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Kindergarten: Judaics & Hebrew Overview

Our goal in Gan (Kindergarten) Jewish Studies is to foster a joyful personal identity with Judaism. At a developmental age where children are beginning to see themselves in relation to others, we work to ensure that their Jewish self is reflected in their daily activities and that the foundation is laid for positive and knowledgeable Jewish interaction with the world.

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.

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 in Kindergarten:

  • Total Physical Response (TPR)
  • Hebrew Through Movement (HTM)
  • Whole Language- experiential learning, exploration, engaging with Hebrew language and print from real experiences

Activities:

  • Reading and Writing
  • Speaking and Listening
  • Arts: Music, Drama, Visual Art, Book-making
  • Games: action-based and problem-solving

Benchmarks:

  • Students will engage with Hebrew reading and writing through developmentally appropriate activities to learn the letters of the aleph-bet, to recognize their names in Hebrew, and begin the process of applying decoding knowledge to a second language. Students will use Hebrew as part of their daily routine (calendar, greetings, and directions)
  • Students will communicate in Hebrew about colors, weather, the family, Jewish holidays, Shabbat, parts of the body, and objects in the home and the synagogue through speaking, listening and action.
  • Students will use Hebrew throughout the day in their play, including songs, Israeli dance, free choice, and other games.

Torah תורה

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. They develop a love of text, our shared heritage, and language that informs their values, moral obligations, and ways of engaging with the world. 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. “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.
In Gan, we will engage with the following Torah stories:

  1. Jonah
  2. Creation and the Garden of Eden
  3. Esther
  4. Joseph
  5. Exodus
  6. Biblical Leaders
  7. Sinai and the 10 Commandments

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:

  • Gives examples of rabbis, teachers and other people who help explain the Torah.
  • Contributes personal ideas about the narrative.
  • Raises questions about the stories of the Torah.
  • Knows there are special stories— Midrashim—that help explain and teach lessons based on the Torah’s words and narratives.

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:

  • Identifies main characters of central Torah narratives.
  • Identifies main events of central Torah narratives.
  • Connects relevant holiday or celebration to the biblical narrative

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:

  • Displays excitement, respect, and anticipation for Torah study.
  • Links specific value behaviors with biblical personalities in narrative settings.
  • Applies values into personal Jewish practice.

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 explore T’filah תפילה (Prayer) through song, poetry, yoga, and meditation.
  • Students will follow the Jewish calendar, understanding the role of Shabbat and Holidays (שבת וחגים) and the traditions that make them special.
  • Students will develop a connection with Israel ישראל – the land, people, and culture.
  • Students will explore their personal Jewish identity and relationship with God.

 

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). These 7 middot are the connected to keys to success according to Paul Tough in his book, How Children Succeed.

Curiosity – הסתקרנות

Zest and Zeal – זריזות (התלהבות

Will Power – גבורה

Perseverance and Grit – נצח

Social intelligence –  דרך ארץ

Gratitude – הכרת הטוב

Wholeness and Peace – שלמות

In Kindergarten students will experience and integrate mitzvot related to daily living experiences as an integral part of their understanding of Jewish values.

  • hazan et hakol (feeding the hungry)
  • tzedakah (giving to those in need)
  • sh’lom bayit (peace in the house)
  • kibud av v’em (honoring your father and mother)
  • kibud zekenim (honoring the elderly)
  • hahnasat orhim (welcoming guests)
  • n’kayon (cleanliness)
  • bikur holim (caring for the sick)
  • tz’ar ba-alei haiim (treating all creatures with dignity)
  • g’milut hasadim (acts of love and kindness)

Resources: Tora Aura Big Books, Tora Aura Alef-Bet, Torah, A Child’s Garden of Torah, folktales and more

Assessment

We assess a child’s progress and needs through observation, and then select materials which match individual learning styles and developmental levels, with the goal of aligning curriculum content and instructional strategies with each child’s success.

We assesses the kindergartners’ knowledge on new concepts and use frequent, embedded assessments to guide instruction and monitor progress.

We believe that assessing only in one way or in one context does not tell us the whole story. We consider the many ways children learn and the many ways they can show what they know.

We believe that  children should be assessed while engaged in the process of learning as opposed to out of context assessment, which does not assess the whole child.

We believe that developmentally appropriate assessment leads to joyful learning and success for the child.