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3rd - 7th Grade
Students begin their Hebrew studies in earnest, focusing on letter recognition and beginning reading and prayer skills. The blessings for various foods and mitzvot receive attention, as do the Shehechiyanu prayer and the Four Questions from the Passover Seder. The Shema, Barchu, and Oseh Shalom prayers are among the first set of tefilot (prayers) they learn to translate word by word. Near the end of the year, the students participate in the ceremony of Siyyum HaSefer (Completion of the Book) at a Shabbat evening service and celebration. Additional focus is placed on learning about Tzedakah, and on beginning to develop a personal understanding of God through exploring Jewish ideas about God from the tradition. Bible study continues with a broader understanding of Torah, focusing on events and personalities. Students will begin to understand the people of the Torah as ancestors, rather than icons and begin to draw connections from the stories in the Torah to their own lives.
Social studies centers around Israel -- its history, different lifestyles such as city life and the Kibbutz, and the connection of the land and the people of Israel to the American Jewish community. There will be time for children to ask questions about current events in the Middle East as well. In Hebrew, students improve reading skills and vocabulary. They expand their study of Brachot (blessings) and begin to confront more challenging tefilot (prayers) such as the V’Ahavta, the blessings before and after the reading of Torah, and the Aleinu prayer. Jewish History focuses on biblical and rabbinic times. Bible study dovetails with this study, as the pupils read from the Prophets and Writings, emphasizing the values and ethics expressed in these parts of the Tanach. Students begin to understand the major changes in Jewish life as the Israelites became a nation with a homeland, a system of government and exposure to other cultures.
Study includes the Jewish Life Cycle -- birth, naming, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, confirmation, marriage, the family, and death and mourning. In Hebrew, students continue to improve reading, vocabulary, and prayer skills, including mastery of prayers introduced in the previous year. As they explore the age of the Rabbis and the beginning of the Diaspora to the Golden Age of Spain, students will study the adaptations of Jewish practice to the demands of cultural upheaval and exile. They will discover some of the reasons why eternal Law is subject to eternal interpretation
Study of history continues, beginning with Golden Age of Spain and continuing through the present. Students will discover the ways in which the Sephardim and the Ashkenazim diverged as history progressed. They will become aware of Judaism’s contributions to Western civilization and its response to Christianity, Islam, European political history and the rise of anti-Semitism. The study culminates in an examination of the modern State of Israel.
In Hebrew, students complete mastery of the prayers they are required to know for Bar and Bat Mitzvah, and all students receive small-group instruction in chanting Torah trope. Jewish ethics come into stronger focus, both from historical perspective and through discussion of personal choices. Sixth graders also participate in a series of family workshops and Learners’ Services in preparation for the B’nei Mitzvah year.
7th Grade is the year of change—change in status from child to young adult, and change in role from one who observes the world to one who makes a conscious difference in it. The curriculum focuses on making sound choices as we are faced with life’s ubiquitous dilemmas. At a time when youngsters are just beginning to understand that the world is imperfect, they are given the tools to see it as a work in progress.
Using ancient texts as reference points in solving modern problems, committing individually and as a group to community service projects, and learning about others who have made an impact on the world by living their values, these young adolescents will realize the significance of a single human being on the world as a whole.