Hebrew School Curriculum


    Shoreshim curriculum is inspired by Reggio Emilia approach - - Our goal is to offer our students a meaningful, authentic and relevant Jewish learning experience. This approach focuses on fostering relationships among children, teachers, parents and community.

       Another central feature of the approach is hands-and minds-on exploration.  Children explore materials and media through short and long-term projects based on an “emerging curriculum,” of children’s interests. Project Based learning is highly engaging and successful. Jewish culture, holiday celebrations, Torah study, Israel, and Hebrew language are incorporated throughout our curriculum. 

        We view parents as key partners in their children’s development and there are many opportunities for parent involvement. Parents are invited to participate in various school events including: Shabbat gathering, Holiday celebrations, and Family Programs throughout the year.

At Shoreshim, we hope to instill a love of being Jewish in our students; a feeling of being "at home" with Jewish customs, rituals, and services; and the sense that Judaism speaks to the spiritual and moral issues that matter in one's life. 

We emphasize interactive learning to engage each child with the subject matter, using a variety of modalities:  singing, movement, art, dance, music, story-telling, baking are all woven into the curriculum.  We develop our program using the principles of "Understanding by Design," so that each component helps to convey enduring understandings of Judaism.  A spiral curriculum builds on the knowledge developed in prior years and deepens it as the students grow.

Weekly school-wide assemblies help knit the school together as a community, reinforcing holidays and Torah study.  Monthly Family Learning programs bring the entire family together to prepare for holidays, engage in tzedakah projects, and explore different  facets of Judaism together.  Several times a year, students gather to lead Shabbat or holiday services, displaying their skills and progress.

Following is a grade-by-grade outline of Shoreshim’s curriculum. Different grades may be combined in classes each year depending on the size and age distribution of the student body. 

Kindergarten / First Grade

Holidays are the primary focus of these early years;  songs, stories, crafts, and movement are the primary means of learning.  The Jewish holidays provide a framework around which most of our Jewish lives revolve.  Each holiday is bursting with symbols, rituals, and celebrations in which our children can participate.  K-1 children will use their senses of smell, touch, sight, hearing and taste to experience the holidays. Through arts and crafts the children will explore the significant theme of each holiday.

Hebrew/Prayer:    Using a wide variety of forms, such as our body, magnetic letters, play-dough, foam puzzles, flash cards, and art materials the students will be introduced to the building blocks of the Hebrew language. 

Second Grade / Third Grade

Bible Stories:  Stories from the Torah form the basis for Judaics in these early grades.  Students learn and act out the stories, discuss the teachings and mitzvot that the stories convey, and internalize the text in a variety of interactive ways.  Special emphasis is given to the patriarchs and matriarchs in Genesis, the exodus and Sinai stories, Kings David an

d Solomon, and the prophets.  

Hebrew/Prayer:  Students continue "reading readiness" by learning the names of Hebrew letters and mastering the sounds of consonants and vowels.  A rich repertoire of Hebrew songs and Jewish prayers is mastered, enabling students in these grades to begin leading parts of the school-wide prayer services.  The combination of visual recognition of Hebrew whole words, and aural familiarity with Hebrew songs, classroom vocabulary, and prayers, gives students the foundation for success in 4th grade when phonetic reading in Hebrew begins. 

Fourth Grade                                                            

The Jewish Life Cycle, Israel, God:   In the fall  of 4th grade, students learn the ideas and rituals behind the Jewish life cycle:  birth (brit milah, simchat bat); adolescence (bar/bat mitzvah and confirmation);  adulthood (marriage, divorce); end of life (death, funerals, mourning).  In the winter and spring, we introduce the idea of a Jewish homeland and the Jewish Diaspora.  With the aid of books, pamphlets, videos, and a visit by a Shaliach (emissary), students begin their exploration of Israel -- the land, the people, the history, and the cultures.  Through a variety of Torah stories, discussions, music, art, drama, and nature explorations, students explore Jewish spirituality and concepts of God, and begin to develop their own spirituality and a relationship with God.     

Hebrew/Prayer:  Fourth grade is when we introduce Hebrew phonics, allowing our students to begin reading Hebrew prayers, most of which they already know aurally and understand the meaning of, from prior years.  Individual assistance is offered by older teenagers, to meet each student at his or her own level of progress.  The repertoire of prayers expands to include key prayers in the daily and Shabbat service.

Fifth Grade 

Heroes, Menschen, History:  Students learn  about Jewish heroes and heroines, and what it  means to be  a "mensch" (ethical person).  Jewish values, mitzvot, and ethics are interwoven into the biographies, as are historical events and issues.  Students might also learn about ancient Jewish history, and the encounter of the Jews with many of the great civilizations of the past:  Mesopotamia, Babylon, Greece, Persia, and Rome, as well as Christianity and Islam down to the present time.

Hebrew/Prayer:  Students continue to enhance their Hebrew reading skills and further build their vocabulary of Judaism.  Prayer meaning and word comprehension are key elements.  Prayer repertoire expands further to include the Amidah. 

Sixth Grade

Jewish History and Values:  Students learn in greater depth about the modern history of the Jews, from the end of the 19th century to today's topical headlines.  Topics in Jewish history range from the turmoil and strife of Russia in the 1880's, to the great migration to the United States, the creation of the modern State of Israel, modern American Jewish life, and life in the Diaspora.  Textbook:  Jonathan Sarna and Jonathan Krasner, History of the Jewish People, vol. 2.  Jewish values are studied through Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of the Fathers, a classic Jewish text on essential moral and interpersonal teachings.

Hebrew/Prayer:  Students continue to develop Hebrew reading skills, and work on mastering the Shabbat morning Torah service.  They learn the choreography of the service and reach their own level of comfort as class service leaders.   Students are able to demonstrate an understanding of the ideas and ideals of prayer studied, and the moral and ethical values inherent in their message.