As Congregation Kneseth Israel celebrates 100 years of serving the Jewish community in Anne Arundel County, we are proud to reinstitute our Hebrew School. Up until 1993 when the local congregations consolidated their Hebrew schools, Kneseth Israel Synagogue had its own Hebrew and Sunday School. That tradition of Jewish education, under the dedicated leadership of Rabbi Morris Rosenblatt and Cantor Henry Hammer, turned out graduates who today lead services, read from the Torah, and are active members of their congregations, both in Annapolis and elsewhere. We look to continuing that tradition of excellence in Jewish education under the tutelage of Rabbi Moshe Weisblum.
The mission of our Hebrew School is to create a place where children receive traditional Hebrew and Jewish education, so that the next generation of Jewish leaders will be grounded in the values and traditions of the Jewish faith and heritage.
Educational Philosophy We intend to provide an educational alternative for parents who wish to pass on the traditions and importance of Judaism to their children. We want to help families tap into Hebrew and Jewish education to ensure that the next generation will grow up richly enjoying, understanding and practicing the Jewish traditions.
We want to provide the opportunity to learn and appreciate Hebrew, Jewish history, prayers, and rituals. Through the use of the Synagogue’s resources and a unique curriculum taught by our own Rabbi Moshe P. Weisblum, we believe we can provide a rich, cultural enrichment for families to enjoy together.
As an extension of Kneseth Israel, the school also reaches out to those Jewish families who are not involved with a congregation and may not have a strong background in Judaism, but who are looking for practical ways to instill their faith and culture into the lives of their children.
Vision Our vision is to attract younger families to our congregation by providing the support and tools necessary to encourage and supplement the Hebrew and Jewish education of the children of the community. Regardless of religious background or level of observance, students at our Hebrew School will acquire a broad-based knowledge of Judaism in an appealing and enriching environment. Our teachers will not merely give out facts, but will relate to the children individually and take genuine interest in their personal success. Ultimately, students will learn and will have fun as they gain insight into their faith and heritage.
Curriculum The curriculum at the Kneseth Israel Hebrew School will promote the Jewish values of charity, love and kindness, compassion, love of Torah, love of Jewish traditions, and being connected to G-d. It will emphasize the study of the Hebrew language, including reading, writing and vocabulary, Torah studies, and Jewish history. The curriculum will be enhanced by arts & crafts projects tied to holiday celebrations, including skits, songs, model Seders, making items for the Sukkah, and creating a Menorah. Each class will follow a grade-appropriate textbook and teachers will follow carefully constructed lesson plans.
The curriculum includes:
· acquiring reading and writing proficiency in Hebrew language and vocabulary,
· examining the weekly Torah portion,
· studying the various eras of Jewish history from the birth of Abraham to modern times, and
· participating in hands-on activities that range from sand art to Mezuzah covers and other traditional holiday projects.
The Role of Parents
Parents will be encouraged to take an active role in the Jewish education of their children. On Sundays, while the children are in class, Rabbi Weisblum will be available to meet with parents for a discussion session on topics related to parenting and Jewish values. Examples of topics include handling a family crisis, teaching kids self-control and self-discipline, and talking to children about religious issues. In this way, both parents and students will take home the lessons of the day, adding to and creating new Jewish family traditions. Specific Objectives
Phase One Hebrew School 1. Learn the Hebrew alphabet (consonants and vowels) and begin to read. 2. Learn to read the blessings for the Candles, Kiddush, Hanukah, and the Four Questions for Passover. 3. Attend worship services with family once a month.
Phase Two Hebrew School
1. Improve skill in reading Hebrew. 2. Develop solid reading fluency of the Shabbat worship prayers. 3. Increase Hebrew prayer vocabulary. 4. Introduce the structure of the Hebrew language. 5. Attend worship services with family once a month?
Phase Three Hebrew School 1. Review all prayers learned in Hebrew I & II, and those necessary for the successful celebration of the Bar or Bat Mitzvah. 2. Discuss prayers as a part of the Bar or Bat Mitzvah experience. 3. Gain a better understanding of the organizational outline and meaning of a typical Shabbat worship service. 4. Attend worship services with family twice monthly?
Post Bar and Bat Mitzvah Students interested in continuing their Jewish studies following Bar and Bat Mitzvah will meet once a week with a teacher for advanced discussions of Jewish topics and continued Hebrew language study.
Homework Students will be much more successful if they practice their Hebrew every day. Students should spend five minutes each day reading aloud to a parent or doing other assignments. A short time every day is much more beneficial than a longer time once a week.
Requirements for Bar or Bat Mitzvah 1. Complete the three phase Hebrew program. 2. Attend worship services with families twice a month. 3. Learn the Torah and Haftorah portion and be able to lead the worship service either Erev Shabbat or Shabbat Morning.
Tentative School Schedule
Required Day: Sunday
9:30 to 9:50 a.m.
Communal morning prayer in the small Chapel. Through selected songs, chants and prayers students will be exposed to Hebrew in a way that is relevant to their faith. Special songs suitable for younger students will be sung so the children can follow and join in. The meaning of the prayers will also be explained.
10 to 10:45 a.m.
Modern Hebrew will be taught to older students. The younger children will learn Hebrew writing, reading and comprehension. The flashcard approach will be supplemented by other innovative new educational tools to enhance the foreign language skills of the student.
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Special subjects will be taught, such as learning about the High Holidays with a focus on the shofar and holiday prayers. A special visit to a company that manufactures shofars is planned. For other holidays, students will build a Sukkot as a class, and learn about the traditions and the true meanings behind Purim, Passover, etc. The goal is to make the holidays relevant.
Second Day: Wednesday
Wednesday from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
The activities on Wednesday will be a continuation of Sunday’s lessons, including Hebrew study, mastering prayers, and learning about Jewish holidays and traditions.
The general objectives of the Kneseth Israel Hebrew School are to develop and strengthen:
1. Jews who express pride in their heritage, who are excited about being Jewish, who observe and practice Jewish traditions, and who desire to transmit knowledge of and enthusiasm for their tradition to those who come after them.
2. Jews who are familiar with the rituals and customs associated with Shabbat and the holidays, who understand the reasons for these observances, and who celebrate these occasions appropriately.
3. Jews who can describe the different ways Jews have conceptualized God throughout history, and who can affirm and act upon a personal perspective of G-d and spirituality.
4. Jews who have a clear understanding of the nature of prayer - what it is and why we pray - who are knowledgeable and comfortable with the structure and contents of the prayer book, and who themselves participate in tefilah with Kavanah.
5. Jews who can explain the important values and mitzvot which have guided Jews for 4,000 years, who know the reasons for Jewish devotion to these values, and who themselves are committed to live by these values.
6. Jews who understand the place of Hebrew in Jewish tradition, and who cherish and use this holy language of the Jewish people during synagogue worship and home celebrations.
7. Jews who are familiar with the origins and meanings of Jewish customs and practices, including life cycle events and all forms of Jewish practice, and who observe these Jewish ceremonies on the significant occasions in their lives.
8. Jews who enthusiastically support and participate in the life of the synagogue, their Jewish community, and their community at large.
9. Jews who see themselves as an important link in the chain of Am Yisrael, the Jewish people, for whom the history of the Jewish people is familiar, meaningful, and central.
10. Jews who affirm their historic bond to Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel who visit Israel and who work for its well-being.
Goal #1: To provide a course of Hebrew language study for all our eligible students, whether or not they and their families elect to celebrate either the Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
Goal #2: To introduce our students, primarily in grades 5, 6 and 7, to their Lashon Hakodesh (holy language), to its reading, its writing, its vocabulary, and its viability, in the world today and exemplified by both the world of Tefillah (prayer) and the world of Eretz Yisrael (land of Israel). To this end, a variety of texts, instructional aid, and approaches are used.
Goal #3: To enable those young people who elect to become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah to comfortably and maturely participate in the conduct of the Shabbat worship service, by leading the congregation in the major portions of the worship service itself, and reading or chanting a selection from both the Torah and Haftorah weekly selections together with the attendant four Brachot (blessings).
Why is Hebrew Necessary? The late, renowned Rabbi and teacher, Dr. Emanuel Gamoran, presented the following reasons for studying Hebrew:
1. Hebrew is the language of the Torah. 2. Hebrew is the language of the Siddur and Machzor (prayer books). 3. Ability to participate intelligently in the worship service depends upon knowledge of Hebrew. 4. Hebrew serves as a bond of union between all the Jews throughout the world. 5. Knowledge of Hebrew, pursued intensively, opens up such sources of Jewish literature as the Mishnah, medieval Hebrew poetry, and philosophy. 6. Modern Hebrew is the spoken tongue of the majority of Jews now living in Israel and a great many others around the world. 7. Every Jewish group should provide Hebrew language education for its children sufficiently intensive to develop a number who will be capable of Jewish leadership in the community. 8. Hebrew is a means of helping Jewish people survive. 9. Our literature concerns itself with many religious and ethical ideals which are linguistically untranslatable, but which are reflective of the noble spirit of our Jewish people. 10. The emotional values derived from a study of Hebrew speak for themselves.