Our Judaics program is designed to root our students in the traditions of the Jewish people, deepen their connections to the worldwide Jewish community, and inspire joyful and meaningful participation in Jewish life and practice.
Hebrew language learning opens many doors for our students – they can communicate with Jews worldwide and access our texts in the original form. Kindergarten students are gently introduced to JDS' TaL AM program, a rich curriculum which teaches reading and auditory comprehension through stories, songs and holiday learning. In 1st Grade students are immersed in TaL AM and graduate that year listening, responding, singing, reading and writing in Hebrew. TaL AM learning continues in 2nd and 3rd Grade. Students move to the Chaverim B’Ivrit program for 4th and 5th Grade, a program that is based in their experience and expression. Chaverim B’Ivrit allows students to actively apply their years of Hebrew instruction to themes relevant to their lives while also preparing students for our rigorous Middle School Hebrew program.
Program Highlight: 1st Grade Siddur Ceremony, a culmination of Hebrew learning at the end of 1st Grade in which students fluently and confidently share the stories and experiences that shaped their instruction with their parents and community.
Torah study at JDS provides the tools for students to actively engage with and make meaning of the Torah text. In Kindergarten, students begin with the stories in Sefer Breisheet (the first book of the Torah) and move to reading and delving into the actual text in 2nd Grade. Each year students add new skills to build understanding and their own connections with Torah, including: finding roots, recognizing frequent vocabulary, identifying patterns and problems in the text and working with partners to deepen understanding. Students focus on Sefer Breisheet in 2nd and 3rd Grade, Sefer Shmot in 4th Grade and selections from Sefer VaYikra and D’varim in 5th Grade.
Program Highlight: 2nd Grade Torah Ceremony, during which students share their understanding, questions and midrashim (personal interpretations of the text) with their parents and community.
Tefilah (or prayer) at JDS is designed to connect students to their tradition and their deepest thoughts and hopes. Simultaneously, students develop the skills necessary to participate and lead the Jewish community in diverse future prayer settings. Each year students learn to chant, understand new prayers, and build an awareness of their own spirituality as well as the structure and nature of prayer.
Program Highlight: 3rd Grade Inquiry Unit, Building Blessings, focuses on developing appreciation, learning the Birkat HaMazon (the set of blessings after eating), and taking action to bring God’s blessings to those in need. The 3rd Grade students choose different ways to Take Action each year.
Judaic Social Studies
Judaic Social Studies allows students to delve deeply into aspects of Jewish learning by moving through the inquiry cycle. Throughout Elementary School at JDS, students engage in learning about the life cycle (Cycles of Celebration, 4th Grade), Russian immigration (Welcoming Guests, 5th Grade), keeping kosher (What’s for Dinner, 3rd Grade), Jewish midrashim (Storytelling, 2nd Grade) and much, much more.
Program Highlight: 4th Grade Unit, Ma Nishtanah HaSeder HaZeh, students learn about the rituals of the Passover Seder and then present rituals they have created to meet similar purposes to the traditional ones, while deepening their understanding of the Seder itself.