The Barry Ira Graff School for Living Judaism at Congregation B’nai Israel offers programs for children in Kindergarten through 12th grade.
During this year, students receive an introduction to our school and synagogue life. The holidays come alive with celebrations, music, food, arts and crafts, and prayer. Students learn general Hebrew vocabulary and are taught to make the world a better place by contributing to our many tzedakah projects and by performing mitzvot. The children will also explore the synagogue and its place in Jewish life, in addition to the concept of G-d.
Our students learn about the Jewish holidays with a deeper understanding of our customs and ceremonies and their place in Jewish life. They discover basic prayers to communicate with G-d in the synagogue, in home celebrations, in the classroom, and in their personal lives. The concepts of mitzvot and tzedakah continue to be a part of their studies, while they further explore Gemilut Chasadim (the giving of loving kindness) and Israel.
This year focus’s on the early Bible stories. Through art, music, and role-playing, the Biblical personalities come alive and help to create Jewish memories. The students continue with holiday observances, mitzvot, and tzedakah. Hebrew letter recognition and vocabulary prepare the students for the following year’s formal introduction to Hebrew. In addition, a special library program is added to the curriculum.
Our students become Tzofim (Israeli Scouts) for the year. Their year begins with the creation of their Tzofim t-shirt and a candle lighting induction ceremony where they begin their quest for badges in the areas of Synagogue, Torah, Prayer, Helping Hands, Israel, Bible, Jewish Books, Holidays and Shabbat. Students begin the first level of formal Hebrew where they will learn the names and sounds of letters and vowels, and how to read Hebrew, including simple prayers.
During the year, students concentrate on the Jewish Life Cycle and receive their Hebrew name at a special Naming Ceremony. They explore the various components of Consecration, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation, marriage, and death. Students begin the second level of Hebrew which includes the concept of prayer, reading prayers with fluency and accuracy, and holiday and prayer vocabulary.
This year students explore the State of Israel, its past and present. The format involves the students taking a “tour” of modern Israel, where they will visit and experience the major cities and sites, meet the builders of the country, and confront the highs and lows of its history. Holidays are observed as though in Israel. Current events are an integral part of the program. The third level of Hebrew continues with the prayer curriculum, focusing on the Shabbat evening prayers.
Students will explore our Tanakh (Bible) and learn why we are called the “People of the Book”. Exciting activities include an Exodus Walk, Faith in Darkness Exercise, a Biblical Treasure Hunt, and dramatic visits by Heroes of the Bible. The fourth level of Hebrew continues with an in-depth prayer curriculum focusing on the Shabbat morning prayers. The year culminates with a unique moving up ceremony to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah level written and led by our students.
Students come on Tuesday nights for classes and opportunities to intermingle with the whole 7th through 10th Grade community. Students take courses in Holocaust, Jewish Heroes, and Jewish Community. Seventh graders also have the opportunity to have dinner with our youth groups before classes.
Eighth – Tenth Grades
Our Confirmation Program meets on Tuesday evenings from 6:45-8:15 pm and offers dynamic courses, which include text study, cooperative learning, media, guest speakers, field trips, retreats, and hands-on learning experiences. Students have the opportunity to meet from 6:00-6:45 pm before classes for youth group and dinner. Our Confirmation Program culminates at the end of 10th Grade with the 10th graders leading the Confirmation service on Shavuot and a three week trip to Israel!
Eleventh & Twelfth Grades
Our Post Confirmation program provides students with the opportunity to study with our rabbis once a month on a Sunday morning. This creates a further bond with the rabbis and a further connection to Congregation B’nai Israel. In this two-year curriculum, we explore our “Jewish Roots in America” one year and “Jewish Values That Support Civic Engagement” the next year. We will take a trip to New York City during the Jewish Roots year and to Washington, DC during the Jewish Civic Engagement year. A formal graduation for seniors celebrates their accomplishments.
For more information about all of our programs, fees, or to register, please contact of Director of Religious Education, Kim Beame.