OUR TEACHING METHOD
Our educational process takes an EXPERIENTIAL and spiritual approach, better known as “informal education.” At B’nai Torah Congregation, students are exposed to Judaism in a variety of ways. Specific curricular elements are carefully prepared by the religious school staff to give students opportunities to experience the material while engaging teachers and classmates.
We believe that the best kind of learning comes from meaningful experiences. This lets students learn to live their lessons by participating in student driven projects and teacher led sessions. Our students learn by observing, creating and sharing. Our educators break up their time and develop thematic activities in conjunction with the attention spans, interests, and ability levels of the various grade levels.
Tefillah is taught to give our students the chance to experiment with keva (prayer structure) and kavannah (a sense of spirituality felt during prayer). These are the elements inherent to praying with a group and with a spiritual connection that fills your heart. When students hear, recite and practice prayers that they need to know for Bar and Bat Mitzvah, they gain a sense of familiarity with the order of the service as well as the words and tunes contained within our prayer services. Individual students and grade levels have the opportunity to lead services at various times throughout the year.
As Rabbi Hillel said, “You should not separate yourself from the community.” In order to practice Judaism, a community of Jews is required for the individual cannot practice in a vacuum alienated from others. Through our connections with others, we find support, friendship and new ideas; we can fulfil mitzvot and build a kehillah kedoshah (a holy community). Our religious school program builds community by strengthening relationships and bonds through our students and our parents.
Family education is a central component of our religious school. We believe each parent is a child’s first and most influential teacher. When children see that their parents value Jewish learning and practice, it is natural for them to follow suit. During our family events, parents model active Jewish learning as they attend and participate in discussions, thus giving them the opportunity to convey their values, insights and more to their children. The many programs our families will be able to participate may include: “Treasure Hunt for God,” “Build a Prayer,” “B’nai Torah University,” “World Wide Wrap,” “The Yad Program,” “Sukkotfest,” “Mitzvah Day,” “Yiddishfest,” “Sephardicfest,” and various holiday celebrations.
HEBREW (Kgn-1st grade optional; 2nd – 7th grade required; offered Monday through Friday)
Harriet Glazer Hebrew Beit Midrash – Our Hebrew program is a model for differentiated learning. Differentiated learning is defined as “the right of each pupil to be taught in a way specifically tailored to his or her individual learning needs.” Students of all grades share a large space where they are assigned to a teacher and work in small group settings. The groups work side-by-side and teachers are able to collaborate during sessions, which makes for a more proficient and effective learning experience. Students work on their Hebrew reading skills as indicated by their portfolios, and rotate from group sessions to learning centers as the class progresses. Learning centers include educational games, computers, flashcards, puzzles and more. Our Hebrew program operates Monday through Friday with lessons tailored to each individual student, allowing us to provide families unprecedented flexibility as students attend from week to week on any day which best suits their ever-busy schedules.
JUDAICA (PreKgn – 7th grade; offered Shabbat or Sunday)
PreKgn, Kgn & 1st grade students will enjoy a yearlong celebration of “Being Jewish.” Students will be introduced to the wonders of God’s creations, our holidays, and the Mitzvot of Tzedakah, Bikkur Holim (visiting the sick), Hachnasat Orchim (welcoming guests) and much more. The Hebrew alphabet will also be introduced to begin developing reading skills.
2nd & 3rd grade students will explore their own God-given special qualities through Bible stories. They will learn about the Matriarchs and Patriarchs and the challenges they faced as leaders of B’nai Yisrael. Students will be introduced to Jewish values and how to bring relevance to them in their own day-to-day lives, and celebrate and explore the Jewish holidays through experiential programs.
4th & 5th grade students will learn about and experience Israel’s culture, daily life, entertainment, sports, etc. We will create a relationship with students and teachers from our sister city, Zichron Yaacov, in Israel and celebrate holidays together. Students will explore how the Torah is written, learn the art of the Sofer, how to navigate through the Torah, and how to relate biblical texts to their daily lives.
6th & 7th grade students will continue to expand their knowledge of prayer, and strengthen their understanding of communal worship and abilities to lead a prayer service. Students will explore Jewish values by being introduced to text and traditional writings dealing with Tikkun Olam (repairing the world).
(Kgn – 5th grade Religious School Track for Parents and Students)
Mishpacha, our Family Learning Program, is an innovative path towards engaging the whole family in Jewish learning. Participants will meet once a month, instead of the regular religious school weekend program.
At our monthly meetings, Mishpacha adults spend time in conversation with our rabbis while their children learn with our teachers. Later, parents and children enjoy interactive activities to explore the ideas learned separately. Throughout the year, families will work on projects together, learn about Jewish values, expand Talmud Torah (Jewish learning), increase Simcha (joyous celebration), participate in Tikkun Olam (fixing the world), and experience Kedushah (holiness/spirituality).
HEBREW HIGH SCHOOL
(Grades 8 -12, offered once a month on Shabbat)
Hebrew High School is committed to building a vibrant Jewish future by engaging fully with the modern world. It is a place where Jewish teens have fun, hang out and learn about Judaism. Each month has a unique topic that teachers cover with their students, and each learning session features interactive lessons. We encourage an atmosphere of acceptance and respect with a commitment to open sharing without judgment. The students are empowered to help select subject matter discussed in classes and participate in the planning of our annual retreats.
The high school program includes Shabbat lunch, which is a special time for our students. They have the opportunity to ‘schmooze’ with the rabbis and discuss various topics of interest.
(Grades 8 -12)
Madrichim is the Hebrew word for leaders. Madrichim demonstrate their commitment to the Jewish community by aiding teachers in the classroom, and becoming role models and leaders in our synagogue. Just as the Torah teaches us that the older generation is to teach the history, traditions, and values of Judaism to the younger generation, so too do our Madrichim pass on what they have learned to the younger students. This program offers post-B’nai Mitzvah teens the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, increase self-confidence, express Jewish values, and learn practical teaching skills. Madrichim are able to earn community service hours or an hourly rate.
(Enrollment in Hebrew High School Program is required.)