Grades 1 to 7

OVERVIEW

Congregation Agudath Achim’s Religious School, located at the Jewish Community House (JCH) at 133 High Street in Taunton, provides a comprehensive curriculum for children from early childhood through high school in small classes with credentialed lead teachers.

To begin the conversation about your child becoming a part of our Religious School and your family becoming members of our community, please contact Joyce Antine at jewishtaunton@gmail.com

The mission of our Religious School is to develop Jewish adults who are able to develop a relationship with God and who can demonstrate love and pride in their Jewish heritage. Our students develop a strong understanding of Judaism to enable them to build their lives around its ethics, history and practices with an appreciation of, and basic skills in, the Hebrew language and for our spiritual homeland, Israel.

SCHEDULE

Our school year mirrors that of secular schools, with a start date right after Labor Day and concluding around Memorial Day, with appropriate breaks for secular and Jewish holidays.

Classes for Grades 1 to 7 are held on Sunday mornings from 9:30 to 11:30 AM and on Thursday afternoons from 4:00 to 5:30 PM.  Our class sizes are small – at most 10 students per classroom, frequently with an adult or teen teacher aide participating in class lessons.

Our educational programming for children younger than first grade and the adults in their lives is described in the overview page Shalom Kids – Young Children.

Our educational and social programming for teens past B’nai Mitzvah is described on the Teens page.

Please check here for full information about B’nai Mitzvah education.

CURRICULUM

Grades 1 to 7 – Judaics:

The CHAI curriculum, developed for synagogue religious schools by the educational leadership team at the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and used in both Reform and Conservative religious schools, is based on three vital threads of Judaism: Torah (study) Avodah (worship), and Gemilut Hasadim (behaving righteously). The enduring understandings for each of these threads may be summarized as follows:

Torah

  • Torah is an ongoing dialogue between the text and the students
  • Torah is real in our daily lives; it goes with us wherever we are
  • Developing the skills to study Torah is essential to integrating Torah into our daily lives

 Avodah (Worship)

  • Avodah is the work we do to find sacred connections to God, community and self
  • Engaging in the work of Avodah can bring order, beauty, meaning and insight into our lives and our community

Gemilut Hasadim (Behaving Righteously)

  • We have a personal responsibility to perform acts of Gemilut Hasadim in order to make the world a better and holier place

Grades 1 to 7 – Hebrew: 

Our students begin learning the Hebrew Alef-Bet in Shalom Kids, our preschool family education program.  In first and second grades they continue enhancing their skills with the alphabet and core, everyday Hebrew vocabulary.  One way is through Hebrew Through Movement (more below).

As students begin third grade they begin working at an individual pace with a teacher or teen guide with Let’s Learn Hebrew Sided by Side – a very hands on approach for learning to decode Hebrew.

At the conclusion of Let’s Learn Hebrew Side by Side our students move into our core Hebrew program – Mitkadem – a part of the CHIA curriculum from the Reform movement.

Students study independently and in small groups with teachers and teens who are “guides by the side” rather than “sages on the stage”.  Accommodations are made for learning styles and abilities.  All students begin with the first post-decoding level (called a Ramah in Hebrew; Ramot is plural) – Ramah 3 and work their way through, possibly, Ramah 23 by the time they complete 7th grade.  The average student completes four to six Ramot a year.

As students work on the Amidah (“standing” prayer, central to all Jewish prayer services) they can challenge themselves with the I’m Gonna Stand Up! out-of-school independent learning project.

We are also a “Hebrew Through Movement” school.  Hebrew Through Movement is a language acquisition strategy in which students learn Hebrew by hearing and responding to Hebrew commands.  Hebrew Through Movement is an adaptation of James J. Asher’s Total Physical Response (TPR) (as fully described in his book Learning a Second Language Through Actions, 7th edition 2009). While TPR was designed by Asher as the foundation of a full language program, it has also been effective in situations such as ours with limited language goals.

Several videos are available to help you become more familiar with this approach.

FACULTY

We pride ourselves on maintaining an experienced faculty of credentialed lead teachers assisted by adult assistant teachers, volunteer teachers, teen teacher aides (madrikhim) and teen Hebrew buddies (ozrim).

Religious School faculty includes Principal, Rabbi/Cantor Anne Heath and Teachers Stacey Gay, Gail Nathan, Josh Sherman and Jessica Yarman.  You can find out more about their background and experience on the Our Faculty page.

We appreciate the classroom and  individual assistance our teen teacher aides (madrikhim) provide, especially during Hebrew lessons: Sam(antha), Charlotte, Amaya, Ethan and Sarah. Also, former teacher Nancy Marin continues to provide education through special holiday programming.

The Religious School Committee, chaired by Lauren Coelho, meets regularly to establish and review policies and procedures. In addition, they plan holiday celebrations for our students and organize fundraisers for our school. The full committee consists of Lisa Bellardino, Lauren Coelho, Stacey Gay, Gail Peckman, Emily Richmond and Martha Silva.

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