Our Curriculum


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.

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 during our Hebrew Through Movement curriculum. 

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. Beginning this year, students will have approximately 20 minutes of “Hebrew exposure” in which they play with the Hebrew alphabet and begin to get familiar with the letters and prepare to read in 3rd grade. 

Third Grade: Jewish Values from Alef to Tav. This curriculum reinforces students’ Hebrew learning each week by assigning a corresponding Jewish value to the Hebrew letter they have just learned in Hebrew Class. Students also learn about the synagogue, the sanctuary, and Jewish books. Students begin to study Hebrew as part of their Religious School day in 3rd grade. They begin with letters, vowels, and basic decoding. 

Fourth Grade: The Hero in Me. 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: The American Jewish Community. 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: Back to the Future. Our seventh-grade students travel back through Jewish history and visit some of the greatest and most challenging moments through this experiential curriculum. Students will learn about how every part of Jewish history has impacted them in some way, solidifying their place in the timeline of the Jewish people. This is a fun and interactive camp-style curriculum meant to continue their Jewish education and build community in the class. 

Eighth Grade: Myself, My World, My Judaism. The first semester of 8th Grade classes are devoted to examining what it means to be a young Jew in today’s world. We do this through the study of comparative religion, examining Judaism in relation to other world religions, and a study of modern Israel. During the second semester, our eigth-graders go off-site every other session to give students the opportunity to engage in social action projects throughout the Tampa Bay Area. The week before going on a community service project, students study the specific mitzvah that they will be fulfilling with that project.

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. 

Chugim (7th-9th Grade): For our older students, we offer chugim for the second half of their morning at Religious School. Students may choose to explore the concepts of God, the Torah, and Israel through a lens that they are passionate about. Some choices may include cooking, music, art, dance, sports, building, and technology. Chugim are meant to help our students find ways to connect Judaism to their everyday lives, continuing to build their connection to our tradition in fun and engaging ways. 

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.