Kindergarten through High School students are expected to regularly attend Shabbat morning services. Shabbat is a time that allows us to build community, learn prayers, and become more comfortable in services. Gan Shabbat for families in K-2nd grade occurs just prior to Yachad class, on Saturday and is part of the Yachad learning and community experience. Sanctuary attendance for families in grades 3rd-6th occurs just prior to classes and is also part of the Yachad learning and community building experience. Attendance at Shabbat services is extremely important in the years leading up to a child’s B’nei Mitzvah. Students in 2nd – 8th grade who do not attend Yachad classes on Saturday are required to attend a minimum of seven Shabbat services throughout the year. There is also a monthly Yachad kiddush following services.
Lower School: Kindergarten – 2nd Grade
We start with our family and our most familiar spaces and artifacts and connect them to our Jewish spaces and artifacts. We look at the Jewish holidays through their most concrete symbols and connect them to our lives: Rosh Hashanah and starting new things, Yom Kippur and making mistakes, Sukkot and welcoming guests, Simchat Torah and stories we love, Hanukkah and finding light in hard times, Tu B’Shvat and the ways we can take good care of the earth, Purim & Passover and the ways we can stand up for what’s right, Yom Ha’Atzmaut and places that are special to us, Shavuot and the end of one story/part of the year and the start of another story.
We move into more of the “why” of our Jewish holidays and rituals. We look at holidays and rituals through the lens of “beginning”: what’s it like to start something new and what do we need when we start new things? How do we take responsibility for something that is new to us? A central theme of first grade is Tzedakah
(Justice). We’ll think about large and small scale ways our Jewish values can help us create a more just and fair world. And we of course focus on the beginning of the Jewish year, the Jewish life cycle, the Torah, the Jewish people, and modern Israel. A central theme of first grade is tzedakah
(“justice”). We’ll think about large and small scale ways our Jewish values can help us create a more just and fair world.
We begin to think about kehilah
/community both physically (CBE) and temporally (l’dor v’dor
/from generation to generation) more. We talk about the expectation or mitzvot
that motivate our community, that our community involves itself in. What have our families and communities passed on to us, where are we in the chain of stories, how do we find some of our current 2nd grade questions, hopes, and struggles in the ancient Torah stories that belong to us?
Upper Elementary: 3rd – 5th Grade
Throughout the year, 3rd grade students follow the Jewish calendar as they experientially learn about the different holidays from Rosh Hashanah through Shavuot. By taking a deeper look into the holidays’ meanings, traditions around the world and throughout history, students think of ways they are each excited to integrate Jewish learning into their own lives. As part of making Judaism their own, 3rd grade families attend a special Mishkan T’filah siddur
celebration at the start of the year. This ceremony marks a unique moment in 3rd graders’ Jewish journey of personal connection and meaning making of tefilla
(prayer). Students also learn about the Jewish lifecycle (naming, b’nei mitzvah, conversion, weddings, and funerals) and the various rituals, traditions, and prayers associated with various stages and milestones. We celebrate, mid-year, with a special mock life cycle event that students prepare after in-depth study.
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 Restorative Justice Circle with Pharaoh, Moses and other characters in the Passover story, in which students allow everyone in the story to be heard and collaborate on ways to repair the harm committed using the principles of mitzvot. 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.
Middle School: 6th – 8th Grade
6th grade at Yachad is a journey through Modern Jewish History. We learn how the events of the 19th and 20th centuries impacted Jewish communities in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Students place themselves in these stories by interviewing older family members and presenting their work to our class. The tumult of the last centuries have created the Jewish communities we live in today. In this way, we also learn about ourselves!
In 7th grade, students continue preparing for b’nei mitzvah and join together each week for time as a community. Seventh graders at Yachad have three blocks each week: Tikkun Olam, Tefillah and Electives.
In Tikkun Olam, students will choose a social justice topic to focus on for the year. Throughout the year, they will learn about that topic in depth and also complete service projects related to that topic. The topics last year were: Dismantle White Supremacy, Combat Climate Change, End Hunger, Gun Control Now, Defend Refugees and Immigrants, and Stand Up for the Differently Abled.
In T’filah, students practice the choreography, prayers and skills involved in receiving an aliyah to the Torah and chanting trope.
In Electives, students will get to choose a different elective each trimester to learn about an aspect of Judaism that they are interested in. Electives offered this year included: Jewish Cooking, Jewish Pop Culture, Holocaust Studies (continuation from 6th grade), Jewish Arts & Crafts, Judaism & Sports, Girls’ Group, Boys’ Group, LGBTQ+ Group, Torah Study and Jewish Meditation.
Additionally, throughout the year, students will continue their b’nei mitzvah experience as a community in partnership with parents, teachers and clergy. Over the course of the year, there will be several Moving Traditions classes for the seventh graders including a couple of family sessions where parents/guardians are encouraged to join.
Overall, seventh grade at Yachad is a lot fun and we are so excited to continue your Yachad journey with you during this important year!
In 8th grade students explore the many dimensions of modern Israel/Palestine as American Jews through historical, cultural and political lenses. Using multiple narratives, music, film, food, and primary documents students engage in the deep, complex questions that modern Israel/Palestine 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/Palestine and reflecting on their personal relationship with the country as Reform American Jews in the 21st century.
8th grade students also have several add-on programs at their disposal. More information can be found here.