The theme of the kindergarten year is My Jewish Family. The curriculum addresses these essential questions: What is my Jewish family? How can I act in ways to be part of my Jewish family and to make my Jewish family proud of me? Throughout the year, students are introduced to their Torah ancestors and modern figures who are part of the greater Jewish family. This helps them understand themselves as part of the great chain of Jewish families that connect back throughout the ages. Using the Torah stories as their guide, students explore how our ancestors were guided by positive Jewish values. With each Torah story, students also learn a Jewish value. They practice this value through activities and play, and work to explore the value with each other, their teacher, and their families. We also focus on Jewish holidays and Shabbat. As children learn about holidays, they share how their own families celebrate these holidays, and learn about ways that others celebrate. All the families come together for experiences at CBE and in our homes. We hope that our Jewish Learning Through Living curriculum brings Jewish learning to life at home.
1st grade at Yachad focuses on learning about and exploring Jewish identity. Students examine Jewish kehillot (communities) both in the Torah and in their current lives. They also learn the similarities and differences of how Jews all around the world celebrate Jewish holidays.
In 2nd grade, the students begin the year by discussing what being Jewish means to them. There is emphasis on the importance of mitzvot (deeds) and the students are often asked what mitzvot they did throughout the previous week. They are introduced to the letters in the aleph-bet (Hebrew alphabet) and work throughout the year on their Hebrew reading and writing skills. They learn to differentiate between the letters that look alike, and are introduced to Hebrew vowels. In their Torah unit, students learn about the ritual of reading from the Torah, including the steps to a Torah service. In the second half of the year, they study the stories and people in the books of Genesis and Exodus.
Throughout the year, third grade students follow the Jewish calendar as they experientially learn about the different holidays from Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to Purim and Passover, as well as Shabbat and Havdalah. By taking a deeper look into the holidays’ meanings, traditions, and prayers, students are able to learn about each holiday before they occur encouraging their own families to partake in celebrating at home. Third graders also learn about the Jewish lifecycle and the various rituals, traditions and prayers associated with various stages and milestones. At the start of the year families join in their third grader receiving their Mishkan Tefillah siddur, a celebratory moment in their Jewish journey.
4th grade centers around major themes and stories from the five books of Torah. Students become familiar with significant figures, stories and questions and explore how they are reflected in the world today and how they themselves are reflected in the stories. Students engage in drama, art, film, song and many more hands on styles to internalize the stories and translate meaning from the ancient text.
The focus of 5th grade is Jewish leadership and heroism with the goal that students will learn the importance of related themes and figures in biblical and modern Jewish History. Students will come to see how they can become leaders and heroes in their own communities.They explore many topics through this lens, including mitzvot, biblical and modern Jewish figures in Israel and the Diaspora. One of the many exciting projects 5th graders experience is a mock trial between Jacob and Esau, in which students grapple with the relationship between right and wrong and explore origin stories of leadership in the Torah. Students wrap up the year with a ceremony in which the are joined by their families to receive their chumashim as preparation for b’nei mitzvah.
In 6th grade students explore major topics and themes in modern Jewish history and reflect on what they feel is calls them to do in their world today. Major segments of the curriculum come from Facing History
: “Through rigorous historical analysis combined with the study of human behavior, Facing History’s approach heightens students’ understanding of racism, religious intolerance, and prejudice; increases students’ ability to relate history to their own lives; and promotes greater understanding of their roles and responsibilities in a democracy.” Students also begin to prepare for the b’nei mitzvah experience as a community in partnership with parents, teachers and clergy. The experience includes an overnight retreat as well as the Moving Traditions B’nei Mitzvah Program
, in which their “ unique informal education model [is applied] to the social realities of sixth and seventh graders and their parents.”
In 7th grade students continue preparing for b’nai mitzvah and join together each week for time as a community. Students spend time reflecting on issues important to them as teenagers in this day and age. Topics come from the students themselves and may range from reactions to current events and friendship challenges to philosophical questions about their place in the world. During this time they will explore these questions through ancient and modern Jewish wisdom.
Students will also spend time exploring Tikkun Olam and ancient Mitzvot (personal & communal) for relevance as 7th graders in Brooklyn in the 21st century.
As part of their preparation to be full-fledged members of communal tefilla/prayer students explore meaning & purpose of prayers as well as the choreography and skills involved in receiving an aliya to the Torah and chanting trope.
This year students continue their b’nei mitzvah experience as a community in partnership with parents, teachers and clergy. Continuing family education that began during our 6th grade Family Retreat with the Moving Traditions B’nei Mitzvah Program, in which their “unique informal education model [is applied] to the social realities of sixth and seventh graders and their parents.”
In 8th grade students explore the many dimensions of modern Israel as modern American Jewish life through historical, cultural and political lenses. Using first person narratives, music, film, food, primary documents and more students engage in the deep, complex questions that Israel presents. Students travel to Israel together over the February break for a 10-day trip with American and Israeli educators where the get to explore the landscape firsthand and form strong bonds with their class community. Upon return to Brooklyn, students continue their deep dive into learning about Israel and reflecting on their personal relationship with the country as Reform American Jews in the 21st century.