Jewish School

Jewish School

At Beth David Jewish School, we seek to imbue in our children a love of things Jewish and equip them with the skills and knowledge to live a joyful and meaningful Jewish life in the 21st century. Our carefully curated curriculum focuses on Jewish STEM skills:

  • Spirituality – the search for meaning
  • Theology – the wrestling with big questions (What is G-d? Do we have souls? Why do bad things happen to good people?)
  • Ethics – making moral decisions in difficult situations when values may conflict
  • Maggid – learning the stories of our people that transmit our identity and beliefs

Our educational program is experiential, hands-on and inquiry-based using best practices in education informed by cutting-edge research. Our teachers continually hone their skills through professional development and adult learning.

Students in grades K-3 meet once a week on Sundays from 9:00am-11:30am. Beginning in fourth grade, students begin coming twice a week. Student in grades four through six also attend Jewish school on Tuesdays from 4:15-6:15. Seventh grade through Confirmation in 10th grade meets on Tuesdays from 6:30-8:00pm. Eighth, ninth and tenth graders attend on Tuesdays only; ninth graders attend on a biweekly basis. Students study both Hebrew and Jewish Studies on Sundays as well as Tuesdays.

Holidays are joyfully celebrated and taught in each grade with a spiral curriculum wherein key skills and knowledge are learned in developmentally appropriate ways and new concepts and information are taught each year so that each year knowledge about Jewish holidays deepens and grows.

Jewish School in Orange County

Our Jewish Studies curriculum is as follows:

Kindergarten & 1st Grade – This is a two-year rotating curriculum where children learn core Biblical stories from Genesis through the writings, Jewish values and mitzvot—sacred Jewish responsibilities.  A value for each Biblical story is taught and reinforced with a hands-on activity. Thought questions for children to discuss in class and then ask again at home give our youngest learners the opportunity to make Biblical stories and Jewish values meaningful in their own lives. Children also explore ideas about G-d through age-appropriate literature and activities.

2nd & 3rd Grades – This is a two-year rotating curriculum where children learn about Israel, the diversity of our Jewish people, and our Jewish world—the synagogue, the Jewish community center and other important Jewish institutions and people.  Jewish teachings focusing on social-emotional learning using mindfulness, movement and other multisensory activities rounds out the program.

4th Grade – Children explore the dramatic stories of Genesis and the connections between Jewish values and how they can be applied to our relationships with friends and family. Children are encouraged to connect to these foundational stories through art, drama, journaling, games, active questioning and more. Through the lens of Genesis children learn something new about themselves from the ups and downs of our Biblical ancestors.

5th Grade – Children study stories in the Book of Exodus using them to make connections between Jewish values and their role in the larger community. From the courage of the midwives as they save Hebrew babies to Moses standing up for standing up for justice, to Miriam’s thankfulness at the Sea of Reeds, students explore how to apply Jewish values to their own everyday challenges. Children also learn about Jewish life cycle events surrounding birth, Jewish milestones (Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation), the Jewish wedding and more.

6th Grade – In their pre-Bar/Bat Mitzvah year, students explore the lives of seven prophets: Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Jonah and the Jewish values they exemplify. Students read stories based on biblical texts that bring each prophet vividly to life while also learning about their historical context. This historical period parallels the students’ history studies in 6th grade in their general studies school. Connections to modern-day events and people are also explored, helping students discover the relevance for today in the ancient messages of our Biblical ancestors.

7th Grade – In their Bar/Bat Mitzvah year, students study the weekly Torah portion of the week through a lively video series called Bim-Bam which deliberately links the Biblical text to modern-day dilemmas. Students also grapple with issues relating to the environment, food and character education through a Jewish lens. Students explore the spiritual meanings they can gain through their choices in everyday life. They study Biblical and Rabbinic sources to reinforce the Jewish values they explore. Students learn to draw insights from Jewish texts and ideas and formulate their own ideas.

8th Grade – Now that students are officially adults in the eyes of the Jewish community, they will begin to explore Jewish peoplehood.  Students will explore: What does it mean to be Jewish? How do I want to participate in the Jewish community? What responsibilities do I have in light of Jewish history, Jewish texts and traditions? At the heart of this course is Facing History and Ourselves’ “Holocaust and Human Behavior” curriculum. By studying the historical development of the Holocaust, students make connections between history and the moral choices they confront in their own lives.

9th Grade – Learning to discuss and debate difficult issues and respectfully hear opinions of multiple sides is something we all value. Through the lens of Jewish teachings students explore “Hot Topics”. Sudents are helped to form their own opinions informed by Jewish values on such hot topics as social media, gun ownership, Israel and other issues.

10th Grade (Confirmation) – Rabbi Myers personally teaches our tenth graders weekly on Tuesday nights.  She covers theological areas such as Jewish beliefs about God, afterlife, prayer, death, and messiah.  In addition, depending on the interests of the youth, she will also teach Jewish values as they relate to the holiness of our bodies, teen ethics, and responsibility towards people and the world around us. Some highlights are a latke and Hanukkah party at her home and making hamantaschen for Purim.  The year of learning culminates with the Confirmation service where the youth write their own prayers and take leadership of this beloved service. The voices of our choir makes the service even more beautiful.  As an aside, rabbi is also very understanding if teens need to miss class due to academic or activity commitments.  It is always a great year of learning and connection for our tenth graders.

Our Hebrew curriculum is as follows:

Hebrew is taught the way we naturally learn language. Starting in kindergarten students learn to identify the Hebrew letters and become familiar with the sounds of Hebrew through intimate tefillah (prayer) experiences, Hebrew singing, Hebrew music and Israeli dancing. Through a “Hebrew-rich” environment, games and hands-on learning, students become familiar with Hebrew letters, their sounds and learn to sight-read basic Hebrew words. In second and third grade children continue to reinforce their knowledge of the Hebrew letters and sounds and begin learning how to sight-read and decode Hebrew words.

In fourth grade, students begin to formally learn how to read Hebrew and also begin learning how to chant key Hebrew prayers and find meaning in them. In the fourth through seventh use the curriculum Hebrew in Harmony that uses the power of music to engage students with prayer. Through arts, movement, writing and other hands-on and reflective learning activities students delve into the prayers to find their own meaning in them. In sixth and seventh grades, students are also exposed to modern, conversational Hebrew.

Parents are invited to join their children in Jewish learning though periodic home-based projects, viewing videos sent home by school, attending a Shabbat service led by their children once a year, and by participating in an annual family education program where they learn on an adult level what their children are learning in the classroom and participate in a fun family experience. An annual mitzvah day and a congregational weekend retreat offer further opportunities for families to have fun Jewish experiences together.

Students complete our Jewish education program with the motivation and confidence to forge their own Jewish lives.