Our Curriculum

Our curriculum is designed with several basic elements, which are detailed below.  It has been crafted with the intention of creating opportunities for many different kinds of learning – project-based learning, creative expression, movement, and more traditional modalities as well.

Grade-Based Curriculum

Each grade covers a particular time period or area of study. This provides a consistent “thread” throughout the year that culminates in a final project or presentation.  For each topic, there are specific people, places, things, experiences and concepts that students encounter.

The Early learning through Kitah Bet (2nd grade) classes share the topic of Shabbat and Holidays.  The year cycle provides the “backbone” of Jewish time and sensory experience; the cycle of the holidays provides many opportunities for younger children to learn and explore along with their families, drawing on their specific lived experiences and family traditions (old and new). Students delve deeper into the year cycle and Shabbat as they move through Kitah Bet (2nd grade), and at times work together across age groups.

Grade Level Topic
Early Learning Holidays and Shabbat, Introduction to some Hebrew letters
Gan-Aleph (K-1) Holidays and Shabbat, Beginning Hebrew
Bet (2) Holidays and Shabbat, Beginning Hebrew
Gimmel (3) Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy)
Dalet (4) Nevi’im and Ketuvim (Prophets and Writings)
Hei (5) Mishna and the Early Rabbis
Vav (6) Lifecycle (situating Bar/Bat Mitzvah in a larger life context)
Zayin (7) Holocaust, Zionisms and Israeli Society, “Hot Topics”, Current Events

Themes – Jewish Values and Mitzvot

The entire school spends part of the week focused on the same overarching idea for the duration of two Hebrew months.  Teachers and students choose to explore different specific mitzvot that are related to the larger ideas.  Classes are encouraged to work together and teach one another as part of this exploration.  Classes are also encouraged to come up with real-world applications and projects connected to these themes, bringing our learning to the larger Ohev Shalom community, and sometimes outside the walls of Ohev Shalom altogether. Our themes for the the 5777 (2016-2017) year:

Hebrew Month Broad Jewish Values Theme Specific Mitzvot or principles that classes may cover


Kedushah – a Sense Sacred Space and Sacred Time Making Mitzvot beautiful, Honoring sacred objects and places, kippah, mezuzah, Shabbat


Gemilut Chasadim – Deeds of Lovingkindness visiting the sick, welcoming guests, returning lost objects, Providing food and clothing, honoring elders.


Mussar – character development Taking care of the body, mindful speech, Avoiding waste, managing big feelings, practicing gratitude


Redifat Shalom/Redifat Tzedek – Pursuing Peace and Justice Redeeming captives, conflict resolution, protecting vulnerable people, saving a life, being an “upstander”, inclusion of all, choosing how to give Tzedakah
Iyar Ahavat Yisrael – Connection to Israel and to the Global Jewish community Encountering the Land of Israel, Jewish Peoplehood and unity, universalism/particularism


We begin introducing Hebrew letters and sounds to our youngest students.  Children in our Early Learning through Kitah bet (2nd grade) classes encounter the Aleph-Bet in various ways, working towards recognition of all the letters and their sounds.

In Kitah Gimmel (3rd grade), students work more systematically through the Hebrew alphabet through Aleph-Bet Quest, a fun decoding program with a game-based digital home component.  Our goal is for students to be able to decode with confidence by the end of Kitah Gimmel (3rd grade)

Kitot Dalet through Vav (grades 4-6) will be piloting the Mitkadem Hebrew curriculum this year.  Mitkadem is a self-paced Hebrew learning system that focuses on the structure of the Hebrew language as well as on fluent pronunciation and recitation of prayers.  In this system, students work independently, assisted as needed by teachers and Madrichim.  Teachers will supplement Mitkadem work with whole-class Hebrew games as well as activities connected to the meanings of the prayers.

Kitah Zayin follows a somewhat different format, with some opportunities for students to continue to practice their Hebrew decoding as well as to learn some basic Modern Hebrew.

Tefilah (prayer)

We create opportunities for students to encounter tefilah in its “natural habitat” through a series of “Kol Rinah” services throughout the year.  Kol Rinah services are special Shabbat experiences (either Friday night, Saturday morning or Saturday night) that bring Mispallelim together with the rest of the congregation to sing, learn and pray.

Students have opportunities to lead prayers at these services, based on their mastery of the material. They may also be invited to share their own interpretations of the prayers. These services are designed for family involvement and participation


The goal of electives is to provide students with choice and autonomy, as well as to invite students to engage in Jewish creative expression.  It is also an opportunity for us to expose students to aspects of Jewish culture, history and tradition that might not otherwise fit into the core curriculum (conversational Hebrew, Modern Jewish history, folklore, etc…) There are three cycles of electives offered this year.  We welcome parents to suggest (or even co-lead!) electives in consultation with staff[1].

Family Learning

This year, we have scheduled several Family Learning days. Most of these days are connected to the holiday cycle, and are geared towards providing families with resources and inspiration to bring the holidays home.  We hope to be able to facilitate learning experiences that are stimulating to adults and children alike.


[1]  any parents who are in regular contact with students need to have clearances as determined by state and federal laws.