Welcome to the 5772 Riverdale Temple Religious School Year!
This year we have modified our curriculum to communicate more clearly to our children the basics of Judaism in general, and the specific commitments of Reform Judaism as the earliest religious response to the modern age.
Students who complete our entire program will understand:
· The basic concepts and values of each holiday and life-cycle ceremony and the rituals that accompany it.
· The major events of Jewish history from the Bible to today.
· The values that define modern Judaism and how they have evolved from biblical times.
· What it means to be a Reform Jew today, and how to make responsible Jewish choices about how to observe mitzvoth.
· How to read any printed, vocalized Hebrew text, and what basic words and phrases mean.
Grades K-3: Holidays, Life-Cycle Ceremonies, Rituals and Traditions, and Hebrew Letter Recognition
Our youngest students will be exploring the biblical and rabbinic stories behind our holidays through the creative arts; drama, music, poetry, sculpture, etc. They will learn the central values related to each holiday through experiential exercises and projects (e.g. for Sukkot — thanksgiving, hospitality, sharing). They will also practice the blessings and songs that go along with the various rituals (e.g. waving the lulav and etrog). As students are ready, Hebrew letters will be introduced into the class so that the students begin to recognize the Hebrew words for the holidays they are studying. Please remember; the most important holiday of the Jewish year is Shabbat — even more important than Yom Kippur! The best way to offer your children a “hands-on” Jewish education is by celebrating Shabbat at home (you have 52 weeks a year to experiment with what works for your family) and by attending Shabbat services whenever you can. Students are expected to attend a number of Shabbat morning services equal to their grade in school. We hope, however, that you will consider services a pleasure rather than a requirement. Even our youngest students often have insights of great value to add to our Torah discussion, and our services are lively and participatory. Services start at 10:30 am throughout the school year. (10:00 during the summer).
Grades 4-5: Jewish Life in Home and Synagogue
This year, the additional day for Hebrew Studies is optional for our third graders, but is a requirement for all students in fourth grade and up who intend to celebrate a bar or bat mitzvah ceremony at Riverdale Temple — unless they are attending a Hebrew Day School (e.g. Kinneret, Heschel, Schechter) which offers them a Hebrew and Judaic studies background. (We are offering a special program for such students in 6th and 7th grade — see below).
Students will learn or review the entire Hebrew alphabet and begin gaining fluency in Hebrew prayer. By the end of 5th grade students should be able to read all the passages recited during a Sabbath morning service, and all the home blessings (Shabbat Kiddush, candle blessings, etc.). They will also learn to recognize key phrases in the prayers (e.g. “ruler of the universe,” “who brought us out of the land of Egypt,” “who sanctified us,” etc.).
The Judaics portion of the class will focus on rituals in the home and the synagogue. Students will learn about sacred objects (e.g. mezuzah, tefillin, Torah, megillah, bimah, etc.) and prayers and rituals associated with them. Particular attention will be paid to the Sabbath and both its home and synagogue rituals and services. The class will also introduce students to the structure of individual Hebrew prayers, and the structure of the worship service as a whole. Shabbat service attendance is extremely helpful!
Grades 6 & 7: Mitzvah and Tikkun Olam (Commandment and Repairing the World)
This program is new to Riverdale Temple and a requirement for all students wishing to celebrate a bar or bat mitzvah ceremony as a member of our congregation. The program will involve each student selecting a community service project to perform throughout the year. The instructor will assist the students in choosing and setting up their individual projects. Once all the students have planned their initiatives, the class will exam the Jewish values and commandments being observed in the course of performing community service. They will study relevant texts from our tradition, and discuss how they are fulfilling these moral and ethical obligations. In addition to gaining a much broader perspective of what it means to observe a "mitzvah," the stdents will also examine how their community efforts affect themselves. We guarantee that all the students will discover transformations taking place in their own lives and perspectives as they reach out to assist others in our community.
All students preparing to observe a bar or bat mitzvah ceremony will begin receiving individual tutoring at least six months prior to their date. Students who do not attend a Hebrew day school must have at least two years of Hebrew instruction at Riverdale Temple or its equivalent elsewhere before they can begin individual instruction.
High School and Youth Group Program
All post-b’nai mitzvah members of Riverdale Temple are eligible to participate in our High School and Youth Group program. This program combines social activities with Jewish studies that are relevant to the actual life experiences of our teenagers. “Real-time” ethical issues will be discussed in the context of rabbinic opinions and modern Jewish life. The group will also plan social events of their choice (e.g. bowling, apple-picking, etc.) which will be supervised by the High School/Youth Group advisor.
Students who participate in the High School program for a minimum of two years will be eligible to celebrate Confirmation at the end of tenth grade. Students who continue through their senior year will celebrate their graduation during the Confirmation Service — this year, on Friday, June 3rd.