The first year in Religious School is devoted to getting acquainted. In our combined Junior and Senior Kindergarten we strive to develop positive attitudes about our synagogue, our people and our religion. The Rabbi, the Cantor and the Religious School teachers all become familiar friends to our Kindergarten students. Through experiential activities, the children are taken on a voyage of discovery of all the Jewish holidays and our favourite Bible heroes.
The introduction of concepts of belonging and learning as important Jewish values is a central focus in this year of study. The Jewish holidays continue to occupy an important part of the curriculum as the children begin to feel important to the Temple community. Hebrew games, songs, and lively activities are designed to accustom young ears to the sound of Hebrew and a special highlight of this year is the Consecration celebration.
Using A Child's Bible, Book 1, the children become acquainted with the patriarchs and matriarchs as found in the Book of Genesis. Thus, they begin the lifelong process of study and application of Bible to their own tradition of our past. This is the year that families are encouraged to share in the tradition of our past and become active partners in their children's Jewish education by reading the stories together.
Teachers and parents often find it difficult to talk about God. Using the text, Partners With God, Jewish concepts of God and holiness are introduced providing the children with a Jewish vocabulary for thinking and talking about God. An age-appropriate text of the Ten Commandments enables the children to relate the values and issues, which emerge from their discussions to feelings and experiences in their own lives.
Throughout this year, the children trace the life cycle of a Jew from birth to death, using The Book of Jewish Life as a resource. They study these most important customs and ceremonies using varied and interesting materials. An introduction to modern-day Israel through a variety of creative resource material and activities is an integral part of this year.
Fifth grade students' curriculum is relevant and challenging for the eager curious mind of the ten-year-old child. The children trace their own family history using family members as resources, then take a brief look at the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. After travelling with the Jews from Europe to North America, they delve into the past and present of our own Jewish community. The class becomes familiar with the Jewish agencies in Toronto - their history, functions and services - and meet with representatives from the various institutions. The children strive to develop an understanding of their Jewish identity and responsibility in relationship to their families, and their community using the text, Making a Difference.
The Grade Six students, now equipped with a general understanding of Jewish history, customs and ceremonies, begin an in-depth study of the ethical and moral dimensions of Jewish life. Using the text, Exploring Jewish Ethics and Values, they confront a series of moral dilemmas and encounter core Jewish values. Prayer, as a part of the ethical dimension of Judaism, is studied using a variety of texts exploring the content and meaning of prayer.
The Grade Seven students encounter an especially meaningful program in this, their bar/bat mitzvah year. The book, Learning Torah, is used as the basic text in conjunction with the Jewish Publication Society's Holy Scriptures. Each student studies the general structure of the Tanach, learning how to utilise it as a source of inspiration and understanding. Various sections, chapters and verses are studied and analysed, leaving the seventh graders equipped with skills for further inquiry.
Grade Eight students examine the major movements in Judaism, with emphasis on Reform Judaism. Using the text, Judaism and the World's Religions, the students consider the origins of Orthodoxy, Conservatism, Reform and Reconstructionism including what each movement stands for. Armed with their newly acquired knowledge, the students proceed to an exploration and comparison of the basic philosophies behind Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Field trips to various synagogues, churches and mosques enrich the total learning experience.
PRE-CONFIRMATION (Grade Nine)
Beginning with a brief survey of Jewish history, students examine the events that took place in Europe from 1933-1945, exploring the impact that period of history has had on the Jewish people and on the world. They continue their search for answers to these questions through the exploration of current Bioethical questions from a Jewish perspective. Games, role playing, and discussion groups are important learning tools during this year. There are two weekends of study and fun at Steinbrook Retreat Centre. In May, the course culminates in a trip to New York City where the students visit Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and the Lower East Side.
CONFIRMATION (Grade Ten)
In this unique program, students develop their own personal responses to the question of what it means to be a Jew. The year is divided into five units, each of which highlights a different facet of the students' Jewish identities. They are: IDENTITY, LIFE CYCLE, JEWISH TEXTS, REFORM JUDAISM AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, and ISRAEL. By the end of this enjoyable and stimulating year, students should have the knowledge and sentiment necessary to be able to make informed choices among the many avenues in Jewish life open to them. Two retreat weekends at Steinbrook Retreat Centre provide a setting that is conducive to intensive study, Shabbat experience and recreation.
Our students begin formal Hebrew studies in Grade One. They are introduced to the Hebrew alphabet, and develop a familiarity with the Hebrew language and whole word recognition. In subsequent grades, the focus of our Hebrew curriculum is on tefillah (prayer). Using a series of texts published by Behrman House, the children develop the Hebrew skills necessary to actively participate in all aspects of Reform Jewish life. We concentrate on teaching Hebrew reading fluency combined with contextual understanding. Services are held on a regular basis, enabling students to use their new skills in an active and appropriate way. The students are also introduced to Hebrew as a living language by developing a basic modern Hebrew vocabulary using a series of modern Hebrew dialogues. A variety of interesting and creative activities are used to make the learning of Hebrew an enjoyable experience. We offer an individualised Hebrew program for learners with special needs.
The youth activities at Temple Emanu-El provide children and teens with an outlet for social interaction within a Jewish framework. Programs include social, cultural and religious events in conjunction with Temple life. There are three divisions: Junior, Grades 4-6, Intermediate, Grades 7-8, and Senior or FEISTEY, Grades 9-13. A youth advisor, whose role is to plan and implement a variety of programs throughout the year, leads each youth group. Information about Youth Group activities are conveyed through flyers and phone calls.
For further information please contact the School Office (416) 449-3872.
Students in grades 4-8 have the opportunity to become part of our Junior Choir. Students rehearse on Sundays before Hebrew School, from 9:00 to 9:40 a.m. The Junior Choir performs at our Family Services.
The Adult Education Committee of Temple Emanu-El presents a myriad of programs for adults on Wednesday and Sunday mornings. This innovative and stimulating program is open to all Temple Emanu-El members. Over the years we have had an amazing list of expert and talented speakers take us on journeys of exploration in a variety of subjects including Jewish History, Literature, Philosophy, Theology and much more.
Check the monthly calendar on this web site for dates and times or call the Temple Office: (416) 449-3880 for detailed information. The Temple publishes a comprehensive Adult Education Brochure that includes the schedule, list of speakers and their bios.
Should it be necessary to cancel classes due to inclement weather, we will announce the closing on CHUM FM and CFRB. Please listen to your radio or check with the school office (416) 449-3872.