The goal of the Temple Israel Religious School is to instill in our children a love of Judaism, a positive Jewish identity, and strong moral and ethical values. We accomplish this task by teaching and advocating Jewish identity, values and observances and by providing our children Hebrew language skills for participating in worship and rituals. Ultimately, our objective is to transmit our Jewish culture – – our distinct view of the world, our obligation to improve it and out relationship to people and G-d – – to the next generation.Our curriculum is sequential and thematically organized within two important content areas: Hebrew and Judaic Studies.
Ethics and Values
Consistent with our Mission Statement is a conscious emphasis on the ethical questions the Judaism forces us to ask. Why should I act in certain ways? What is my job as a Jew? How can I incorporate the central teachings of Judaism into my daily life? One example of this is the behavioral guidelines in our Handbook. These guidelines derive from an enduring Jewish teaching. Connecting specific lessons to “big ideas” is the objective of the Ethics and Values component of our curriculum. Learners will explore mitzvot the require us to help others, safeguard ourselves, and repair the world.
Hebrew links us with more than 3,000 years of identity as a distinct people. Even after we dispersed throughout the world without our own land or government, our use of Hebrew as the language of Torah and prayer united all Jews as one people. We teach Hebrew to continue this link – – across time and space – – in worship and study.The Religious School community recognizes that children begin their studies at different ages and advance in mastery at different rates. For this reason the Religious school curriculum provides for small group instruction and progression through a sequential Hebrew program. An informal introduction to Hebrew letters and sounds begins in kindergarten. Formal instruction in Hebrew language starts in the first grade. By the end of the third grade most children should be able to participate in and lead portions of the Shabbat service. By the time children become bar or bat mitzvah they should be fluent enough in Hebrew to lead most of the Friday evening and Shabbat morning service adult service. Use of Hebrew in blessings, informally in conversations and as part of Judaic Studies occurs in every grade. For children in their pre bar/bat mitzvah year, individual tutoring sessions supplement the Hebrew instruction provided in the classroom.
Judaic Studies include all other topics and themes of Jewish education. Students will encounter Hebrew in these content areas as well, but the emphasis is on experiencing the spiritual underpinnings of Judaism and understanding Jewish concepts and beliefs. Some topics are weekly encounters, such as Torah and prayer. Other topics recur annually such as holidays. Still other topics are subjects of multi-session units, such as mitzvoth, Israel, themes in Jewish history, and life cycle. It is our intention to provide age-appropriate experiences so that children build upon past learnings and bring new insights to their encounters.
The synagogue hosts several family oriented events during the school year. Everyone in the community is welcome to participate. Some of these events are oriented around an approaching holiday, other are strictly cultural in nature. Most of them occur in Friday evening, or Saturday, Sunday mornings.
The Synagogue offers appropriate Shabbat services for various age groups. Consult the Religious School calendar, the doorpost, the weekly email bulletin, and school notices for the schedule of these services.
All students are welcome at all adult services as well as at family Services. To provide an optimum integration of the year-long Torah and prayer components of the curriculum with actual observance of Shabbat, children are urged to attend Shabbat services every month. The Hebrew curriculum assumes that students are attending Shabbat services throughout the year. Children in kindergarten through grade 4 should plan to attend at least ten Friday evening and Saturday morning services each year. Children in grades 5 and 6 should plan to attend combined total of a minimum of 10 services during the year. Students in the year of their bar or bat mitzvah preparation should be attending services at least two Saturday mornings and an occasional Friday evening service every month, for a total of at least 24 Saturday services.
Regular attendance at Shabbat services will give your child a head start with the Hebrew and melodies that become part of the bar/bat mitzvah training in seventh grade. As their skills develop, children in grades 1-6 will also assist in leading portions of the services, thereby gaining confidence in public worship. There are additional Shabbat participation expectations for students in their bar/bat mitzvah preparation year.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Preparation
Education during the Year of the bar/bat mitzvah preparation occurs in four venues:
Classroom: Students meet weekly on Sundays and Wednesdays.
Tutoring: Six or more months before their scheduled bar/bat mitzvah dates, students begin one-on-one instruction to master their assigned maftir and haftorah portions and to perfect their mastery of Shabbat liturgy. Students will meet approximately 25 times in individual tutoring sessions.
Shabbat services: Mastery of and confidence in leading our liturgy can come only from actual participation in Shabbat services. During the 12 months immediately preceding the date of their bar/bat mitzvah, students must attend at least 24 services. Students frequently assist the Rabbi in leading portions of the service.
Community Service: Preparation for adulthood includes taking responsibility for tikkun olam – – repair of the world. Students will participate in several mitzvah projects and educational units within the synagogue community and as members of the broader Seacoast community.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Orientation
Children in their pre-bar/bat mitzvah year, together with their parents, will participate in a special orientation program offered early in the year. The orientation program will provide parents and their children an experience of shared planning and open communication with each other and the Rabbi.