The Hebrew School curriculum is designed to meet all learners where they are and support them in their growth along their Jewish Journey.
Our Judaic studies include learning about Torah, prayer, mitzvot (biblical commandments), social justice, Israel, and the Jewish people within the Jewish and global communities. Our Hebrew program helps our students become proficient Hebrew readers, become familiar with the liturgy of the Shabbat services, recognize key Hebrew root words from the liturgy, and understand the big ideas of each prayer. All children engage in music, tefilah (prayer), and the study of Jewish holidays and Israel.
Because our tradition teaches us that the study of Torah is every bit as important as prayer, giving tzedakah, or doing gemilut hasadim (acts of loving-kindness), we require boys and encourage girls to cover their heads with kippot while at school.
Judaics and Hebrew Curriculum
Kitah Gan (Kindergarten)
The Judaics curriculum is built around the themes of creation and Shabbat. Students explore the rituals associated with Shabbat, create Shabbat ritual objects, and learn about how families in the class celebrate Shabbat. They also create ritual objects for the holidays, such as a seder plate for Passover and a hanukkiah for Hanukkah, to learn about their use and aid in their celebrations of the holidays. The Gan and Aleph classes are invited, along with their parents, for a special visit to get to know one of the BJ Rabbis during the year. In Gan, the children are introduced to some letters of the Aleph Bet, using Let’s Discover the Alef Bet! They are introduced to a letter, its sound, and some vocabulary words that begin with that letter, and explore letters through games, art projects and classroom activities.
Kitah Aleph (1st Grade)
The Judaics curriculum focuses on Shabbat, the synagogue, and finding a spiritual home at B’nai Jeshurun. Children explore and engage in a scavenger hunt in the 88th Street Sanctuary, and meet with a BJ Rabbi. Children learn about the different ritual objects found in a synagogue and used on Shabbat, both in their homes and within their community. They also learn the origins of their Hebrew names. The Jewish holidays are taught through stories, songs, games and creative projects that reinforce their understanding. Children continue to be introduced to Hebrew letters and their sounds.
Kitah Bet (2nd Grade)
The theme of Kitah Bet is gemilut hasadim, acts of loving-kindness. Through a mitzvah-based curriculum, children learn about the Jewish roots of mitzvot such as visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, and taking care of the earth. The Bet class puts their learning into action through field trips to the West Side Campaign Against Hunger and the Atria, an assisted living facility on the Upper West Side. Through music, they learn special blessings and songs for each holiday and about the ritual objects and traditions associated with each holiday. A deeper exploration of Hebrew begins with the book Alef-Bet Quest. Students learn Hebrew letters and how the letters and vowels come together to form words that will be the building blocks for participation in prayer and Jewish life with study of the first line of the sh’ma, oseh shalom, and barhu. The Bet class celebrates their learning at a Siddur Ceremony at the end of the year.
Kitah Gimmel (3rd Grade)
Students begin their first in-depth study of the Torah by delving into the book of Genesis using Behrman House’s The Explorer’s Bible. From the texts of Creation through leaving Egypt in the Exodus, students gain a strong foundation of the Torah text, and the people and values from which we make Judaism relevant and meaningful today. Children culminate their learning with the Bible People Extravaganza, where students dress up and act out the lives of their favorite person or object from the Torah. Hebrew Study in grades 3-6 is a unified and multimedia approach that allows students to progress at different paces.
Judaics Study in the Upper Grades
All 4th, 5th and 6th graders enrolled in Hebrew School and JJP (Jewish Journey Project) meet on Monday afternoons for Meet-Up. Children learn about a different category of mitzvot each year, engage in various mitzvot both in and outside of the classroom, and reflect on their learning together. Students in Hebrew School have Hebrew groups on both Mondays and Thursdays; students in JJP spend a portion of their day on Monday in Kehilah – community time – addressing additional topics related to their curriculum.
Kitah Dalet (4th Grade)
Using a combination of art, drama, and creative writing, students deepen their understanding of the texts of Genesis and Exodus by looking at them again through the lens of Midrash (interpretations). Make a Midrash Out of Me guides children to create their own midrashim on the texts and to learn about both traditional and modern midrash.
Kitah Hey (5th Grade)
Children explore social action/social justice mitzvot – such as bikhor holim (visiting the sick), makheil re’evim (feeding the hungry), and mitzvot around Shabbat and holiday practices – through the study of rabbinic literature and commentary. Children will encounter traditional Jewish thinkers, like Rashi and Rashbam, as well as modern Jewish theologians like Heschel, learn about the structure and content of books like the Mishnah and the Talmud, and engage in modern forms of Rabbinic interpretation. A mini-course with Rabbi Felicia Sol about bikkur holim is conducted in the spring.
Kitah Vav (6th Grade)
The Jewish life cycle, and its related mitzvot, is the focus of this year as the students prepare for bar/bat mitzvah, placing this milestone, as well as birth, marriage, and death, in the context of a Jewish life. Children learn the step-by-step basics of each life cycle event and also explore the reasoning and relevancy of each event. A mini-course with Rabbi Roly Matalon about wrapping tefillin is held in the fall.
Kitah Zayin (7th Grade)
Judaics study in the final year of Hebrew School is based on the Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior curriculum which helps students to explore the connection between Jewish history, identity, and the moral questions inherent in everyday life. It is an integrated course in history and identity grounded in Jewish ethics and values. The content is rich and teachers and students learn through concrete activities in history, literature, Jewish studies and the arts. In the spring there is a two-part theology workshop led by Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein.
Hebrew Study in the Upper Grades
Students enrolled in the Hebrew School focus on Hebrew and tefillah on Monday and Thursday afternoons. The Hebrew curriculum for Kitah Gimmel, Dalet, Hey and Vav is based on the Kol Yisrael series by Behrman House, the first fully integrated multi-media Hebrew series. The series consists of three levels, each featuring a resource book in addition to the Online Learning Center. Using the resource book, games and exercises, and the OLC at home, children learn the blessings and prayers that help them comfortably participate in Jewish rituals in the home and services in the synagogue. Hebrew prayer goals include Shabbat and holiday blessings, opening prayers of the Shabbat morning service and the Amidah, the Torah service, and the concluding prayers of the Shabbat service. Children learn Hebrew in small groups with other children at the same pace.