Curriculum

When your children ask you, 'How did this come to pass? Why is today so much better than long ago?' You can tell them, 'It was the power of people that changed the world.'"

— Rabbi Adam Chalom

 
The Kol Hadash Sunday School curriculum encourages our children to value their Jewish identity and to think for themselves. Cultural Jewish literacy, independent thinking, and personal values are our core objectives. Note: Classes with combined grades use a rotating curriculum, alternating years.
 
We hold weekly classes for children in second grade through 10th grade Confirmation. Younger students are nurtured in creative learning activities, while older students are challenged to think critically about important issues.
 

Preschool Jewish Discovery

Once a month, parents and their children ages 2-5 years old will enjoy hands-on activities, arts and crafts projects, free play and music —all with a fun theme. Free for members and nonmembers. Younger siblings welcome. We also welcome non-member families with children of all ages to join us at our Sunday School holiday and cultural celebrations.  For more information on our playgroup please see this flyer and visit our calendar.
 

2nd/3rd Grades

Teachers: Karen Jackson
 
A: The Jewish Calendar and The Bible
Students learn about the origins of the Jewish calendar and study major Jewish holidays. The Bible is introduced from the perspective of the Jewish mythical family tree, teaching the stories of Genesis and Exodus sequentially. Origin myths from different cultures, as well as scientific and archaeological approaches to the origins of life and the Jewish people, are also discussed as a means to put the Bible in historical and world context.
 
B: The Jewish Calendar and Life Cycle Events
In addition to continued study of the Jewish calendar and holidays, students are introduced to the major Jewish life cycle events. Students learn how Humanistic Jews, as well as Jews throughout history and around the world, acknowledge the key events in our lives -- birth, coming of age (B Mitzvah), marriage, and death -- and explore how Jewish holidays and life cycle celebrations have evolved over time to respond to and be more relevant to new circumstances. Students also learn how the creative use of symbols makes celebrations more meaningful.   
 

4th/5th Grades

Teacher: Rick Bolnick
 
A: Heroes and Choices
Every hero must make choices—many difficult, some seemingly impossible.  These choices, and a person’s actions that follow, make a hero.  In this curriculum students explore many heroes—from American history, Jewish history, the Bible, comic books and other pop culture sources, and from common everyday life. The class decides who are their heroes. What makes a Jewish hero? What makes a superhero? Does a hero have to be perfect? Students gain an understanding of heroes’ common values. A simultaneous strand  in this curriculum takes students through a comparative study of Judaism. Students learn more about Humanistic Judaism and how it is both similar to and different from other branches of Judaism by studying Jewish holidays and other religious and cultural traditions.
 
B: Coming to America
This class begins the study of Jewish history. Students begin the year studying shtetl life in eastern Europe during the late 19th century and their own family histories. Students follow the immigrant experience through the voyage to America, processing at Ellis Island, and Jewish communities in the United States. A highlight of the year is the Family Heirloom Project, in which students select heirlooms from their own families and research their histories.
 

6th/7th Grades

Teacher: Mark Friedman

A:  American Jewish History and Israel

The themes of this year are identity, community, and overcoming obstacles to create nations, recognizing the importance of human efforts and power.  One semester covers the history of Jews in America from the early pre-colonial period to modern times. Jews have influenced America, and America has transformed Jews and Judaism. Jewish life in America has been a balance between change and tradition. 
 
The second semester focuses on the land of Israel, the evolution of Zionism, and the establishment of the state of Israel, including discussions of Israel today.  Students will expand their Jewish literacy as they study key events, figures, and geography in the history of Jews in America and of Israel. 
 

8th Grade

 
B: Ethical Jewish Consciousness and Morality: Dilemmas Relating to the Holocaust
 
This class focuses on Jewish history from the Enlightenment (circa 1750) through the aftermath of the Holocaust. Throughout the year, students discuss how political and social decisions affect quality of life, the importance of community, the ethical and unethical uses of power, personal responsibility, and the importance of tolerance, understanding, and acceptance. The class begins the year studying the Enlightenment and the emancipation of Jews and continues with the global and domestic conditions that led to the rise of Nazism. Students will explore the evolutionary process of state policies that resulted in the Holocaust as well as the various forms of resistance, intervention, and rescue that occurred. At the end of the year, students discuss the impact of the Holocaust on society and assess issues of conscience and moral responsibility. A field trip to the Illinois Holocaust Museum is planned for the spring.
 

9th / 10th Grades (Confirmation Class)

Teacher:  David Hirsch
 
Comparative Judaism and Comparative Religion
 
Over a two-year period, students explore how various religions attempt to answer the big questions of life, while they develop their own personal philosophies and codes of ethics. Field trips throughout the year to various religious institutions are critical elements of the class. Both 9th and 10th graders participate in the spring Confirmation service, with graduating students preparing more in-depth presentations.
 

Hebrew

Teacher: Mara Heichman

The Hebrew Alef-bet and basic vocabulary are introduced in Sunday School to give students a basic familiarity with Hebrew language. Formal Hebrew study for B Mitzvah begins in 6th grade, as part of the 6th grade Sunday School class. Hebrew study continues in the 7th grade B Mitzvah Class. Students practice reading and understanding each other’s B Mitzvah Hebrew readings, in order to become very familiar with both the pronunciation and the meaning of the readings. Students also master simple Hebrew conversations, grammar, and vocabulary, as well as songs sung in Israel and at Kol Hadash. This class balances the need for B Mitzvah Hebrew reading skills with understanding Hebrew as a modern, living language.
 

B Mitzvah

Teachers: Rabbi Adam Chalom and  Mara Heichman

To prepare for a B Mitzvah (gender-neutral, non-binary terminology for what is conventionally called “Bar Mitzvah” or “Bat Mitzvah”), students complete a two-year program in Hebrew followed by private tutoring in their Torah portion and commentary or other project. Read more about our program in our Kol Hadash B Mitzvah Guide.
 

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