Curriculum

UJS Curriculum (2020-2021)

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GAN KATAN (PRE-PRE KINDERGARTEN)

Goals:  Introduce students to the concept of “What is Jewish”.  

Objectives: The students will: 

1.  know the basic Jewish signs and symbols – where they are seen in our congregations and in our community and how they connect us as Jews.  

2.  celebrate the Jewish holidays as they occur, their sounds, sights, smells, tastes and textures.  This class will be held as a parent-child class with parents learning along with their child to help integrate learning into home participation.

Structure: One hour class with parent/guardian every Sunday

PRE-KINDERGARTEN

Goals:  Understand the concept of “being Jewish” and having a Jewish identity – develop a connection to the Temple/Synagogue and Religious School.

Objectives: The students will:

  1. using the Shalom Sesame curriculum:  be introduced to customs, ceremonies, symbols and foods of Shabbat and the Jewish holidays. 
  2. be involved in playful activities which will introduce them to the Mitzvot that every Jewish child is expected to fulfill, including honoring your parents, telling the truth, and returning lost property.
  3. Using Aleph Bet Yoga: recognize and demonstrate the Hebrew alphabet.

Structure: Service, 1½ hour core class, music at least once a month, and Hebrew weekly.

KINDERGARTEN

Goals:  Continue building the foundations of Jewish life and practice by exploring the integral role Judaism plays in their lives.  

Objectives: The students will:

  1. identify the basic symbols of Jewish life and identify when and where they are used.
  2. recognize the ritual items at home and in the synagogue associated with Shabbat and holidays, and identify their purpose.
  3. recite in Hebrew the Shema, Motzi, Kiddush, Shabbat candle blessing, and Modeh Ani,
  4. begin identifying Hebrew letters and basic Hebrew vocabulary
  5. participate in holiday rituals as holidays occur in the cycle of the year with a focus on Shabbat
  6. identify Biblical and post-Biblical characters as they occur in the cycle of the year, and their connection with mitzvoth.
  7. demonstrate a basic understanding of Tzedakah and Mitzvot, and become active participants.

Structure: Service, 1½ hour core class, ½ hour Hebrew, ½ hour music at least once a month

Grades 1 through 7 will be using the CHAI curriculum, developed by the Union for Reform Judaism, and adapated by Rabbi Krishef to include the Conservative traditions.  Each core level contains lessons, developed by master educators, in the areas of Torah (Bible), Avodah (prayer), and G’milut chasadim (acts of loving kindness) that are connected by a thematic strand.  The CHAI lessons follow a curriculum model known as “Understanding by Design” (UbD), ensuring that student learning will go beyond the specific classroom activities and will reach a deeper Enduring understanding – the concepts that provide the foundation for a lifetime of Jewish learning and living.  Mitkadem is a self-paced Hebrew program that not only teaches decoding skills (reading), but vocabulary, grammar, and reading comprehension.  Each student advances at their own pace and must successfully pass a test before progressing to the next level.

First Grade

Enduring Understandings: My Jewish acts help me discover the beauty and order of sacred time and my place in the Jewish story

Objectives: The students will: 

  1. discover through B’reishit (Genesis), that they are part of the ongoing story of Torah and the Jewish people.
  2. develop a sense of beauty and order of sacred time through Avodah
  3. become Mitzvah Heroes when they perform acts of g’milut chasadim
  4. learn basic Hebrew vocabulary and be able to recall the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet

Structure: Service, 1½ hour Chai class, ½ hour Hebrew, ½ hour music at least once a month

Second Grade

Enduring Understandings: Studying Torah can teach us important lessons about how God wants us to live.  

Objectives:  The students will:

  1. discover through Shemot (Exodus) that Torah teaches us how to be part of the Jewish people.
  2. understand that Jewish celebrations and rituals help us express our relationship with God.
  3. learn that we can make the world a better place by performing g’milut chasadim – acts of loving kindness in our everyday lives.
  4. develop basic reading skills by starting Mitkadem, the Hebrew reading program

Structure: Service, 1½ hour Chai class, ½ hour Hebrew, ½ hour music at least once a month.

Third Grade

Enduring Understandings: The laws and rules found in the Torah can help us to live a life filled with holy moments. 

Objectives:  The students will:

  1. understand how the laws and rules in Vayikra (Leviticus) can help us to live a life filled with holy moments
  2. discover that through Avodah we can make our lives and the world more kadosh-holy 
  3. appreciate that each individual act of  g’milut chasadim can make the world kadosh
  4. continue to develop Hebrew reading skills through Mitkadem 

Structure: 1 hour Hebrew every week, 1 hour Chai each week, ½ hour music at least once a month.  Additional 1 1/2 hour of Hebrew on Wednesday at Midweek Hebrew

Fourth Grade

Enduring Understandings:  We made a “brit” (covenant) with God to be a Holy People.  We learn from our ancestors so that we can continue the tradition of holiness.

Objectives:  The students will:

  1. Understand that the promise of a Holy Land-Eretz Israel, as learned in B’midbar (Numbers), and D’varim (Deuteronomy) comes with the responsibility to work toward becoming holy. 
  2. appreciate the importance of praying with Kavanah (intention), and understand the reason for Keva (fixed prayer), which together help us make sacred connections. 
  3. relate how our acts of g’milut chasadim affect people we encounter in our daily lives.
  4. continue to develop Hebrew reading skills and understanding through the Mitkadem curriculum

Structure: 1 hour Hebrew every week, 1 hour Chai each week, ½ hour music at least once a month.  Additional 1 1/2 hour of Hebrew on Wednesday at Midweek Hebrew

Fifth Grade

Enduring Understanding: We can all make a difference in the lives of others. We need to develop a sense of who we are and what we can achieve.   

Objectives: The students will:

  1. understand that the words and messages of the Prophets in Nevi’im remind us how God wants us to live 
  2. discover that prayer will lead to personal reflection and can strengthen our relationships to community and God 
  3. develop a responsibility to support and sustain the Jewish community- K’lal Yisrael
  4. continue to develop Hebrew reading skills and understanding through the Mitkadem curriculum

Structure:  1 hour Hebrew every week, 1 hour Chai each week, ½ hour music every other week.  Additional 1 1/2 hour of Hebrew on Wednesday at Midweek Hebrew.

Sixth Grade

Enduring Understanding Exploring our personal and communal role in Revelation, we find sacred connections to God, community and self.

Objectives:  The students will:

  • apply wisdom from the K’tuvim-Writings, to issues in their lives and in the world. 
  • understand what it means to stand at Mount Sinai, and the responsibility that accompanies it.
  • learn from Jewish sources about their responsibility to protect nature and the environment, help those in need, and care for animals. 
  • Continue to develop Hebrew reading skills and understanding through the Mitkadem curriculum.

Structure: 1 hour Hebrew every week, 1 hour Chai each week, ½ hour of enrichment weekly.

Additional 1 1/2 hour of Hebrew on Wednesday at Midweek Hebrew.

Seventh Grade

Enduring Understanding:

Our development as emerging Jewish adults is closely linked to our ethical behavior (middot) and the performance of acts of g’milut chasadim.

Objectives:  The students will:

  • develop a personal sense of Jewish identity through Torah and prayer 
  • apply Jewish ethical behavior (middot) and gimilut chasadim to become Jewish adults and members of the community
  • investigate the significance and customs of Jewish lifestyle events
  • explore issues that teens face in daily lives using debate and role play

Structure:   1-2 hours of Chai curriculum incorporating discussion, participation in mitzvah projects, 1 hour of active participation in curriculum involved in current issues facing Jewish teens.  Optional for Temple students: Additional 1 1/2 hour of study on Wednesday at Midweek Hebrew.

Eighth Grade:

Objectives:  The students will: 

  • discover the journey of the Jewish people including Sephardic development and traditions, introduction to Yiddish, traditional foods, dance and music  
  • evaluate the concepts of bigotry and prejudice and investigate the historical events that led to the Holocaust
  • gain an understanding of the events that led to the Holocaust, with a visit to the Holocaust museum to reinforce their learning experience
  • develop social action projects to help them understand their personal responsibility of Gimilut Chasadim. 

Structure:  2 hours of instruction and discussion with ½ hour of enrichment.

Ninth Grade

Core 1:  Israel – The students will develop an understanding of the significance of the Jewish state of Israel.  It will enable our children to have an educated discussion, to defend the Jewish position, and to develop a connection with Israel.  We will be using a newly developed curriculum called the David Project.    

Core 2:  Students will examine Jewish immigration to America and its influence in our lives using the art of photography.  We will use a curriculum called “The Jewish Lens” which focuses on Jewish values and Jewish communities worldwide through photography.  Each student will develop a sense of Jewish identity using their own photograph to tell their story.  Students in ninth grade travel to New York City and are introduced to Jewish immigration and culture.

Structure:  there will be a two hour core class, ½ hour social time

Tenth Grade

The students will be introduced to World religions – the basic beliefs and practices. The students will be able to analyze and compare the similarities and differences between each religion and Judaism, in an effort to help develop understanding and tolerance.  Students will visit different local congregations – Hindu, Moslem and Christian, to meet with religious leaders and observe different  rituals and traditions.   

During the second semester the students will focus on the questions that teenagers often have about Jewish life, reading articles from a variety of texts as a way to begin conversations. 

Can I be Jewish and not believe in God?  Why do we not believe in the Messiah?  Why do some people hate Jews?  Do Jews believe in heaven?  Do we have a soul? Is the Torah true?  Are we a religion or a nation or a people?  Why should I care about Israel?  Do I have free will?  If there is a God why is there so much suffering in the world?  What is the meaning of life?  Does prayer work?  Why should I care about being Jewish?  

Structure:  there will be a two hour core class, ½ hour social time

March thru end of Year

Tenth grade students will have separate tracks with their own congregation to prepare for Confirmation.

11TH AND 12TH GRADE CLASSTIME AND MADRICHIM PROGRAM

During the first semester the 11th and 12th grade students will learn incorporate the Jewish Rock Radio curriculum to connect Torah, prayer and Gimilut Chasadim to Jewish Rock.   The will write and perform their own music to develop a personal connection.  

During the second semester the students will use the Packing for College curriculum. Packing for College can transform a time of tension and dissention into a time of exploration and communication; it can help make the transition period between high school and college a part of the life cycle of families  . “…by sharing with them this experience, we can fortify them with Jewish wisdom before they go on their way.”

— Rabbi Eric Yoffie

Students will also have the opportunity to visit Hillel at MSU and visit with other Jewish youth in the Chicago area during a weekend trip.  

Structure: The class will meet for 1 to 1½ hours every week, studying and socializing. During the second half of the day they will have the opportunity to work as an aide in the classrooms of younger students.  

As a theme for our school this year we will focus on Middot – Jewish values, and how we can all put them into actions.  Each month we will focus on a different value.  The students will work with their teacher, classmates and occasionally family, to learn about each value, and develop an action plan to “Walk the Talk.   

The Hebrew Curriculum: Texts and Objectives

  • Pre-K, K, and 1. Letters aurally, a word or two or three with each letter. 
  • 2nd grade. “Phonetic Hebrew Decoding.” Learning letters, selected vowels, and short letter combinations. 
  • 3rd grade. Torah Aura “Tiyulim.” Practice combining letters into words.  
  • 4th grade. “Z’man Likro.” Reading fluency, increasing vocabulary.  Siddur curriculum: Shema, Bar’chu, Ma Nishtana, En Keiloheinu, modeh ani, Mi Khamokha, oseh Shalom. 
  • 5th grade. Behrman House “Harmony in Hebrew.” Fluency in reading unfamiliar words, Siddur curriculum: Birkot Hatorah, Avot V’imahot, V’ahavta, Aleinu. 
  • 6th grade. Behrman House “Harmony in Hebrew.” Fluency in reading prayers, Siddur curriculum: G’vurot, haftarah berakhot, Kedushah, Yotzer Or. 
  • 7th grade. Wednesday Hebrew program, Siddur Hebrew/Haftarah practice. 
  • Supplemental prayer list for Early Sunday or Wednesday Hebrew:
    • Al Shelosha D’varim
    • Eitz Hayim Hee
    • Tallit Berakha
    • Candle-lighting Berakha
    • V’Shamru
    • Ein Kamokha (Torah service)
    • Vayehi Binsoa
    • L’kha Adonai
    • Kaddish
    • Adon Olam
    • Kiddush
    • Ma’ariv Aravim