In kindergarten, students explore the big question, “What does it mean that I am Jewish?,” focusing on four central themes throughout the year: our TBS Makom (home), Torah, God, and their Jewish Shem (Name). This year is filled with Torah and sanctuary visits, asking big questions and using big imaginations to think about God, and getting to know the objects and people that make TBS our special Jewish home. In partnership with our families, students complete a Shem project, which culminates in the Simchat Shemot, a community-wide celebration of names.
This year, as a continuation of exploring “What does it mean that I am Jewish?,” students spend the year learning about Z’manim (Times), and the cycles of Jewish time that we observe and celebrate. In addition to our weekly celebrations of Shabbat and yearly holiday celebrations, students learn about our connection to Israel and how many of our rituals are connected to the land there.
Focusing on “What does it mean that I am part of the Jewish family?,” second graders learn stories of the Great Torah Family, beginning with Abraham and Sarah as the first Jewish people and continuing through the story of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt. These stories are shared by Jewish people throughout time and across the world, and also are ours to share, interpret and tell to each other.
Continuing to think about “What does it mean that I am part of the Jewish family?,” this year explores the Wisdom of our Ancestors, with the central text: If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Pirkei Avot 1:14) Our Jewish values come from our shared Jewish ancestors, who encourage us to be for ourselves, be for others, and act now.
In exploring “What does it mean that I am part of the Jewish people?,” fourth graders learn stories of Jewish History, beginning with the stories of Abraham and Sarah and continuing through today, as we are also part of the Jewish people and story. These adventures across time and space open a window into where our families, rituals, stories and symbols come from and enable us to learn about ourselves and our present.
In fifth grade, students continue the exploration of “What does it mean that I am part of the Jewish people?,” with two central themes: our prayer liturgy and the Jewish value of tzedakah (justice). The text of our siddur gives us shared language and imagery that are jumping off points for experience, conversation, and interpretation. Shared Jewish experience also calls on us to act to make the world a more just and kind place, which guides our fifth grade Tzedakah Project.