Temple Beth-El believes children must be equipped with the knowledge of the Hebrew language, which is indispensable for a full appreciation of the spirit of the Jewish people and Israel. Our curriculum enables students to:
- Develop familiarity with the sound of the Hebrew language through listening, speaking, singing and decoding
- Recognize that Hebrew is the language of prayer and the Bible, and is therefore, a holy language
- Recognize that Hebrew is also a living language spoken every day in the land of Israel
- Develop the ability to decode Hebrew accurately
- Develop a basic sight word vocabulary of words used most commonly in Shabbat and holiday worship
- Develop an understanding of the connection between the knowledge gained in Hebrew studies and the application of that knowledge, not only for b’nai mitzvah, but for a lifetime as a Jewish adult
- Participate proficiently and comfortably in a synagogue setting
Students in Kindergarten- 1st grade are exposed to a “Hebrew letter of the Week” every time they come to religious school. Coloring pages, which are thematically linked to the lesson of the week, are available when students walk in the classroom each morning. Students might learn the letter shin when learning about Shabbat or the letter lamed when learning about the lulav shaken on the holiday of sukkot.
2nd graders are also exposed to a Hebrew letter each week, this time connected to one of the biblical characters they are studying. It may be a resh for Rachel or a mem for Moses. The 2nd grade textbook is one of three corresponding books, the other two used in our third grade classroom.
Integrated Hebrew Learning
In our 3rd-5th grade classrooms, we use an integrated approach to Hebrew learning. Instead of focusing on Judaic studies on one day and Hebrew on another like many religious schools, at Temple Beth El, our students learn both subjects on both days. Research shows that exposure to a foreign language on multiple days allows a learner to progress more quickly and retain knowledge better. Additionally, this approach allows our teachers to reinforce the Judaic lessons with Hebrew knowledge.
In the third grade, students learn to decode using the Hebrew letters and vowel sounds they acquire this year. By the end of this year, students are able to read simple Hebrew prayers such as the sh’ma and Shabbat table blessings.
4th-6th grades are devoted to mastering the prayer service –both its words and melodies, and its meaning. In 6th grade students also learn trope –the musical notations used for chanting Torah and haftarah.
Students in kindergarten through 7th grades attend prayer services weekly.