Our Religious school includes students from pre-school age through Confirmation (9th grade) and has a multi-faceted Judaic Studies curriculum.
Children in our youngest grades begin to learn about our holidays, history and traditions and how they are intertwined. The concepts of tikkun olam and tzedakah are an integral part of the values we try to impart to our children. Our teachers use stories, arts & crafts, cooking, games, music and storytelling to convey the basic concepts and values of Judaism. In addition a few minutes of Hebrew will be taught in every class in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 2.
Beginning in third grade our students begin a more in-depth exploration of our Jewish identity. The students will learn about the rituals, values and ethics of Jewish living through the study of the stories in the Torah and Midrash. This is accomplished in an environment which engages the students in storytelling, roleplay, discussions, debates, and other modes of creative expression.
Our oldest students, in preparation for both Bar/Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation, also follow current events and contemporary issues as they relate to Judaism as a starting place for discussions.
Attendance at both Judaic Studies class and a certain number of Shabbat Services is required. Religious School Attendance Policies.
Torah Tots introduces children aged 2-4 to Judaism. Children, accompanied by parents or other family members, usually meet at 9:00 am on designated Sundays. We begin in the Sanctuary with a brief lesson and some music. Parents and children then go into another area for some sort of Jewish-related project and a snack. Any child who is NOT eligible for kindergarten in September of the following year is invited to come to Torah Tots. If your child is starting Kindergarten in September, he or she should enrol in our Preschool/Kindergarten class. We welcome all interested families – Temple affiliation is not required for Torah Tots. We look forward to seeing you! All are invited. Please contact the Temple office, 845 279-4585 to enroll your child. There is no fee for this program.
PK/K is the first class where children learn about their Jewish heritage. They practice saying the shema, kiddish, and hamotzi and learn all about the temple and the holidays. We strive to make them feel welcome and comfortable in our Jewish home.
First grade at Temple Beth Elohim offers your child a chance to learn about our wonderful culture, holidays, and prayers. We learn about each other through sharing ideas, crafts, prayer and stories that talk about the past triumphs of the strong men and woman, like Esther and Moses, who stepped forward to protect our sacred right to be Jewish. We learn how the courage of these role models and many others effects us even today. We discuss Jewish values and how it is important to remember our ancestors. We spend time thinking about how we see God’s work in our lives everyday, and we actually write weekly letters to God expressing our gratitude for something special that happened that week. We become aware of how special it is to be Jewish! We encourage our children to be curious, ask questions, and to be grateful for all that they have and to recognize how special they are as individuals.
We use the Chai Learning for Jewish Life Curriculum Core Level I as a base for the second grade. The curriculum incorporates stories of The Torah, Avodah -The Jewish Holidays and G’milut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness). I also use Let’s Learn About Jewish Holidays and Jewish Holiday Games for Little Hands. In addition, every month the teacher receives a book from PJ Library. try using games and lots of crafts to make the class more fun for the children.
Third-grade Judaic Studies is a celebration of community and our shared Jewish heritage. Children learn about Moses and Jonah as well as Tikkun Olam (repair the world) and B’tzelem Elohim (in G-d’s image). The holidays are explained and enjoyed with crafts, skits and songs throughout the year. Children make lasting connections to each other, their religious culture and their world.
The fourth grade follows the Chai Learning for Jewish Life Core Curriculum Level III. We talk about the Torah, Avodah and Gmilut Chasadim! Basically the class is all about morals. Additionally the children use the Chai: My Jewish Life journal Student Workbook for Level III Curriculum Core. And I have a copy of Torah: The Growing Gift from which we read stories every week or so if time is permits.
Fifth grade covers three units: The first unit covers the concepts of loving your neighbor as yourself or treating others as you’d like to be treated. We have hands-on demonstrations on what it feels like to be old and how to make new friends. The second unit is about the prayer service. We go over the different sections of the service with an emphasis on the Shema. During this unit, the students write their own silent prayer. The final unit is on Israel. We talk about the covenant between G-d and the Jewish people and discuss that Israel is the promised land. We do a map activity and have a day where Israeli citizens speak to the students about living in the Jewish Homeland.
The students also do a project every year. This project is a presentation on where to donate our tzedakah money. I ask that the students do a PowerPoint presentation or poster showing what the charity does and who it helps. I usually have the students pick a charity that has to do with Israel or our local community.
In the 6th grade, students expand on learning prayers and blessings. Specifically we focus on the Amidah and the Aleinu, Israel prayers and blessings and the Kaddish prayer. The primary goal of the curriculum for the 6th grade class is to help students discover the relationship between the regular practice of prayer and our actions in the everyday world. The students will investigate and discuss there relationship with G-d and prayer. There are also discussions about l earning Jewish Conversion, Tzedakah (charity), Jews-by-choice and honoring the dearly departed.
In the seventh grade students learn several bigger concepts with smaller sub-divisions. They learn about the Holocaust. They also learn about Jewish life cycle events: the celebration of birth and bar and bat mitzvah, the celebration of marriage and how we mourn the death of a loved one and the rituals that go along with these events.
In the lessons of acts of loving kindness (G’milut Chasidim), we learn about world issues, recycling and conserving energy, protecting the rainforests, care and protection of animals, peace, world hunger, the struggle for civil rights and learning to live with people that are different from us. We learn about the Torah service and how it was in ancient times and how it is put together now, the blessings and the role of the person who leads the service. Also we learn about the Haftarah and how it differs from the Torah. Then they learn about the last section of the Torah: the Writings (Ktuvim), Psalms, proverbs, Ruth, Esther (and a little about Purim) and Ecclesiastes.