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We want our children to experience Judaism with joy.

That's the goal of the Shir Tikvah religious school, and we take a holistic approach towards achieving it—a combination of spirited classroom learning, meaningful hands-on activities, home-based traditions, and participation in the work of the community through an innovative program called the Learning Corps

Learning Corps

The Shir Tikvah Learning Corps, developed with a grant from the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) of Boston, is an innovative activity-based program designed to give children the experience of turning Jewish values into action, mirroring the work of the Temple. The grades are linked to five committees and their focus—welcoming and belonging (Membership Committee), introduction to the cultural history of Jews and the love of Torah, books and participation in lifelong learning (Library Committee), taking care of each other (Caring Committee), learning about our connection to the land, state and people of Israel (Israel Committee), and becoming socially and environmentally responsible (Tikkun Olam Committee). Parents and committee representatives plan the activities together, tailoring them to the development level of each grade. It's a three-way relationship: Parents learn about temple work, committees connect with the religious school, and children benefit by experiencing what it's like to contribute to the community.

Read our brochure that explains more about our educational approach to learning Jewish values. Check out this JewishBoston.com article.  See a first-hand view of the Learning Corps in action and hear from teachers, students, and parents in our Learning Corps video. Questions? Contact our Education Director, Bailee Star.

Learning Corps Curriculum

Grade 1

Students will learn what it means to be a Jewish child through stories and activities covering three main areas: holidays and their celebration, prayers of thankfulness, and lessons from the Torah. They will also prepare for their First Grade Consecration during which each child will receive a mini-Torah as a way to mark the beginning of their Jewish education. 

Families will form the "Community Corps" with the Membership Committee. First and second grade families will experience the Jewish value of welcoming guests (hachnasat orchim) through drama, art, and planning events such as Havdalah Together.

Grade 2

The year has two components: Hebrew and ethics. Children will be introduced to Hebrew letters and vowels, and by the time they finish the second grade, they will be able to read simple words. They will also explore Jewish values central to Jewish identity.

Second grade families will continue in the "Community Corps" with the Membership Committee.

Grade 3

Students will practice Hebrew reading and pronunciation and build on the vocabulary they've learned in the second grade. The goal is for each student to be able to read slowly but with fluency by the end of the year.

Third grade families will form the "Library Corps" with the Library Committee to learn and talk about the cultural history of Jews and our love of books, the Torah, and our duty to engage in lifelong learning.  They’ll help the Library Committee by writing reviews of books for the newsletter, making presentations about books they’ve read, reading books with book buddies and transporting books back and forth from the temple on bookmobile Sundays.  They’ll read books about Israel and will try to outwit the adult community in an Israel trivia contest and participate in other activities that help everyone gain understanding of the importance of books in our cultural tradition.

Grade 4

We'll bring the children up to a comfortable reading level by introducing the concept of a blessings, and they'll learn the ones for grapes, bread, fruit, cake, trees, spices, and various activities. We move on to the morning prayers, the Sh'ma and its accompanying blessings.

The year's goal is to see the Torah narrative as a whole and to understand the relationships between the characters we bring to life, starting with the creation stories in Genesis, and ending with the events that led to Moses' journey out of Egypt. We'll use art, music, creative writing, and drama to more fully understand these characters.

Fourth grade families will form the "Caring Corps" with members of the Caring Committee.  They will interview members of the committee as well as members who have been helped by the committee.  They will also make baby blankets for the community's newest members, share blessings for the community at a Friday evening service and help out at a shiva to experience what it means to console someone who has lost a loved one.

Grade 5

We'll advance students through the Siddur (Shabbat prayer book) through the study of the Amidah, the heart of our service. This is the "standing prayer" when we say blessings of praise and thanksgiving. Students will explore the spiritual meaning and origin of these blessings.

Students will be introduced to modern Hebrew.   They will also examine the ongoing conflict through art, music, industry, pop culture, innovation and education.  They will explore these diverse narratives and find a narrative that speaks to them. 

Grade 6

We'll advance the students through the Siddur by studying the Amidah, Oseh Shalom, Shalom Rav, Shalom Aleichem, Lacha Dodi, and Adon Olam as well as the Torah service. Students will explore the meanings of these prayers and learn to sing them in preparation for the sixth grade Shabbat service.

Students use the B'nai Telem curriculum (a community service and Jewish learning program) to learn about and participate in social outreach projects in and around their communities. In conjunction with this learning, families participate together as part of the Tikkun Olam Corps. Activities include holding monthly Sunday sessions at Atria Senior Living, volunteering at a local soup kitchen, delivering meals to families in need, and planning book and clothing drives.

In January, students and their parents also attend the Mitzvah Makers Shabbaton, a pre-bar/bat mitzvah year gathering at the Temple, where students will be given their own prayer book and their Torah and Haftarah portions. This is a wonderful opportunity to get first-hand information about the exciting year ahead.

Grade 7

What does it mean to say "Baruch atah Adonai" (Blessed are you, God)? How do we understand our liturgy and how it relates to our daily lives? What are the rituals and holidays that shape our culture and religious practice?  Rabbi Cari will help students examine the central prayers, the deepest ideas and practices, in a quest to develop a fuller understanding of what prayer means to us.  Students will also use the Facing History and Ourselves curriculum to examine what it means to have one identity with multiple belongings.

Students will also study the history and experience of Jews in America and discuss freedom of religion, including how Jews established themselves in America and dealt with assimilation pressures.  They will also examine universal themes of the Holocaust that raise questions about human behavior, as well as focusing on the growth of Tikkun Olam activities after the World War II.

Students will continue to participate in the “Tikkun Olam Corps,” and will participate as a class in the Tikkun Olam Fund.  The Fund was initiated by the Seventh Grade five years ago, when students agreed to forego buying each other Bar and Bat Mitzvah gifts. Instead, each family choses to donate the money that would have been spent on these gifts into the Fund.  Seventh grade students study philanthropic organizations and identity the recipients of the money at the end of the year.

Wed, December 12 2018 4 Tevet 5779