“The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils at Etz Chaim is outstanding.” (Pikuach report 2013)
At Etz Chaim Jewish Primary School, Jewish Studies is seamlessly integrated into all aspects of school life. We are committed to providing an outstanding and inspiring Jewish Studies education and to preparing our children to be active members of the Jewish and wider community. Our curriculum enables pupils to actively engage with Jewish texts and to experience and participate in Jewish practice. The use of ICT is a key part of our Jewish Studies curriculum. We aim to blend 21st century technology with Torah learning and to make Jewish learning exciting and engaging. We also focus strongly on social action and the importance of Tzedakah (charity). We want our pupils to be able to confidently articulate their Jewish identity whilst being knowledgeable and respectful of others.
The aims of our curriculum:
- To develop within the pupils a positive commitment and passion for Judaism and British Values
- To give pupils the skills and knowledge needed to be able to lead a full Jewish life
- To make Jewish Studies meaningful and relevant to the pupils through practical experiences and experiential learning
- To give pupils the confidence to explore their own personal relationship with Hashem (G-d) and to express it in various ways
- To develop within the pupils exemplary character traits (middot) linked to the study of role models from the Torah
- To instil a sense of community in order to foster a life long incentive to be actively involved in Jewish and wider communal life
- To provide adult education opportunities for parents so that they can confidently support their child’s learning
All children have a daily Tefillah (prayer) session and Birkat Hamazon (Grace after meals) is recited each day after lunch. During these sessions children are guided and supported to make a personal connection to Hashem (G-d). Understanding the meaning of the Tefillot (prayers) is essential in making Tefillah (prayer) meaningful and relevant to the children. In Year 1 the children receive their first Siddur (prayer book) at a Chagigat Hasiddur ceremony.
The children celebrate and learn about the Chagim (festivals) as they occur throughout the year. They learn about the customs, laws, tefillot (prayers) and brachot (blessings) connected to the Chagim (festivals). Experiential learning forms a key part of the Jewish Year curriculum and our children enjoy lots of practical and hands on workshops linked with the Chagim. Our Jewish Year curriculum is fully integrated with our Secular curriculum and children learn about the Chagim (festivals) through Music, Art, Design and Technology, English and Maths as well as through specific Jewish Studies lessons. Shabbat (the Sabbath) is celebrated with a lively weekly Kabbalat Shabbat ceremony in Foundation Stage, a Kabbalat Shabbat in Key Stage 1, an Oneg Shabbat in lower Key Stage 2 and a Youth Service in Upper Key Stage 2. The week begins with Havdalah.
In Reception, the children learn the aleph – bet (Hebrew alphabet) phonically as well as letter recognition. Our aleph bet curriculum is exciting, multi-sensory and fully linked with the EYFS curriculum. The children quickly start to acquire an active Hebrew vocabulary. This vocabulary includes every day words as well as subject specific words such as relating to Chagim (festivals) and Shabbat (the Sabbath). In KS1and lower KS2 the children develop their reading accuracy and fluency through the use of the highly motivating Aleph Champ programme as well as through our special library of engaging and exciting Hebrew story books.
In Reception and Year 1, the writing of block letters is seen as a reading reinforcement and not as an end in itself. In Year 2, the children are introduced to Hebrew script and use this throughout KS2.
Ivrit (Modern Hebrew)
The children develop confidence in speaking, listening, reading and writing Ivrit and apply those skills in everyday situations. Ivrit is taught as a Modern Foreign Language in conjunction with Jewish Studies. We work according to the National Framework for Modern Languages looking at the four strands; Listening, Speaking, reading and Writing. In the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 we use the very popular Chalav UD’vash programme which focuses on Listening, Speaking and Reading.
In Key Stage 2 Ivrit B’Click is the core programme used. This programme was devised in Israel for children living in the UK and enhances all four strands of the Hebrew Languages Ladder including writing.
Torah (Bible Studies)
Parashat Hashavua (Weekly Torah/Bible Portion)
The children have a weekly Parashah lesson in which they become familiar with stories from the Torah (Bible). In addition they participate in discussions and activities about the ethical and moral values (middot and mitzvot) that they can learn from these events. We focus on helping children to see the relevance of Torah (Bible Studies) to modern living. The children participate in class projects that are connected to Parashat Hashavua (weekly Bible Portion) and singing, art and drama are incorporated regularly into these lessons. Our children are encouraged to share their learning with their families during Shabbat (the Sabbath) through interactive weekly Parashah (Bible Portion) sheets/newsletters.
Chumash (Textual Bible Studies)
In Year 2 the children learn Chumash (text of weekly Bible Portion) readiness skills such as how to find the place in a chumash and how to use gematrias (numerical value of Hebrew letters). In Year 3 the children receive their first chumash at a special Chagigat HaChumash Ceremony. Throughout Key Stage Two we will use the very popular JCP Chumash curriculum. This curriculum is highly motivating and provides a wide range of exciting resources. The children start to learn Mishna in Year 6.
Jewish Way of Life
The children have the opportunity to explore and experience Judaism and understand the importance of middot (values), mitzvoth (commandments) and derech eretz (respect). They learn about aspects of the Jewish Way of Life such as mezuzah, kashrut (laws of keeping Kosher), brachot (blessings said before eating food), sofrut (the writing of special Hebrew texts) etc. Practical workshops and real life experiences form an essential part of this strand of the curriculum.
Tzedakah (charity) is a key focus at Etz Chaim Jewish Primary School. Our
children are encouraged to think about the welfare of others from a young age. Each Friday the children bring in money for Tzedakah (charity) and we have taken part in many charitable initiatives both within and outside the Jewish community such as Mitzvah Day, a Camp Simcha Toy Drive, Children in Need, Jeans for Genes Day and Jewish Blueish Child’s Day.
We have strong links with Clore Manor Residential Home in Hendon and our children frequently visit the residents to entertain them and also to learn from their rich life experiences.
We offer and promote Jewish family education and enhancement activities in conjunction with SEED. We have successfully offered a wide range of activities for both children and their parents. Themed festival workshops include: flag making for Succot, Chanukah and Shavuot craft workshops, a grand Purim fun morning and model Sedarim which were attended by the children together with their parents.