ULPAN provides additional help to those students who are experiencing difficulty learning Hebrew reading and prayer. The Ulpan teachers work with groups of approximately four students who are pulled from their regular Hebrew class for 20-minute increments. The goal is to help students achieve their maximum potential in Hebrew reading ability. The self-image and attitudes of the students participating in the program improve noticeably. Ulpan has helped to relieve the frustration and negative feeling that some students experience while learning a foreign language.
JUNIOR CONGREGATION is an integral part of the school's curriculum. Students can participate and lead prayers in the Saturday morning service. Additionally, students are encouraged to participate in the Torah reading. These Shabbat morning services provide an opportunity for students to use what they have learned, giving them a great sense of pride in their abilities and knowledge. Many parents have commented on the discussions that they have had based on parts of the Shabbat Service as well as the Torah portion.
PASSOVER GRADE LEVEL SEDERS allow students in grades 3-7 to share a Seder experience with their friends and teachers. Teachers enjoy leading a Seder with their own students because it provides an intimate atmosphere. Different Haggadot are used depending on the academic level. Since the Seders are organized by grade level, they are age appropriate, allowing students to truly understand and enjoy the ritual. Religious School Volunteer Parents (RSVP) purchase the Seder food and recruit the help to set up the classrooms. The preparation is done during the first hour of Religious School while students are participating in an assembly. The Seders take place during the second hour.
ATTENDANCE AWARDS recognize those students who have had excellent attendance at Religious School. To receive this award, students in grades three, four and five must have missed no more than two days per semester, and students in grades six and seven must have missed no more than three days. Students who have earned this award are acknowledged at a special assembly. Each student is called to the Bima to receive a personalized certificate. Our students strive to earn this honor. Attendance awards have been a positive addition to our programming.
MUSIC is offered once a week for approximately 20 minutes. All types of Jewish songs are taught to the children. Students in grades K-7 participate in a unique grade level Shabbat program that highlights the songs they have learned. Students practice for a longer amount of time prior to their individual program.
Grade level program themes:
(includes new 2nd grade students)
|2||"Growing Up Jewishly"|
|6||Shabbat and Hanukkah|
ISRAELI DANCE is offered to students at holiday times. Various dances, including both traditional and modern, are taught to the students. Religious School students truly benefit from the instruction of Israeli Dance, allowing them an opportunity to experience more of the cultural aspects of Judaism.
CERAMICS allows students to make many different Judaic ceramic art pieces. Art projects in this class have included Shabbat candleholders, Kiddish cups, Seder plates, Passover salt-water bowls, Hanukkah trays, challah trays, and so much more. The Religious School is fortunate to have a kiln to fire all of the students' ceramic art creations. These projects have provided a bridge between the Judaism they learn in the school with the home.
RELIGIOUS SCHOOL PARTIES are offered to students in grades 3-7. The dance is an opportunity for Jewish children to socialize with other Jewish children. All Jewish children are welcome to attend regardless of affiliation. Students are asked to bring a can of food as a donation to SOVA for entry to the dance.
SEVENTH GRADE MURDER MYSTERY is a program designed to teach students about the very difficult subject of death and dying. As part of the seventh grade curriculum, students study a unit on life cycle. As a culmination to the death and dying unit, students participate in a Murder Mystery. Students enrolled in the eighth grade Confirmation Program drama elective are the actors for the Murder Mystery. On the day of the Murder Mystery, seventh grade students remain after Sunday school. They enjoy a pizza, salad and ice cream lunch. As they are eating, some of the drama class students provide entertainment by playing musical instruments, singing and dancing. After lunch, the drama class performs the Murder Mystery. The play contains information on Jewish values, ethics, and practices. During intermission, seventh grade students are divided into two teams to play a Jewish Life Cycle Trivia Game (all students receive a prize). Before the murderer is uncovered, the students meet in prearranged small groups to decide who the killer is and why he/she murdered the victim. After the team votes, the play concludes. The team with the correct identification of the murderer wins. Everyone enjoys the Murder Mystery Program. The play provides an innovative means to teach students about death and dying.
MASTER OF MITZVOT is a program designed to enhance and enrich the process of becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. To achieve Master of Mitzvot, students must complete thirteen mitzvot as outlined in a notebook given to them at the first B'nai Mitzvah Family Education workshop. Mitzvah is one of the most important ideas Judaism has given to the world. The act of performing a mitzvah is central to one's Jewish identity. Completing the thirteen mitzvot contained in the book enriches the Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience and strengthens students' Jewish identities. It also increases the spirituality and meaning of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience for both students and their parents. The Master of Mitzvot book must be completed and turned in to the Director of Religious School Education one-month prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Students who complete the program are recognized at their Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony with a beautifully framed "Master of Mitzvot" certificate.
RELIGIOUS SCHOOL FAMILY SHABBAT SERVICES occur on the fourth Friday of each month during the school year. Families are invited to lead prayers and be active participants in the Friday evening service. Families use a special siddur, P'nei Shabbat: The Shabbat Family Siddur. Singing and praying together provide a positive and inspirational experience for families. This Shabbat service has led to an increased involvement of families in synagogue life. Families eagerly look forward to this monthly Shabbat evening program.
RELIGIOUS SCHOOL GRADE LEVEL FAMILY SERVICES involve students in grades K, 1, 2 who lead specific prayers in the Family service such as L'Cha Dodi, Shema v'Ahavta, and Adon Olam. Students also sing songs based on the theme of their grade level. In kindergarten, the theme is Hebrew names; in first, Consecration and Torah; in second, "Growing Up Jewishly."
- 3rd grade – Siddur Tefillah – students receive a siddur with a personalized cover
- 4th grade – Torah Parsha – students receive a hand-made tallit
- 5th grade – Israel – students create a beautiful colorful kippah
- 6th grade – Shabbat and Hanukkah – students make their own ceramic tray
RELIGIOUS SCHOOL FAMILY SHABBAT DINNERS frequently occur prior to Grade Level Family Services (see above) and provide an opportunity for the grade level family to celebrate a special achievement or special program.
SEVENTH GRADE GRADUATION is truly a highlight of Religious School programming. A crucial year in the overall education of our students, we are proud of the fact that almost all of our seventh grade students, regardless of the date of their Bar/Bat Mitzvah, continue to attend classes throughout the school year. Therefore, we have continued to have successful graduation ceremonies with almost 100% participation. Seventh grade students lead a Mincha Service and also sing inspiring songs throughout the evening. Some of the students' writings are personally read. Each student receives a graduation certificate. After the service, a beautiful dessert reception is held in our social hall.
CONFIRMATION, held on Erev Shavuot, is an important and meaningful life cycle experience for our tenth graders and their families. Under the direction of the Rabbi, Hazzan and the Director of Religious School Education, these young adults lead a spiritual ceremony. Students write personal essays, expressing their thoughts and feelings, which are read during the service. Their essays, along with their biographies and pictures, are included in the Confirmation booklet, which is given to everyone in attendance. Families celebrate at a festive dinner before services and beautiful dessert reception following services. These young people truly exhibit a love of and commitment to Judaism.