Under the leadership of Director of Congregational Learning, Me'ir Sherer, Temple Emunah's Kindergarten through Seventh Grade program strives to create a nurturing atmosphere where children and their families deepen their commitment to Jewish learning and living. Through rich experiences in formal and informal settings our students develop confident Jewish identities and build a foundation for life-long learning and dedication to the Jewish community locally, in Israel and around the world.
Our focus is on the whole Jewish child and teen, preparing him/her to be engaged participants in Jewish life. To this end, we provide opportunities to: learn Hebrew, which will be used to participate in and lead services; learn about Jewish Culture, including Israeli Folk Dancing and Jewish and Israeli Song, study Jewish history, learn about and engage with the modern State of Israel, study Jewish text (including Torah) and learn about and celebrate Jewish holidays. All of this through the lens of Conservative Movement ideology.
Theologian and philosopher, Abraham Joshua Heschel stated, "What we need more than anything else is not textbooks but textpeople. It is the personality of the teacher which is the text that the pupils read; the text that they will never forget." According to educator, Joseph Schwab, "robust learning necessarily involves teachers thinking about how they might draw their students into an interpersonal connection, for that connection builds the foundation of a learning relationship. The moment I realized my students were more interested in me than the subject, I discovered the way in which I could make this fact a stepping stone, rather than a stumbling block."
Temple Emunah takes great pride in the educators who make up their Kindergarten through Seventh Grade program faculty. These individuals come to us with backgrounds in education, experience, a passion for Judaism and a willingness to share themselves with their students. For information on our current faculty, click here.
All children in kindergarten through seventh grade participate in our Sunday morning program. Mornings include time for shira (song) or rikud (Israeli folk dancing) for children in kindergarten through sixth grade.
In addition to Sunday mornings, children in third through seventh grade participate in our program on either Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday afternoon/evening. These times include a t'fillah (prayer) experience.
Temple Emunah's Religious School Curriculum is organized around five strands: (1) Torah (including The Books of Genesis and Exodus, the Early Prophets and Jewish Text), (2) T'fillah (prayer) and Ivrit (Hebrew), (3) Israel (The Land of, The State of, The People of), (4) Jewish Holidays and Life and (5) Klal Yisrael (Jewish Peoplehood/Jewish History). In every grade, these strands emerge in varying degrees of emphasis throughout the year. They reflect the learning goals, values and behaviors that are prized by our community and serve as the basis for each student's journey toward Jewish literacy.
In Gan (kindergarten), children learn the major symbols for the Jewish holidays and Israel. They learn the letters of the Alef Bet and play Israeli games.
Children in Kitah Alef (1st grade) continue learning the Alef Bet. They learn to write the letters and distinguish them from one another. They learn more about the Jewish holidays. They learn about the geography and climate of Israel.
In Kitah Bet (2nd grade), children learn about Jerusalem. They learn about the Jewish holidays using Behrman House's The Jewish Holiday Treasure Trail. Their Hebrew learning intensifies through a multi-sensory approach to learning the Alef Bet. They are introduced to the Hebrew vowels and learn to pronounce letters and words combined with them.
Children in Kitah Gimmel (3rd grade) continue their Hebrew learning through a multi-sensory approach to learning the Alef Bet. They learn to read two, three and four syllable words. In the second half of the year they learn sections of the Kabbalat Shabbat (Friday night) service. In the late spring they help lead this service, at which time they receive their own siddur (prayerbook). They also examine the central stories of Beresheet (Genesis).
In Kitah Dalet (4th grade) students devote their year to an exploration of the main narratives of the to Shemot (Exodus). They learn about the Passover Seder, familiarizing themselves with the contents of the Haggadah, learning the tunes to many of the songs and prayers. Their Hebrew is devoted to learning these songs and prayers, including sections of Hallel and Birkat HaMazon. Students learn about the Jewish calendar and celebrate Rosh Hodesh, monthly. They learn the “exodus” stories of Jewish communities around the world to the State of Israel.
Children in Kitah Hey (5th grade) learn the Torah and Haftarah services. They also study narratives of the Prophets, Judges and Kings. They learn about tefllin and with their parents "build their own". The study the declaration of Independence of The State of Israel and Hatikva and explore how The State of Israel is meeting its goal of being a country “based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel”.
In Kitah Vav (6th grade) children participate in our Beit Sefer Ilanot partnership. We are fortunate to be part of CJP's Boston-Haifa Partnership's School-to-School project. Students, together with those of Beit Sefer Ilanot's Kitah Vav, explore issues of Jewish Peoplehood and our relationship to one another. They examine the challenges of establishing a “Shared Society” of Jews and Arabs in Israel using Haifa and its environs as their point of reference. They learn Jewish history from Ancient Israel through the mid-1800s. They learn sections of both the Shaharit and Musaf Services. Toward the end of the year, along with the students of Kitah Hey, they lead a Shabbat Morning Service.
The first half the Kitah Zayin (7th grade) year engages parents in their children's learning on Sunday mornings. Together, seventh graders and their parents take part in a special thirteen-session program facilitated by Rabbi Lerner. The program includes a participatory weekly learner’s service, time for breakfast and schmoozing and a one-hour class, The Rhythms of Jewish Living: Texts and Traditions of our People. Parents and children look to the classical texts of our tradition and see what they can teach us about our history, our rituals, and building a personal sense of spirituality. In the second half of the year on Sunday mornings, seventh graders continue gathering for Shaharit services with Rabbi Lerner. Following services, students examine the questions: What does Judaism mean to me? and Why be Jewish? They hear personal accounts from our congregants and their families of their journeys to the United States, relating them to what they are learning on Wednesday evenings. Our Wednesday evening program, which runs 6:00-8:15pm, starts with dinner as part of our Yom Dalet (Wednesday) program, YAD, and is followed by class. Students learn about the Jewish response to emancipation, nationalism and the enlightenment throughout Europe: World Jewish History in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This includes: emigration from Europe to North and South America and Palestine, the establishment of the State of Israel, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, Jewish life in North Africa and Arab countries in response to the establishment of the State of Israel, and the establishment of the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements. Students also learn about Jewish life cycle events.
Temple Emunah's Religious School is guided by an active School Committee. Current co-Chairs are Norma Gaffin and Allison Page. The school is governed by the synagogue Board of Trustees.
*Temple Emunah's Religious School is supported by generous program funding from the synagogue's Sisterhood and Brotherhood.