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Religious School Curriculum

Judaic Studies:

Preschool & Kindergarten students . . .

  • Build connections with our school and congregational family.
  • Experience the joy of the Jewish holidays.
  • Explore the building blocks of Jewish life with an introduction to mitzvot, Torah, Israel, our Synagogue, Jewish symbols and the life cycle.

1st – 3rd Grade students . . .

  • Explore Israel through a scavenger hunt learning about special objects and places, cities and people.
  • Learn Hebrew words and phrases closely associated with Israel.
  • Learn the story of each holiday and understand the basic vocabulary, rituals, symbols, traditions and legends associated with each holiday.

4th – 5th Grade students . . .

  • Build a knowledge and understanding of core Jewish values related to G’milut Chasadim—acts of loving kindness.
  • Develop an early understanding of the connection between our behavior and our Jewish values.
  • Plan and execute a mitzvah project that demonstrates their understanding of one or more of the Jewish values they learn.

6th Grade students . . .

  • Learn about the changes and progression in American Jewish life from early settlement in 1654 to the challenges of current times.
  • Become familiar with some prominent Jews in American life, as well as the interplay of Jewish values and their achievements.
  • Develop a recognition of the parallels between the experiences of American Jews and other immigrant groups.

7th – 8th Grade Students . . .

  • Learn the difference between productive, meaningful argument and hurtful, divisive discord guided by the teachings of our sages and text.
  • Discover that the Shoah is not an accident of history, but the result of choices and decisions made by people that had horrific impacts on people just like them and their families.
  • Will understand that the only way to prevent another Shoah or genocide from occurring is if people prevent it.

Chai School Students . . .

  • Explore Jewish values and how they shape our lives.
  • Study Jewish texts for how they inform our ethical decisions.
  • Explore challenging moral dilemmas and ethical choices and how our Jewish values and texts assist our navigation through difficult waters

Hebrew Studies:

Our Hebrew Students . . .

  • Are introduced to Hebrew words and phrases from the earliest grades through stories, play and movement.
  • Gain an ear for Hebrew and as they demonstrate a readiness to learn more, they begin more formal instruction. 
  • Are generally ready for this transition around 2nd or 3rd grade, but very occasionally are ready as early as 1st grade and sometimes not until 4th grade.
  • Are progressed through our Hebrew program at a rate that is comfortable with where their skills and understanding are.
  • During the initial year of formal study, focus on learning the Alef-Bet and vowel sounds and begin decoding words and short phrases.
  • Focus on developing prayer fluency as their skills develop, as well as building an understanding of the themes and meaning of prayers and understanding why we pray.
  • Prepare to become B’nei Mitzvah and assume the role of Jewish adults in our congregation or wherever life might take them throughout their lives.

What Our Teachers Say About Teaching

Ronda SullivanImagination Station:   I teach to spark a life long quest of meaningful answers that will engage our students in a better understanding of Judaism and a love for its teachings.

Dori Nudelman 2nd & 3rd Grades:   I teach because it helps to keep me grounded in my Judaism and knowing that the next generation will be continuing the knowledge and practices of Judaism in my community, and because I love doing it and love the kids.

Elisa Westfall – 4th & 5th Grades:    My goal as a teacher is to help create a community of learners who can both learn and play together.  My wish is for the students to learn about their Jewish identities in a supportive and caring classroom.  I teach to help bring us together.

Rosanne Kolberg – 6th Grade and Kitah Alef: I teach because I love and respect children!  I gain so much joy watching them discover and grow as they learn to appreciate their place and power in the Jewish community.

Jordan Henry – 7th & 8th Grades and Kitah Bet: The poet, Rumi once said, “The lamps are different, but the light is the same.”  I teach to prevent the dying of that light.  All students deserve to feel their own sacred worth and engage with the countless generations of Jewish knowledge.  I teach to ensure every student finds connection, love, and meaning.

Gail Bienstock – Kitah Gimel: Teaching is all about learning for me.  Our students share their world, hopes, wants and wishes, keeping our world “real.”  As we create community and shared values, each of us is strengthened.  This year, teaching Hebrew, I hope to explore with my students the role of prayer in our community, our world and our lives.

Joan Tucker – Our Devoted Volunteer School Secretary: As I don’t actually teach, I feel that I have a unique purpose.  I am the “grandmother” to the children.  I am the link to a generation that they might not have contact with and all that might mean to each child.


“I want the next generation of learners . . . to continue the legacy of Tree of Life.”

“To see the younger kids smile when I share our Jewish stories . . .”

“I teach because I love forming relationships within our community.”

“I help teach because I enjoy enriching the kids’ lives with the same knowledge I received at their age.”

“I want to help make the lives of teachers a little bit easier. . .”

“I love being at the Tree of Life Congregation and I would do anything to help out.”

“The main reason I teach is to help students learn about their Jewish identities.”

“I teach to engage children in . . . Jewish life.”

“I teach so the kids can get a helpful hand.”

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Tue, June 22 2021 12 Tammuz 5781