Open Hearts. Open Minds. Strong Values.
Beginning with preschool and continuing through high school graduation, CBI Religious School provides a curricular plan that encompasses a wide range of Jewish subjects including Jewish holidays, history, ethics, lifecycle observances, Bible, prayer, current events, Israel, and the Hebrew language. Students who successfully complete the program should have a strong and positive Jewish identity and are able to express their Jewish commitment through Jewish living.
Kindergarten: Jewish Stories and Values
We begin the formal study of Bible in the third grade. However, a great deal of Jewish values have always been conveyed in different sources, such as Talmudic stories and folktales; think of Hillel standing on one foot, or King Solomon and the Bee. In the Kindergarten we continue to work with some basic Jewish vocabulary and prayers (such as the Shema) along with the important values gained from these Jewish “master stories.”
Grade 1: Jewish Holidays/“Thinking About God”
Children at this age already have a curiosity about matters theological. “Where did Grandpa go when he died?” “Why does God cause hurricanes that kill people?” Our goal is to engage each child in this conversation, giving them a spiritual vocabulary appropriate to their age, while resisting the temptation to “explain” or to impose a single idea about God. We also work to deepen their understanding of the Jewish holidays as they take place throughout the year.
Grade 2: Jewish Values from Alef to Tav
The second grade is learning about a specific set of 8-10 Jewish values, such as derekh eretz (right behavior towards other people), tzedakah (righteous action), kibud av va’em (honoring parents and elders), bikur holim (visiting the sick) and more. One way students get exposure to these values is through the study of Jewish art and artists. In the second grade we also teach letter recognition of the Alef-Bet.
Grade 3: Bible Stories (I)
The third grade curriculum is under revision; more information will be coming soon.
Grade 4: Biblical Heroes and The Jewish Lifecycle
The fourth grade continues learning Bible stories, with an eye towards what these stories teach about leadership. They also learn about major milestones in the Jewish lifecycle, from birth through b'nei mitzvah, marriage, family and death. A highlight of this year is the class planning of a second “wedding” for one set of class parents.
Grade 5: Israel
The fifth grade studies about the land and people of Israel. This includes geography, ancient and modern history, the story of Zionism, as well as the various ethnic and religious groups which make up the mosaic of modern Israel. Israeli music and culture are also included. Our goal is to cultivate a love of Israel, while also beginning to explore its complexities.
Grade 6: Jewish History
The sixth grade studies Jewish history from ancient to modern times.
Grade 7: TBA
The seventh grade curriculum is under revision; more information will be coming soon.
Grade 8: Mitzvah Corps and Madrichim-in-TraininThe eighth grade curriculum is under revision; more information will be coming soon.
HEBREW LANGUAGE STUDY
Hebrew/Prayer (Grades 3-7)
Hebrew Language Study begins in third grade, at which point students will come from 9:40 a.m.-12:10 p.m. on Sundays and from 6-7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays in order to have ample time to study Hebrew, learn prayers, explore and discuss these prayers in an interactive way, and engage in other Judaic studies. By seventh grade, our students are able to read (and possibly chant) from the Torah, and chant a Haftarah on the occasion of their becoming a bar/bat mitzvah. They have also mastered the basic blessings for Shabbat and other holidays that enable them to be participants in ritual life in a Jewish home, and they will have an understanding about the meaning of these prayers and rituals.
Chug Electives (Grades 3-5)
In addition to the core curriculum, third through fifth grade students have the opportunity to choose from a variety of subjects, taught with a hands-on approach.
Current chugim include:
- A Taste of Israel: students learn to cook Israeli recipes, each of which has a story to accompany it.
- Bending with B'reishit: students do yoga, guided by and connected to the Biblical story of Creation.
- Painting our Personalities, the Colors of our Character: students learn a Jewish value or character trait each week, and paint their own interpretation or representation of it.
- Burps, Blood, and More; Asher Yatzar: students learn about the anatomy of the human body and explore how awe and wonder about the body show up in traditional morning prayers, especially Asher Yatzar.
- Lights, Camera, Action; Bibliodrama: students play Jewish drama games and create and act out plays of our Torah stories.
HEBREW HIGH SCHOOL
Hebrew High School is a learning environment for the entire high school community, and consists of twenty meetings on Wednesday nights, spread about evenly over the fall and spring semesters. We plan our schedule in such a way that each semester of Hebrew High School ends a few weeks before the regular high school semester, leaving students free to attend to all those final projects, final concerts and final exams which are part of their regular high school schedule.
Our curriculum covers different aspects of Jewish living, Jewish history, and contemporary issues, including but not limited to, social justice. We like to bring in guest teachers, so students can meet some of the very interesting people who are a part of our Jewish community at CBI and from the larger Charlottesville community to learn from their personal experiences. Popular Israeli and American television episodes are frequently used as a jumping off point for Jewish conversation. In the tenth grade students spend the last part of the year preparing for Kabbalat Torah/Confirmation, which is celebrated on Erev Shavuot each year.