Religious School Curriculum

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

 



 

Pre-Kindergarten through 2nd grade: Sundays

 

Pre-Kindergarten: Our youngest students join together as they begin their journey into Jewish Education.  The rhythms of the Jewish year become clear to them as the children study the cycle of holidays.  They discuss the importance of the mezuzah and are exposed to the Sh’ma prayer in various settings, including weekly visits to the art and music specialists.  Jewish values and rituals are integrated into many lessons, and hands-on activities foster comprehension across many learning styles.

Kindergarten: The Kindergarten classroom fosters the necessary building blocks for the students to begin their Jewish identity. The children learn about joyous holidays such as Tu’Bshevat, and holidays that portray heroism such as Purim and Passover.  One of the goals is to educate the students about Judaic history and instill strong Jewish values, along with the feeling of community within the classroom.

1st Grade: Each week in 1st grade is a wonderful experience emphasizing Jewish character values and life lessons with the children. For example, when studying Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the lesson is to look at ourselves and our actions and become better people for the New Year.  On Sukkot, the students read a story about “The Thankful Coat” with a lesson about gratitude.  Each Sunday, we use our big, cardboard class “Moral Compass” to help identify the Jewish value of the day, such as being humble, patient, honest, etc.  Torah stories include Creation, Noah’s Ark, and the Tower of Babel.

2nd Grade:  Students begin Torah study, learning the rhythm of Jewish life.   By learning the stories of the Torah in sequence, students learn the relationships among the personalities in the Torah and gain a fundamental knowledge base and vocabulary for discussion of Jewish topics.  The children focus on the synagogue as our house of worship, house of study, and house of meeting.  Second graders also receive a gentle introduction to the language of our people as they learn the aleph-bet, vowels, and principals of reading Hebrew.

 

3rd through 6th grade: Sundays and Tuesdays

3rd Grade: 3rd Grade is the first year students attend religious school on Sundays and Tuesdays.  This gives the students more time to focus on Hebrew as a living language.  Classroom time on Tuesdays is focused on the alef-bet, where students learn to read common prayer words and short sentences.  On Sundays, students discuss the meaning of the Torah stories as they relate to their own Jewish life and values. There are also rotations for art and music where the students work on projects and learn songs based on the Jewish calendar.

 

4th Grade: Social studies center on 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 is time for children to ask questions about current events in the Middle East as well. The culmination of the studies is a festive day including Israeli food, hands-on projects, and games.  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 Torah, and Yotzer Or.  Students continue to build community in the classroom around Jewish values, and participate in art and music on a regular basis. 

 

5th Grade:  In 5th grade, students focus on life cycle events as a theme.  We partner with local leaders who come in to present on various life cycle events, such as birth and end of life rituals.  Each year the students plan a mock wedding, and everyone has a role from bride and groom, to photographer, to members of the wedding party.  The students really engage in this active program, which teaches them all about relationships and the Jewish wedding ceremony.  Hebrew studies in 5th grade include a more in-depth analysis of prayer meaning, and studies include prayers such as the Amidah and the Kiddush for both Friday night and Saturday morning.  Students also spend time exploring issues of social justice through a Jewish lens.

 

6th Grade: This is an important year for students, as they begin more specific preparations to become b’nai mitzvah.  Our expert trope teacher guides the students in the art of Torah chanting, and they continue their Hebrew studies, mastering fluency as they prepare to lead the congregation in prayer.  The year is also spent exploring Jewish history, including great leaders of the past, as well as the Holocaust.  The 6th grade curriculum includes an emphasis on tikkun olam (reparing the world) and mitzvot (good deeds), enabling the students to connect their Jewish learning to giving back to the community.  Field trips to Bernie’s Book Bank, Feed My Starving Children, and The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center allow the students to bring their learning to life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7th grade: Tuesdays

 

7th Grade: During this busy time of students’ lives, we aim to keep 7th graders engaged at Solel through meaningful projects and community building.  Through the curriculum, students visit local houses of worship on field trips to learn more about other faiths, and are better able to explore their own Judaism through discussion.  Students bring their values to life through activities such as planting flowers in the community, tutoring younger students, and repairing old prayer books.  Once a month the students are visited by Rabbi Moffic for Torah and Pizza, helping them build deeper connections with our clergy and enjoy their time together.

 

8th through 12th grade: Sunday afternoons (twice a month)

 

8th-12th Grade: Post b’nai-mitzvah programming meets twice per month on Sunday afternoons for a Lou Malnati’s pizza lunch.  Once a month all grades meet together for hands-on, current event, and relevant programming for teens.  We have hosted Keshet, Stand With Us, and NFTY, among other organizations, which helped provide our teens with knowledge, leadership skills, and information for their high school years and beyond.  The second session of the month, the teens participate in a gender-based program, under the guidance of the Moving Traditions curriculum.  The girls meet with Ashley Plotnick for Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girls’ Thing and the boys meet with Michael Schneider for Shevet Achim: The Brotherhood.  The programs are designed to be a safe forum for teens to discuss important topics of adolescence through a Jewish lens.  Additionally, our 10th grade Confirmation students meet monthly with Rabbi Moffic for Torah study and dinner at Mizrahi Grill.