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Religious School

Religious School

 

The Religious School at Beth Shalom is a vibrant sacred community where students and families find friends, teachers and clergy as role models and mentors to explore Jewish values, traditions, teachings and spirituality as we seek a meaningful life of Jewish learning and living.

Vibrant — engaging classes, relevant curricula, compelling experiences
Sacred — teaching and living Reform Jewish theology and values through exploration of Judaic Studies, Hebrew decoding and prayer
Community — students, teachers, clergy and families learning, worshipping and performing acts of loving kindness together

Curriculum Overview

The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute for Southern Jewish Living in Jackson, Mississippi provides
Southern Jewish communities with innovative programs, engaging curricula and shared
resources. The spiraled curriculum engages students in Jewish learning in key content areas
that are revisited with increasing sophistication. Key content areas are: Community; Culture &
Symbols; Jewish Holidays; Mitzvot & Jewish Values; Tanakh (Hebrew Bible); God; Hebrew &
Prayer; Israel; Jewish Lifecycle Events; and Jewish History. The ISJL Judaic Studies Curriculum is
mindful of different learners, weaving activities throughout the curriculum that engage the
auditory, visual and kinesthetic learner.

Hebrew Studies

The Hebrew program at Beth Shalom strives to present three components of Hebrew learning:
Reading the Language, Connection to Prayer and Hebrew as a Living Language. With the goal of
making the prayers in our Siddur meaningful to our students, we create a positive first link
starting in kindergarten with Alef Bet Yoga and Hebrew Through Movement. These kinesthetic
approaches to language acquisition are supported by the latest brain research on learning and
provide an aural foundation for Hebrew that opens the door to more facile Hebrew decoding
and reading. In a fun and educational program based on Total Physical Response, these
students learn to follow basic commands in Hebrew, learning words and gaining a familiarity
with Hebrew language. On Sunday mornings, students attend a lively, musical T’filah (prayer
service) that exposes them and engages them with Jewish prayer.

In third grade, formal Hebrew decoding and reading are introduced to the students using a
multimedia Hebrew primer, teaching students to decode Hebrew fluently with access to an
online learning platform that facilitates home practice. Our fourth grade students continue to
gain fluency and accuracy in Hebrew reading as they learn to read and understand prayers for
Jewish rituals, Shabbat and holidays. These students continue to have access to an online
learning platform facilitating home practice. In fifth grade, students are introduced to the
foundational prayers of our worship service including Bar’chu, Shema and the Amidah. There is
an online component for these students as well. In sixth and seventh grades, students focus on
the prayers they will recite when they lead services as they become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

All students in third through seventh grades engage in a program that encourages them to find
personal meaning through prayer. During midweek Religious School, third through seventh
graders attend a lively service with the goals of learning prayers and finding personal meaning
and connection. Rabbi Edery and Ronni Ticker take an active role in utilizing this ideal time to
teach and engage our students.

Family Engagement

There are two primary components to Beth Shalom’s Family Engagement
approach. One component occurs during Sunday morning sessions (each grade will have this
experience once during the year), and the other component occurs during Friday evening
holiday/ Shabbat programs.

Shabbat Service

The first Friday night each month is our Family Shabbat Service, geared
toward school-aged children and open to the entire congregation. The Young Family Shabbat
programs meet from 6:00-7:00 PM on most third Fridays and are a joyous celebration, targeted
especially toward families with young children from birth through second grade.

Teens

Beth Shalom has an active Madrichim program, which provides vital assistance in the school, as
well as two BeShTY Youth Groups, Senior BeShTy for high school students and Junior BeShTy for
middle schoolers.

Madrichim

The Madrichim program offers a variety of opportunities for all students, grades 8 – 12,
to support the school and stay engaged on a weekly basis. Recent research has shown
that involvement in a Jewish peer program during teen years is crucial to a strong Jewish
identity. Teens assist with classroom learning, special events, and Hebrew teaching and serve
as teen buddies working one-on-one with students of different abilities.

BeShTY (Beth Shalom Temple Youth)

Here at Beth Shalom, we offer Junior and Senior youth group programs. These begin in
sixth grade and continue through senior year of high school. Youth group meets at least
once a month during the year and participates in social events, Mitzvah projects, peer
leadership, Shabbat services and much more. Our teens also participate in NFTY regional
and national events.