Temple Emanu-El’s renowned Samuel and Bernice Shapiro Religious School is dedicated to preparing students to live and engage Jewish tradition in an inclusive community of life-long learning.
Our program combines study and prayer with a variety of hands-on Jewish experiences for students in Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade. Together we study Torah, explore Jewish culture and values, learn Hebrew and synagogue skills, celebrate holidays, and participate in community service projects.
Highlights of our program include the Sunday morning Family Worship service, a family education program, and our Jewish arts curriculum, which features music, cooking, pottery, and yoga.
Fill out our Religious School registration form here and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to us. You can also register online here.
Beginning in Pre-Kindergarten and continuing through 2nd grade, students come to learn on Sunday mornings. The curriculum includes Bible stories, Jewish holidays, and modern Israel. Students are exposed to Hebrew language in our Hebrew Through Movement program. The teacher speaks to children exclusively in Hebrew so children can begin to learn the language naturally, as they learned English. We also offer music weekly, as well as art, so that students can enhance their classroom learning through different media. We bring in specialists in cooking, yoga, and technology to further enrich classroom learning. The highlight of every year is watching our youngest students lead parts of Friday night Shabbat worship for the congregation.
Students in 3rd-6th grades come to learn twice a week. On Sundays, student study Judaics with their class; during the week students pursue Hebrew studies in small groups by skill level.
Judaics is a spiraling curriculum in which students return to the same topics as they get older and can develop a deeper understanding of those topics. Our three topics are: Jewish history, Jewish texts, and Israel. To enhance their classroom learning, students rotate through several enrichment programs taught by specialists and designed to complement what their are learning with their classroom teacher. Students rotate through art, technology, and music. In addition, each grade spends several weeks preparing to lead the community in Shabbat worship. Students learn several key prayers in the service (which they lead as a group), learning how to say the prayers and the meanings behind them. Classroom teachers help the students prepare original work in English that relates to service (the Torah portion or an upcoming holiday) to their classwork, which they present at the service. Our goal is to help students develop and nurture their own personal connections to Shabbat and Jewish worship.
Beginning in 3rd grade, students come once a week for Hebrew studies. We offer five session options (two on Tuesday, one on Wednesday, and two on Thursday), and families can choose the option that best works for their schedule. Students can switch between sessions as their schedules change — just let us know in advance.
Our Hebrew program is a self-paced program, meaning that no child falls behind and no one is held back by the pace of the class. Students work in small groups by skill level, across grades. Students begin by learning the Hebrew letters and vowels, leading to basic decoding skills. We use a multi-sensory approach to learning, so students learn the letters with a kinesthetic activity, a mnemonic, and coloring a flashcard. The mnemonics and flashcards are reviewed weekly to help reinforce the learning and to build decoding skills.
Once students can decode, they begin learning Hebrew prayers. Students move through ramot (levels), each one focusing on a different prayer. Each ramah (level) has an introduction, reading, grammar, vocabulary, and “words about prayer” (a section meant to help students create personal meaning for each prayer in their daily lives). Students complete a ramah by passing a test, which can be modified based on a student’s learning style.
Each weekday session begins with a camp-style learning service, led by Temple Educator Liz Levin. We focus on a different section of the service each year, and spend the entire year learning the liturgy, choreography, meaning, and history of the service.
Several times a year, all of our early education and elementary families gather to learn together. Family education programs are designed to engage learners of all ages, so that we can model life-long learning for our students. Family education programs change yearly; past topics include: Hanukkah, Purim, Sukkot, Havdallah, Jewish superheroes, and modern Israel.
Our school also gathers together for worship every week. Parents are welcome to join our Sunday Religious School service, led by Rabbi Meyer, where students learn how to worship together in the sanctuary.
Students in 7th and 8th grade meet once per week from November through March. We offer several classes each year and student choose the topics that most interest them. The goal of the Pre-Confirmation program is to make connections between students’ daily lives and Jewish values, primarily through the prism of pop culture. Past classes include: Israeli Spies, a Taste of Torah (Bible stories through cooking), Judaism and Jedi-ism, Moses: Real to Reel, and Jews in the News.
Rabbi Meyer teaches our 9th and 10th grade program. Students gather in his study on select Sunday mornings to learn about Torah, Talmud, and Jewish values. The program culminates with our Confirmation ceremony on Erev Shavu’ot (late May or early June).
For those students who choose, Rabbi Meyer leads a Post-Confirmation class for 11th and 12th graders. Students continue their exploration of classic Jewish texts and grapple with the difficult moral questions that they address.
One of the strengths of our Religious School is our Madrikhim (teen aide) program. We have an amazing group of students who are continuing their formal Jewish education and who choose to return to help younger students in their learning. More than 30 madrikhim help in classrooms and in enrichment programs. In addition to helping to teach, madrikhim serve as mentors to the younger students.
For more information about our Religious School program, please contact Temple Educator, Liz Levin, at email@example.com.
Check out these class blogs to see what our Religious School students have been learning!