Many of the Pre-school graduates and their parents, as well as other families in the community, desired to be educated in Jewish history and culture. Prior to the Hebrew School’s founding, two years of curriculum research by a parent committee took place to begin a Hebrew school four years ago.
The Hebrew School began in the 5764 (2003/4) academic year with a Shabbat children’s service and Hebrew lessons. Now in its fifth year, the Hebrew School meets on Saturday mornings. There is also a Thursday class for the older children to develop writing and reading skills. The school also sponsors many Holiday events including Chanukah and Purim Parties as well as Tu b’shevat and Passover Seders.
Kesher Israel has always been a Traditional Congregation borrowing its style and customs from orthodox and conservative Judaism. Because of this, the Hebrew school’s curriculum utilizes orthodox and conservative styles of education. Classes on Saturday (Shabbat) are geared for children aged 5 and up, who are mature and ready to learn. It is academic in nature and aims to educate and challenge students. On Shabbat the sessions cover the following:
1) Shabbat topics: Jewish culture and prayer relating to Shabbat, as well as other Prayers and Blessings.
2) Hebrew topics: Proficiency of the Hebrew alphabet (aleph bet.) Songs and common vocabulary words are taught. Numbers and days of the week are also covered. Thursdays are devoted to developing Hebrew print writing.
3) Torah/History: Storytelling and games cover topics relating to the weekly portion and to our history. The weekly Torah portion covers history from the time of Abraham until the time of Kings. We also add Greek, Roman, European, and finally, in the spring, modern Israeli history to end the year.
4) Modern Israel: This topic covers Modern Jewish history and current events. We will learn about 19th and 20th century Anti-Semitism leading up to the founding of Zionism, the Dreyfus affair, early aliyahs, and the Wars of Independence, attrition, etc.
Note: The format of the Saturday session is that of a service. The students become accustomed to the Shabbat service, prayers and songs.
Our Thursday curriculum adds Hebrew writing, additional Torah and Holiday education. This curriculum has a more advanced academic component for more mature children (ages 6 and up). In addition, the Rabbi works on specific Torah and cultural lessons. We learn Jewish life cycles (this delves into family, and has culminated in a final project of producing family trees in Hebrew.)
Homework is given for both sessions, but it is in a fun, stimulating format and usually takes no longer than 20 minutes per week to complete.
A full syllabus of all sessions and holiday events will be handed out on the first day of class in September. The Saturday class will meet at 9:30am-11:30am. Students and families are welcome to stay through the end of the service at 11:30 and also partake of the Kiddush luncheon immediately following Services. At approximately 11:15 am each Shabbat, the children lead the congregation in song from our bema. Our Thursday class will meet from 5:15pm-6:30pm. Handouts and newsletters will be distributed weekly to keep parents and children informed of upcoming events or changes in the syllabus or schedule. Homework assignments will also be distributed to the students and are due the following week.
If you are interested in enrollment, or have any questions, you may contact, or e-mail DR. LOUIS MARION, our education director at LRMARION@excite.com or the Synagogue office at (215) 922-1776.