Youth Education | Orlando Synagogues | Ohev Shalom Synagogue |
The Religious School curriculum focuses on Hebrew, Torah, Tefillah (prayer) and Judaica (Jewish life). A scope and sequence has been planned for each grade in each of these subjects. However, these plans serve only as guidelines: each class and teacher will move through the curriculum at an appropriate pace, and variation may occur.
Our Hebrew program emphasizes reading and understanding written Hebrew. We hope to give our students the skills to understand the vocabulary of the Torah and prayer. Spoken Hebrew is not emphasized, although it is incorporated into some units of study. Our primary goal for Hebrew study is for students to feel comfortable in the synagogue service and to be able to participate actively as adults.We begin teaching Hebrew in Gan (kindergarten) with letter recognition. In Kitah Alef (1st grade) students learn the sounds of the letters, the vowels and block print. By the end of the Alef year most students are able to decode one-syllable words. Kitah Bet (2nd grade) students continue to build on the skills of the Alef year with reading and writings skills. Kitah Gimel (3rd grade) students start to build vocabulary; learn basic grammar such as masculine and feminine, plural and singular; and investigate the shoresh (root) of common words. Students also begin to learn script handwriting.In Kitah Dalet (4th grade) we begin to see a broader range of skill levels, and as such the ability of the class dictates what is accomplished in the scope and sequence. Kitah Dalet students continue with reading fluency, grammar and vocabulary. Kitah Hay (5th grade) are introduced to more modern Hebrew with the study of Israel while still working on their reading fluency through prayer.
At the end of a student’s Jewish education at Ohev Shalom, students should be familiar with the Five Books of the Torah and the Prophets. The younger grades focus on the well-known stories and characters. In the older grades the study of Torah is an integral part of both the Hebrew and Judaica curricula, and students begin to take a more critical look at Torah.
The goal of our Tefillah program is to help students understand the importance and purposes of prayer. As students learn to chant the many beautiful prayers in our liturgy, they also learn their meanings and choreography as well as learn to lead prayers. The long-term goal is to create Jewish adults who are comfortable with services and can be active participants. Gan (kindergarten) studies the brachot (blessings) of Shabbat and Chanukah, the Four Questions of the Passover Seder, and the brachot before eating. Kitah Alef (1st) continues to build and expand knowledge of brachot. In Kitah Bet (2nd) the vocabulary of the Siddur is introduced, and the focus is on the “songs” of the Friday night service. In Kitah Gimel (3rd), students learn the Torah service and Havdallah (Saturday night service marking the end of Shabbat). Kitah Dalet (4th)through Kitah Zayeen (7th) learn the Shabbat morning and evening services. In addition to classroom instruction, Dalet and Hay students join in a “miniminyan” on Sunday mornings, which is a service using the Shabbat melodies. Kitah Gan-Gimel participates in Havdallah every Sunday morning.
The goals of our Judaica program are to teach different aspects of contemporary Jewish life and to make Judaism pertinent to our students’ lives. For definition purposes, “Judaica” refers to subjects that are not Hebrew. There are several components: Mitzvot (acts of kindness), Torah and Holidays.Every grade learns Mitzvot within the context of their particular curriculum. Throughout the school year different classes may participate in Tikun Olam projects such as visiting senior adults or doing a park clean up.For the 2009-2010 school year the teaching staff instituted the “Menschlekeit program” which is an emphasis on Jewish behavior /virtues or Middot in Hebrew. This is reflected not only in classroom learning but in the culture of the school and how we treat each other. The Holiday curriculum builds from one grade to the next. Each grade focuses on a particular aspect of the Jewish holidays. For example, in conjunction with Kitah Hay’s study of Israel, the students study how the holidays are celebrated in Israel. Kitah Zayeen studies the holidays from their sources in the Torah.
Kitah Vav and Kitah Zayeen
Kitah Vav/6th grade
Each morning will start with the entire 6th grade together discussing current events of the week and the Jewish perspective. This will be followed by Machlakah which is the reading fluency, recitation and understanding of the prayers. 6th grade focuses on the entire Torah service from start to finish, the Haftorah blessings, Ashrei, Kaddish Shalem. We stress the importance of the children understanding it and being able to read it, not recite it rote.
The second period of the day all three classes will study American Jewish history throughout the year. As Americans it is important to know our history and as Jews it is important to know that Jews were involved in every aspect of the creation and growth of our country. Below is a tentative outline of the year. Every 4-6 weeks, you the parents are invited to join your student for a roundtable Sicha with Rabbi Kay about a related topic of American Jewish History. Students will be randomly assigned their class to insure that they mix and meet new friends.
The third period each Sunday will focus on Jewish Values and behavior through Torah, text and other Jewish sources. All learning will be interactive and hands on. The first and third period classes will be with the same teacher and students. The second period will be different.
Wednesdays the entire Kitah Vav class will be together with two teachers and three Madrichim learning about Holidays, Parshat Hashavuah and Tefillah through hands on activity.
Kitah Zayeen/7th grade
Kitah Zayeen students start each Sunday by participating in Minyan. They are taught to put on Tefillin and participate in leading the service.
10-11 all year the Judaica topic will be Comparative Religion. If students understand the world around them they have a better understanding of themselves. Students will be divided evenly into three classes and they will be with that teacher the entire year. At the end of each unit of study parents are invited to attend at the end of the day with their student and participate in a Roundtable Sicha with Rabbi Kay and a member of the clergy of the faith that was just studied.
11:15-12:25 Students will be divided into a different group and have the same teacher all year to study the Portion of the Week and learn the weekday Minyan service so that they can start to lead Sunday Minyan. Other topics of course will be included.
On Sundays students will also have an opportunity to periodically report on what they are doing with their Bar/Bat Mitzvah project.
Wednesdays the focus is Hot Topics. The entire 7th grade learns and works together with two teachers and one Madricha. Judaism has a view on everything and we want our students to understand that Judaism can play a role in all aspects of their lives. Many of the topics were recommended by Rabbi Rubinger and Rabbi Kay. The structure is that after snack Rabbi Rubinger and Rabbi Kay take turns presenting the topic from the Jewish perspective from 4:30-5. At 5 p.m. there will be ice breaker activities to build community among the students. This will be followed by interactive activities and discussion that reinforce the topic. Specific types of learning methods and procedures will be incorporated into this part of the learning so that students will know the structure of what is expected. They will require team work, cooperation, listening and respect to be successful. Once a month, 7th grade will have music.
On the average of once a month students will go to local organizations and do volunteer work as their school day. We cannot teach enough the value of giving of ourselves and time. As students who are on their Bar/Bat Mitzvah year this is a big part of being a Jewish adult.
Special School Programs
Jewish education can take place in many ways; classroom learning is only one way. Throughout the year, each grade has special programs and activities to enhance education as well as include parents.Gan/K has a “Family Pajama Havdallah” where families learn about Havdallah and each family makes a “Shema Pillow.” Kitah Alef/1st celebrates Consecration. On this occasion the students are formally welcomed to their Jewish education and receive miniature Torahs. In preparation for the ceremony, families come together for a morning of learning the Sunday before. They study Jewish values through interactive activities and end the morning by making a wimpel for each student that is used for the ceremony. Kitah Bet/2nd has an annual Siyum (celebration) that features “The Luach with Ruach,” a program in which second grade families come together for a morning of interactive learning about the Jewish calendar. Families help to create the “Luach with Ruach Board Game” and the “Luach with Ruach Musical.” Kitah Gimel/3rd has a Siddur Dedication ceremony during which each child receives a Siddur (prayer book). In addition, a family park or beach cleanup may be planned to enhance study of the environment.The Dalet/4th and Hay/5th classes have a one night Shabbaton where they spend Shabbat through Havdallah together at a local camp. They pray together, share meals, and participate in informal learning around a chosen theme. The themes rotate between Kashrut and Jewish Life Cycles. There is also time for socializing and sports. Kitah Hay hosts an “Israeli Café” for parents for which students create the menu in Hebrew and serve the meal.Kitah Vav/6th and Kitah Zayeen/7th each have a two-night Shabbaton over a Friday and Saturday night at a camp. For these events, students celebrate Shabbat as if they were at a Jewish overnight camp. Participants lead services, help to set up and clean up from meals, learn together, and participate in recreational activities. In addition to the yearly programs that are planned for each grade, special learning opportunities present themselves each year that enhance the curriculum and excite the children’s zest for learning. Ohev Shalom has a large number of children who attend the Jewish Academy of Orlando. These students are not required to attend the Religious School in grades K-5 but are expected to attend on Sundays in grades 6 and 7. Jewish Academy of Orlando students and their families are encouraged to participate in all of the special programs that are offered.