The Judaic Studies program at The Hebrew Academy fosters excitement, love and security in the child’s identity as a Jew. It provides for the required skills, understanding and knowledge of how and why to live as a productive Jewish citizen in our society.
In order to strive towards these objectives, the curriculum is designed with specifications tailored and individualized for The Hebrew Academy students. The detailed comprehensive curriculum is revised and updated each year to meet current needs, the advancement and growth of individual classes, and the unique strengths of its teachers.
The following represents a summary outline of the Judaic Studies curricula for grade 4.
Chumash in Grade 4 covers the stories of Joseph and his brothers in Parshas VaYeishev, and their sojourns to Egypt in Mikeitz and VaYigash, with the ultimate reestablishment of Yaakov and his family in Egypt in VaYechi. Students in fourth grade are aware of the stories from Parsha review in previous years. Emphasis will be placed on comprehension, translation and insights. Students will learn to read and understand passages on their own with occasional help from their teacher.
Rashi commentary is studied more intensely in fourth grade. Students were exposed to Rashi script in third grade. This year they will study Rashi passages, read them from the text and translate. They will discover the Rashi style in questioning and answering. A greater appreciation and understanding of the Chumash will be achieved through the study of Rashi.
The focus in studying Chumash will be on the values taught by the Torah, knowledge of the P’sukim (biblical passages) and Rashi’s commentary in their original Hebrew, the events and practices that make us a “Jewish People”, and our ties to the land of our forefathers.
Hebrew Language Arts in the fourth grade builds on the foundations previously set. The informal methods of learning a language such as “immersion:” or Ulpan will be continued. Students will be encouraged to speak in Hebrew in the classroom.
Formal language instruction will be increased. Grammar, sentence structure and correct usage will be reinforced through charts and analyses, and practiced through a multitude of workbook exercises and teacher prepared materials selected and designed for the particular class. Reading fluency and comprehension, writing and composition, vocabulary, and spelling will be further emphasized and advanced.
Hebrew language will be studied with an emphasis on comprehension (oral and written) and conversation. Students will read and understand simple stories from the HaMikra-ah Sheli text (Yonai). Grammar and usage will be taught and reinforced through the Yesodot HaLashon text (Yonai). Teacher selected and created materials will supplement these texts. Oral and written practice will take place in class and through homework assignments, thus ensuring that students internalize the grammatical principles and vocabulary they have been taught. Hebrew will be taught as a modern, living language with connections made to the biblical Hebrew of our Chumash study.
As previously learned traditions and practices will be reviewed in fourth grade, some will be studied in greater depth and new ideas, customs and concepts will be introduced. Knowledge of the holidays and routine Jewish customs and traditions will be reinforced. In addition, students will learn that sacred to the Jewish faith are its values, such as caring for and helping one another, sensitivity towards others, respect for parents and elders, and the importance of sharing our blessings with those in need.
Fourth graders will reinforce their recognition of Jewish objects in the synagogue and home. They will gain a greater understanding of how and why many of them are used.
For each holiday, students will learn why we celebrate the holiday and how we celebrate the holiday. The prayers associated with each holiday will be practiced in class and recited during Tefilla period. The story, important personalities and foods associated with each holiday will be reviewed and discussed in class. Students will gain an appreciation for our holidays and an understanding of the Jewish calendar and the cycle of the Jewish year.
The weekly Torah Portion will be continued each week and the students will participate in the school-wide Parsha program. Students will be responsible for a list of questions for which they will be tested the Monday following the reading of the Parsha. Through this program students will develop a foundation of knowledge of each Parsha. The goal of our Parshat Hashavua program is for our students to be able to answer more than 1,000 questions on facts in the Torah by the time they graduate from The Hebrew Academy.
Students are given the questions on Monday. They do some research at home and review in class. The questions and answers are posted on our website. On Thursday or Friday, students receive the official answer sheets. Many families review the Parsha questions and answers as a family activity at the Shabbat dinner table (highly recommended). Students are quizzed on the Parsha every Monday. If they answer 9 of the eleven questions, they are placed on the Parsha Honor Roll. Students must fill in the blanks for the “phrase-by-heart”. When the questions and answers are reviewed in class, teachers and students discuss insights on the Parsha. In addition to the basic knowledge of facts, a good understanding is also important.
Phonetic Reading/ Tefilla/ Biur Tefilla (prayer explanation):
Through participation in daily Tefilla (prayer) our students gain an understanding of and appreciation for the prayers. They recognize that our prayers are directed toward Hashem, that they include expression of gratitude as well as requests. The prayers said during morning Tefilla will be reviewed in class for understanding, both literal translation and deeper meaning. They will learn why and when we say each prayer. Tefilla is an essential part of Jewish observance and is stressed as an important part of everyday life.
By fourth grade, children are aware of and familiar with some formal congregational services. They have learned the chants as they are conducted in the Synagogue. This has been done in order to give the opportunity to our students to lead the services in their own houses of worship. In fourth grade these practices will be continued and expanded in order to reinforce what the children already know and to broaden their knowledge even further.
The students will learn the structure of the Siddur, how the prayers are grouped and how a selection of prayers constitute a particular service; which recitation is central to the service and which may be considered peripheral.
In addition to the “Geography of the Siddur” as described in the preceding paragraph, and the proper chants, emphasis will be placed on translation, such as the regular blessings, the first paragraph of the Shema and a few paragraphs in the Shmoneh Esray. Other prayers will be taught by themes, such as the morning Torah blessings, the Shmoneh Esray as a whole and the Birkat Hamazon. Children will also learn the names and locations of a variety of prayers and when they are recited. An objective in the latter area is to be able to find the place in the Siddur without being told the page number.
Oral reading practice to ensure proper reading fluency will be a regular class activity. As prayers from our Siddur are added to our daily Tefilla, they will be practiced and discussed in the class. Students will gain an appreciation for Tefilla. They will understand that our prayers are directed to Hashem and that in addition to requests; our prayers include recitations and expressions of gratitude.