Pillars of Instruction

The Gimmel - Vav curriculum is organized around five Pillars of Instruction

  • The Language of the Jewish People (Hebrew),
  • The Sacred Texts of the Jewish People (Bible and Rabbinic Literature),
  • The Story of the Jewish People (History/Israel),
  • The Practices and Values of the Jewish People (Jewish Living), and
  • The Spirit of the Jewish People (Prayer, God, Theology).

The first four of these pillars are covered in the classroom on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, while the final pillar forms the basis of our Shabbat experience. This curriculum provides students with a choice in selecting the courses they are most interested in studying. For example, students can choose to go “broad” (selecting classes from each pillar) or go “deep” (selecting classes focusing in one or two pillars).  Gimmel and Daled students take grade-level foundational Hebrew courses. Heh and Vav students have the choice of selecting either “Prayer Hebrew” or “Conversational Hebrew” as they move through the program.


Language of the Jewish People Pillar

Hebrew (H)
(Students will attend one period of Hebrew each non-Shabbat day attended.)

A goal of our Religious School program is for students to have the Hebrew competency to be able to participate in Junior Congregation, home and synagogue ceremonies, and of course, for them to be prepared for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
In grades Gimmel and Daled, the Hebrew/Prayer class emphasizes basic reading skills and prayers.
In Heh and Vav, students can continue along the Hebrew/Prayer track, or they may select a Hebrew Conversational track which will focus mostly on Modern Hebrew (but will spend 10-15 minutes per lesson on prayers).
By the end of Vav, students will read Hebrew, will have rich Hebrew vocabulary, and will know and understand prayers from Friday night and Shabbat Morning services.

Sacred Texts of the Jewish People (ST) Pillar

Bible and Rabbinic Literature


Since we stood at the foot of Mount Sinai, Jewish text has been the center of Jewish life. Our sacred texts contain the stories that shape who we are. They convey values, attitudes and concepts of how we view and understand the world. Text is fundamental to Judaism, inspiring tremendous devotion and controversy. Even the Torah is not without its challenging points, especially in light of modern values. However, the basic truths and wisdom in Jewish text have spoken to millions of people for thousands of years and continue to do so today.


Story of the Jewish People (SJP) Pillar

Jewish History & Israel
The Story of the Jewish People presents a remarkable tale of courage, resilience and adaptation. This pillar provides a broad overview of the Jewish experience. Its main objective is to teach the students how the Jewish people have flourished by learning from the past, addressing the needs of the present and investing in the future.
The essence of Zionism: Jewish people taking their destiny into their own hands. Jewish settlers acquired land, grew their population, earned political power, developed an economy and expressed self-determination all leading to the establishment and sustenance of the Jewish State.  While Israel is universally known as the ancient land and people of the Bible, it is today a dynamic, living and breathing nation. As we take a closer look at Israel, its history, geography, population, politics and culture, we should not forget that it remains G-d's specially chosen nation, the land of our people since Biblical times.
Jewish History
These courses help students to better understand Judaism’s past so that they can begin to plan for Judaism’s future.


Practices and Values of the Jewish People (JL) Pillar

Jewish Living (JL)
What does it mean to be a Jew? While there are elements of identity and belief, there are also elements of practice - doing what Jews have always done and thus linking ourselves to previous generations and bringing holiness into our lives.  Judaism’s 613 mitzvoth (commandments) guide Jewish practice. The question is not how many of the hundreds of mitzvoth we choose to follow but how we might sanctify even the ordinary moments in our life through these rituals.  Classroom discussions will examine many of the core Jewish practices and values, including Shabbat, holidays, tzedakah, community, tolerance and personal responsibility.


Spirit of the Jewish People Pillar

Prayer, God, Theology
This pillar forms the basis of our Shabbat experience.  The Shabbat component of the Gimmel - Vav curriculum is designed as a family experience. Gimmel, Daled, and Heh students attend classes in which they study Holidays in Gimmel, Lifecycles in Daled, and God/Theology in Heh.  Following the class, they attend Junior Congregation together.  Vav students attend Vav Seminar and then enter the Main Service as a class.