Religious School

Religious School
The Rabbi Sidney and Shirley Steiman Religious School

Our goal is to develop a positive, joyous and informed Jewish identity that links home and synagogue. Religious School is offered for Kindergarten through tenth grade. 11th & 12th graders participate in a monthly Rabbis’ seminar. Our one-session school meets on Sunday mornings from 9:30 to noon and teaches Jewish history, customs and celebrations, Jewish thought and values. Special huggim (clubs) complement more formal instruction. Time is devoted not only to developing important skills and knowledge, but to nurturing the life of the spirit. Family Shabbat & holiday programming supplements our Sunday classes.

For additional information, please contact George Kelley, Education Director, 253-3441 or gkelley {at} bez613(.)org.


Each year the Beth-El Zedeck Rabbi Sidney and Shirley Steiman Religious School builds upon the knowledge gained during the previous year. Each class studies Torah, God/Belief, Israel and Peoplehood and Lifecycle events with activities and stories appropriate to their particular age group. This education can be summarized as follows:


Torah: Introduction to Jewish ideas, values and stories
God /Belief
: The synagogue and the role of Rabbis and Cantor. Basic prayers are introduced
Israel/ Peoplehood
: Israel through songs and stories
: Students are introduced to the Holy Days through celebration, song and ritual.

First Grade

Torah: Bible stories: Creation through Abraham and Sarah
God /Belief
: Major prayers of the services and special Holy Day blessings
Israel/ Peoplehood
: Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people
: Holy Days through children’s literature
Additional Material
: Hebrew Enrichment before formal Hebrew instruction begins

Second Grade

Torah: Bible stories from Abraham and Sarah through Moses and the Exodus
God /Belief
: What we believe about God; the meaning behind familiar prayers
Israel/ Peoplehood
: The land of Israel in the early history of our people
Lifecycle/Calendar: Holy Days and their central values, e.g. Yom Kippur – forgiveness; Sukkot – Thanksgiving
Additional Material: Hebrew Enrichment before formal Hebrew instruction begins

Third Grade

Torah: Bible: The Early Prophets; the stories of Joshua, the Judges, Samuel and Kings
God /Belief
: The meaning of holiness as expressed in the rituals and symbols of Jewish tradition
Israel/ Peoplehood
: History of the building of the modern state and its geography
: The major prayers and customs of the Holy Days ( i.e. Ushpizim, Al HaNisim, Tu BiShevat Seder, Shelach Manot )

Fourth Grade

Torah: Bible: The later Prophets; Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah and Amos
God /Belief
: The meaning of prayer. Why pray? To whom do we pray? As expressed in the rituals and symbols of Jewish tradition
Israel/ Peoplehood
: Jews around the world—how we are connected
Lifecycle/Calendar: The Jewish Calendar: how we count time

Fifth Grade

Torah: Rabbinic Torah Commentary.
God /Belief: The Jewish lifecycle from birth to death—rituals and ceremonies
Israel/ Peoplehood: Jewish history – the emergence of Rabbinic Judaism (2nd Century B.C.E. – 6th Century C.E.)
Lifecycle/Calendar: How the Holy Days evolved from the Bible to the present

Sixth Grade and Seventh Grades

These two years are tied together and much of the study carries from one year into the next.

Torah: Read your lives into Torah.
God /Belief: Finding God: What does our tradition say? What do we say? Our neighbors’ religions and traditions: Christianity, Islam, Eastern traditions
Israel/ Peoplehood: Jewish history – Middle Ages to the beginning of Modernity (7th Century – 18th Century C.E.); great Jewish personalities and the beginnings of Zionism
Lifecycle/Calendar: Holy Days beyond Honey Cake, Hanukah candles, and Hamantashen
Additional Material: Rabbis’ Bar/Bat Mitzvah Family Seminar

Religious School

Eighth Grade

Torah: Holocaust Literature
God /Belief: Faith in light of the tragic events of the Holocaust
Israel/ Peoplehood: Jewish History in the Modern Age: from the Holocaust to the establishment of the state of Israel and the rise of American Judaism
Lifecycle/Calendar: Yom HaShoa; Yom Ha’Atzmaut; Commemoration of tragedy and celebration of survival and renewal.

Ninth Grade

Torah: Current events through the lens of Judaism
God /Belief: The evolution of the Jewish construction of God
Israel/ Peoplehood: The movements of Judaism: Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Orthodox; introduction to Jewish mysticism
Lifecycle/Calendar: Bible readings for the Holy Days, e.g. Jonah, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Song of Songs

Tenth Grade

Torah: Job: Exploring questions of good and evil; Ruth: Shavuot Jewish identity
God /Belief: An introduction to Jewish thinkers, i.e. Heschel, Buber, Kaplan, etc.
Israel/ Peoplehood: What does Judaism say about current ethical dilemmas? Euthanasia, abortion, capital punishment, free speech, separation of church and state, etc.
Lifecycle/Calendar: What are we confirming?
Additional Material: Jewish trip to New York City with the Rabbis; Tikkun Olam program throughout the year