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5th Grade: Judaics & Hebrew Overview

Hebrew עברית

Why do we study Hebrew?

Hebrew is the language of the Jewish people, reflecting our identity and heritage. The study of Hebrew facilitates access to traditional Jewish texts while connecting the student to the culture and literature of the modern State of Israel, and  to Jews around the world.

Educational studies suggest additional benefits of early foreign language education including :

  • Improving problem-solving and listening skills
  • Building a greater sensitivity to language and awareness of cultural diversity  
  • Promoting creative whole-brain development

How do we study Hebrew?

Hebrew instruction at SJCS is learner-centered, engaging students interests and learning styles. Teachers build curricula from a wide range of sources to provide the best language acquisition for students. Hebrew education is focused on communication – listening, speaking, reading and writing. We learn Hebrew in conjunction with our cultural exploration of Judaism, learning about holidays, Israel, and ourselves in the Hebrew language.

Methods and Materials:

  • Total Physical Response (TPR)
  • Hebrew Through Movement (HTM)
  • TaL-AM
  • A large eclectic variety of Hebrew literature and curricular materials


  • Students will strengthen reading fluency and mechanics through reading Hebrew texts as a class and weekly independent reading of a Hebrew book from our class library.  
  • Students will participate in and lead conversations on daily life (topics include: their personal lives, current events, Israeli culture and history, and world history).
  • Students will be able to communicate verbal and written complex, multi-step directions in Hebrew, both as a leader and responder.
  • Students will write an analytical summary about material read in Hebrew and share it orally.
  • Students will engage in casual conversation with peers and adults outside of the structured classroom lessons
  • Students will communicate in the present, past, and future tense using complex sentence structure and time indicators and distinguish agreement between, nouns, verbs and numbers.

Torah תורה

Why do we study Torah?

Students at SJCS study TaNaKh (Bible) in order to engage in thoughtful inquiry, develop a connection to others, and explore who they are. Torah study provides opportunities for students to connect deeply with their Jewish identity. “Talmud Torah k’neged kulam,” The study of Torah leads us to fulfil the sacred obligations inspired by the text that make the world a better place.

How do we study Torah?

Our students engage with the text in Hebrew and English, and understand and analyze the text through asking deep questions, grappling with big ideas, and wrestling with the text. They develop a love of text, our shared heritage, and language that informs their values, moral obligations, and ways of engaging with the world.

In 5th grade, we will study the following topics:

  1. Hagar and Ishmael in the context of Rosh Hashanah
  2. Shlach Lecha – The Spies
  3. Korah – The Rebellion
  4. Hukkat – The Defiant Leader
  5. B’tzelem Elohim – Being Created in the Image of God

In our study of Torah, we are guided by the following standards and benchmarks:

Students will be engaged in the learning of ancient, rabbinic and modern modes of interpretation of the biblical text and will see themselves as a link in this ongoing chain of interpretation.

To meet this standard, students will achieve the following benchmarks:

  • Articulates that there are commentaries that provide interpretations of the Torah.
  • Navigates and reads a Rashi commentary from a humash.
  • Explains interpretive differences between commentators through the different sociological times, places, and contexts in which they lived.
  • Evaluates own process of interpretation.

Students will view the TaNaKH as the formative narrative of the Jewish people – past, present and future.

To meet this standard, students will achieve the following benchmarks:

  • Explores the themes of various biblical narratives and empathizes with the biblical characters involved.
  • Traces events of the narrative with greater intensity, focusing on details and complex themes.
  • Relates prophetic moral and ethical messages to contemporary situations.

Students will develop a love of Torah study for its own sake and embrace it as an inspiring resource, informing their values, moral commitments and ways of experiencing the world.

To meet this standard, students will achieve the following benchmarks:

  • Interprets a TaNaKh text in a way that is specifically personally meaningful.
  • Articulates the idea that Torah study is concerned with moral questions.
  • Analyzes and evaluates the TaNaKh’s internal resolutions of its conflicts and moral dilemmas.
  • Articulates various perspectives on modern moral issues using either teacher or student-identified biblical texts.
  • Formulates contemporary scenarios which include modern versions of biblical characters.

Jewish Culture and Values  לימודי יהדות :תרבות וערכים   

We are blessed to be part of a multi-faceted tradition. Culture, values, history, prayer, and beliefs weave together like the strands of a rope. Braided together, they are stronger than any individual strand and create the vibrancy of Jewish life we know today. At SJCS we strive to braid a strong rope to anchor our students to Jewish heritage, connect them with Jewish traditions around the world, and guide them toward creating a stronger, brighter world. These topics are taught both through text and action, living the concepts we learn in the classroom.  

  • Students will participate in daily prayer opportunities, gaining fluency in and comprehension of the weekday and Shabbat prayers.
  • Students will develop leadership skills as hazanim (prayer leaders) and be counted on as role models and leaders in t’fillah (prayer) and holiday programming at SJCS.
  • Students will increase their understanding of the annual Torah cycle through the study of parashot hashavu’a ( Weekly Torah Portion ), specifically the mitzvot (commandments) found in each parsha.
  • Students will deepen their understanding of holidays, exploring the liturgy and scripture associated with holy days.
  • Students will explore their personal connection with God, Israel ישראל -the land, people, and culture-, and their Jewish identities.
  • Students will practice communication skills through writing and delivering reports on topics including mitzvot and history.

Our Values: The Ideals We Live By ערכים

Learning at Seattle Jewish Community School is guided by values and ideals rooted in Jewish tradition, molded by modern pedagogic practices, and enriched through the love of our faculty and support staff.

Jewish Identity זהות יהודית | Our students develop a strong Jewish identity, built on the richness of our collective history and tradition, and our commitment to the principles of dereh eretz דרך ארץ , tikkun olam תיקון עולם , and gemilut hasadim גמילות חסדים .

Intellectual Rigor יסודיות אינטלקטואלית | from mathematics to Torah study, we encourage our students to delve deeply into diverse and complex subject matter.

Thoughtful Inquiry חקירה מתוך מלאכת מחשבת  | We inspire intellectual curiosity by offering rich content and encouraging a dialogue where asking questions is as important as finding answers.

Sense of Self מודעות עצמית  | We foster in our students a strong sense of self along with the confidence and resilience to stand behind their beliefs.

Connection to Others מודעות לאחר  | Our students engage respectfully and generously with each other and the world developing a sense of responsibility and commitment to service.

Inclusive Community קהילה שמקרבת מגוון רחב של אנשים | We provide a warm and nurturing atmosphere where all students and families are welcomed and supported and where relationships flourish, even after graduation.


Our students learn seven Middot (Character Traits) that are based on the school’s values. 

דרך ארץ Dereh Eretz Citizenship
חסד Hesed Kindness
סקרנות Sak’rnut Curiosity
התמדה Hatmadah Perseverance
צדק Tzedek Justice
רחמים Rahamim Compassion
הכרת הטוב Hakarat Hatov Gratitude