At a Glance

Congregation Schaarai Zedek: Religious School at a Glance

Enrollment: about 375 students in grades Pre-K through 9th grade

Teachers and Staff: about 40 teachers, nearly as many Teacher Assistants, and two full-time staff


Pre-Kindergarten: Exploring and Celebrating Jewish holidays and festivals. Our Pre-K students learn about and celebrate the Jewish holidays as they lay the foundation for further Jewish learning. Their learning is marked by Consecration, a meaningful ceremony to mark the start of their Jewish education. Children age 4 by September 1 are welcome to join the Pre-K class!

Kindergarten: Our Jewish World: The Joy of Being Jewish. Experiencing the Jewish holidays and Shabbat through stories, art projects, games, plays, dancing, and songs.

First Grade: Our Jewish Homes: What it means to be a Jew. In addition to Jewish holidays and Shabbat, students are introduced to the meaning of prayer, tzedakah and mitzvot, and the Jewish symbols in their homes. The curriculum combines art, music, dance, songs, and stories from the Bible, Midrash, and Talmud. Students begin to get familiar with Hebrew and work towards identifying letters, vowels, and their sounds.

Second Grade: A Look at the First Book of the Torah: Ideas and Heroes. Acquainting students with the Book of Genesis through discussions, drama, art, videos, and games. Students begin the year with a review of holidays through the lens of God and our universe, before beginning to learn about the Torah. Students will continue to work with the Hebrew alphabet and begin to get familiar with the letters and prepare to read in 3rd grade.

Third Grade: Jewish Values and our Synagogue. This curriculum reinforces students’ connection to Schaarai Zedek and their Judaism as a whole. This year, students split their morning between dedicated Jewish Studies and Hebrew classes. In Hebrew, they begin with letters, vowels, and basic decoding.

Fourth Grade: Heros and our Bible. This curriculum examines Jewish heroes and how our students can relate to their journeys. Fourth graders explore concepts relating to God, as well as how Jewish values relate to their everyday lives. In Hebrew, students progress through our self-paced prayer program with the assistance of teachers and their peers.

Fifth Grade: Our Connection to Israel and Jews Around the World. This curriculum explores the organized Jewish Community and its history. The story of Jewish immigration to America to the present day is studied through text and personal family histories. This year’s curriculum also includes an extensive component on Israel, its history, and our people. We stress fluency and correct pronunciation of Hebrew with the goal of leading a service from the prayer book.

Sixth Grade: From Birth to Death: Customs, Ceremonies and the Reason Behind Them. During the Sixth Grade year, we look at how and why Jews observe significant life events. Students learn about Jewish lifecycle events throughout the year and have a Lifecycle Family Program to share their learning with family members. Students also begin to attend B’nai Mitzvah Club to solidify their ability to read and comprehend the prayers.

Seventh Grade: Being an American Jew. While Hebrew classes are finished, our students are not done learning! Seventh grade focuses on exploring what it means to be Jewish in America. The year is filled with guest speakers, interactive cooking classes, and includes a special unit on the Holocaust.

Eighth Grade: Comparative Religions. Eighth grade dives into the world around us through a comparative religions program designed to expose students to other religions through self-guided research, guest speakers, and field trips. This course is led by Rabbi Weiss and includes a bagel breakfast for all students.

Ninth Grade: Confirmation. The Confirmation Program of Congregation Schaarai Zedek provides each student with a lasting sense of commitment to the Jewish People and to Congregation Schaarai Zedek. A Confirmand of Congregation Schaarai Zedek will begin envisioning their life as a Jewish adult, exploring a broad range of Jewish concepts and values. Looking at Jewish history and tradition through an adult lens will allow them to make informed decisions as to how to live a Jewish life in the future. Our Confirmation class spends their year exploring these ideas with our clergy and senior staff, as well as professionals from our community. The year culminates with a poignant confirmation service at which we celebrate our students’ commitment to their Jewish identity.

Teaching Assistant (TA) Program: Teaching Assistants are tenth- and twelfth-grade students who choose to work in the Religious School on Sunday mornings. TAs work with our Judaics, Hebrew, and specialty teachers, as well as assist in the office. They assist with classroom activities, provide teacher support, teach themselves, and serve as role models for the younger students. TAs also receive leadership training and mentorship from our senior staff. They can count their time in Religious School as community service hours or choose to be paid.

The TA program at Congregation Schaarai Zedek is a wonderful way to give back to the community and spend time with friends. Our program has a long history of offering our older students a way to remain involved and connected with our temple. We look forward to seeing these leaders grow and begin teaching in their own ways.