Mercaz -- Inside Our Classrooms
The youngest of our students begin their Mercaz journey interactively. They build a connection with each other and with Torah through hearing, singing about, and finding themselves in our stories. They work on recognition of the letters of the Aleph-Bet, exploring how they look, how they sound, and how they can be formed. Holidays come to life in story, song, and dance. Students rotate through stations each day, using different ways of learning: visual, verbal, tactile, and movement. All the while they are learning basic Hebrew vocabulary and prayers. It is a full day for all of them!
FIRST AND SECOND GRADE
Students in this class firm up their knowledge of the Aleph-Bet, learning the way the letters look and sound, and how to write them. They begin to associate the letters with important Hebrew words. Next they begin to blend sounds using vowels, and find that the sounds they know help them to read words in texts and in prayers. Stories and texts are introduced to familiarize them with the the Torah portion of the week. They learn the cycle of the holidays and what is special about each one. Students begin to build a relationship with the land of Israel through its major cities and sites.
THIRD AND FOURTH GRADE
Students in this class gain increasing confidence in their Hebrew vocabulary, through decoding words and understanding their meaning. They add to their knowledge of Torah stories by learning more about the characters, their behaviors, and their lives. In class discussions, students are encouraged to apply the stories to their own lives, helping the Torah to come alive. Lessons focus on the background and meaning of the holidays and their rituals and blessings. Israel is presented to them in amore personal way, encouraging them to understand not only its connection with their ancestors, but how it connects to them.
FIFTH AND SIXTH GRADE
Hebrew instruction builds on previous learning and focuses on reading and chanting the prayers that are a part of our Shabbat morning service. This practice is supported by instruction from the Cantor and leads seamlessly into future preparation for Bar and Bat Mitzvah. Torah study focuses on the different ethics and values that we glean from the texts, learning to use Torah as a guide for our behavior. Further study of Israel includes more of its history, how it came to be, how it continues to exist, and what it contributes to the world. Holidays are studied in more depth, looking at their Biblical and historical roots and the deeper reasons for their observance.
Students at this level receive their Hebrew and prayer instruction through Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutoring. In class they increase their understanding of our Torah and its characters through the study of Midrash and other texts, helping them appreciate the social responsibility of each Jew based on the principles laid out by our rabbinic sages. Their understanding of Israel now explores early Zionism and the modern rebirth of the Jewish state and their own role in the unfolding of Jewish history. Students come to feel the relationship between Eretz Yisrael / the Land of Israel, and Am Yisrael, the people Israel. They study some of the great debates of Judaism and are given opportunities to judge them on their own and to gain skills in constructive disagreement, taking a stand and defending it.