The Judaic Studies program at Valley Beth Shalom Day School engenders a strong Jewish identity and spiritual growth that lays a foundation for a meaningful Jewish life. Judaism comes alive as students learn Torah and texts, modern Hebrew language, participate in Jewish rituals, prayer, holidays, and Tikkun Olam (acts of loving kindness), making a difference in the world.
Modern Hebrew Language
Hebrew as a second language is taught through an immersion approach beginning in Kindergarten. Students learn to read, write and speak Hebrew in a dynamic creative environment. The Tal Am and Haverim B Evreet
curricula and authentic Israeli Hebrew literature are utilized, as well as music, movement, drama, creative writing, poetry and art that make the Hebrew language come alive. Through differentiated learning instruction and small group instruction, various Hebrew speaking levels are addressed from beginning to fluent speakers.
Students experience the rhythm and cycle of Jewish life through text study and hands-on experiences. Students participate in an active Jewish life as part of a vibrant community celebrating Rosh Hodesh, Kabbalat Shabbat and holidays within the school and synagogue. The curriculum engages students in Jewish culture by learning about Jewish holidays, rituals, God in our lives, mitzvot, ethics and values, Israel, Jewish life cycle events, family history, Jewish heroes, kashrut and Judaism and the environment. The older students participate in a weekly Torah service.
Bible & Text
Students learn Torah through Hebrew text study with English instruction to encourage a personal connection with their heritage. A variety of teaching methods enable students to explore Jewish traditions, values and the world around them. Students experience a love of Judaism from Kindergarten through sixth grade through the following curriculum:
- Tal Am Torah curriculum
- Parashat Hashavuah (study of the weekly Torah Portion)
- Pirkei Avot (The wisdom of our ancestors from the oral tradition) taught in Sixth Grade
- Torah, with commentaries, is introduced in the upper grades
Students study prayer as a way to communicate with God; to express appreciation, hopes and desires. Prayer connects us with other Jews, and brings a community together. Students will become comfortable in the skills of reading, chanting, understanding key phrases, the structure of the siddur, and locating prayers in the siddur. Our students participate in prayer experiences and services, led by our rabbis, and often have opportunities to be prayer leaders. It is our hope that our students will find personal meaning in prayer, and that prayer will ultimately affect their actions.
The student will be able to:
- Read each prayer in the prayer curriculum
- Understand the basic concepts of each prayer
- Chant the prayers with the appropriate nusah, (prayer melody)
- Demonstrate an understanding of the geography of the prayer book
- Demonstrate the choreography of the prayers
- Know the appropriate blessing for each holiday and ritual occasion
- Demonstrate actions that are based on the core values embodied in the Siddur
- Show an appreciation for the miracle of life and for ordinary experiences in life