to our award-winning library; class visits with Rabbi Lachtman; family learning days; Hanukah party; a Hanukah Boutique; and a Model Seder.  

Multiple Friday evening community dinners and Shabbat and Holiday family-friendly services occur throughout the year, often with religious school students participating. On select Friday evenings Rabbi and Cantor lead a Young Family Shabbat Service, generally held at 5:30pm.  Family Fun Night is our school’s main fund-raising event and a great community event.  Other programs have included: Saturday afternoon family programs followed by a student sleepover and “Parents Night Out!”

Our students are further encouraged to participate and make a difference in our wider community through some of the following activities: seasonal “Mitzvah” outings to a local Senior center; preparing meals for the homeless at Union Station; Shabbaton- the Jewish Federation of the San Gabriel and Pomona Valley’s winter weekend youth camp; L’takein- a three-day educational and social action teen expedition to Washington, D.C.; participation in Jewish World Watch’s  “March to End Genocide”; organizing food drives; volunteering at animal shelters.

Temple Beth David’s youth group (Tov Chai) provides yet another opportunity for our students to deepen friendships, develop leadership skills, and participate in activities that strengthen their commitment to Judaism.  Students in the 7th-12th grade meet on the first Wednesday of the month from 6:30pm-9:00pm and, together with their advisors, organize an exciting event approximately once a month.

Our school affirms the value of friendship and life-long learning by offering a robust array of classes and events for parents of our religious school students and congregants, normally held on Sunday mornings.  These have included: Jewish holiday workshops; Bringing Judaism into the Home classes; “Lox and Bagel Breakfasts” which engage guest speakers from the Jewish, inter-faith, and secular community; an “Un-orthodox” Torah class; adult Hebrew classes; film presentations; Jewish cooking classes; and a Jewish book club.