Religious School Curriculum

The JCC of Japan Sunday School curriculum is a holiday curriculum beginning in Gan and continuing through B’nai Mitzvah class. Each class has designated “enduring understandings” or “big ideas” within Judaism on which the curriculum is based. Students work as a learning community both within their own class and across levels sharing ideas, collaborating and cooperating in their learning experiences.

Gan and Chalutzim

Gan classes for children 4 years old by September 1 and 5 years old, and Chalutzim classes for grades 1 and 2.

These classes serve as an introduction to the basic concepts of Judaism and Jewish worship through the holiday curriculum called “Fingerprints.” Each holiday unit introduces rituals, customs and related Jewish values through age-appropriate activities. The themes for each of the holidays, “food,” “birthdays” and “structures,” provide the children with concrete experiences that will leave fingerprints-of-connections to Jewish holidays.

The goals for the Gan and Chalutzim classes are:

  • Learn about the Jewish Holidays with a focus on a few “big ideas”
  • A Jewish value linked to each holiday
  • Age appropriate symbols and rituals
  • The Bible story connected to each holiday
  • Songs and basic prayer for each holiday
  • Expand and develop in their identities as a Jews
  • Have fun and build meaningful connections to a Jewish life


  • Gan class introduces the Aleph-Bet in song and simple Hebrew vocabulary used in the classroom. Chalutzim begins formal introduction of Hebrew study using the Tiyulim curriculum.


Grades 3 and 4.

The Shoafim Class uses the holiday curriculum on “The Cycles of Jewish Life.” This curriculum focuses on the cycles of our Jewish lives: the ways they anchor us as a people and how they connect us to one another. The following holidays are covered in-depth: Simhat Torah – the cycle of reading the Torah; Shabbat – the weekly cycle of rest occurring every 7 days; Rosh Hodesh – the cycle that begins a new month in our lunar calendar; and Shavuot – the cycle that represents the passing of the Torah from generation to generation.

Prayer and Worship:

  • Beginning to form habits of personal and communal prayer
  • Introduction of the notion of communal prayer and the “minyan”
  • Review of prayers learned in Gan and Chalutzim
  • Shema, Borey pri-Haeitz,Barchu, Chanukah candles, first and second blessing, all questions for Passover
  • Begin to pray in the sanctuary during T’fillah time
  • Begin prayers for Kabbalat Shabbat


  • Review and completion of Tiyulim, begin S’fatai Tiftah (book one Erev Shabbat)


  • Holiday songs, simple Hebrew songs


Grades 4 and 5.

The Giborim Class bases its holiday study on the “We will do and we will listen!” curriculum, which focuses on responsibility. This curriculum focuses on how the holidays serve as a reminder of the mitzvot. The central holidays covered in depth this year are Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Tu’Bishvat and Purim. The history and rituals of each holiday are studied with the goal of understanding how this connects us to God and the Jewish people. Students are introduced to the study of Bible text associated with these holidays.

Students learn to:

  • Summarize the stories in their own words
  • Explore the text by gathering of clues, the tracing of allusions and the asking of questions
  • Define and explain the terms peshat (What does it mean?), drash (What does it teach), and remez (a lesson about the Torah) and be able to apply them to Torah stories learned
  • Relate the experiences of the text to his/her own life
  • Hebrew and Prayer:
  • Students will develop a connection between Hebrew and Prayer using S’fatai Tiftah – book 1 (Erev Shabbat) and book 2 (Shabbat morning)


  • Discuss the importance of prayer and why people pray
  • Review key blessings and read with fluency: Kabbalat Shabbat and Ma’Ariv

B’nai Mitzvah Class

Grades 6 and 7

The curriculum used is “Proclaim Freedom throughout the Land!” Many of the holiday stories we retell and rituals we perform remind us of our obligation to continue the fight for freedom. The holidays studied in this curriculum emphasize the concept of freedom: Hanukkah (the Jews fought for the right to practice their religion as free people), Pesah, (the master Jewish story, in which Jews were brought out of slavery to become a nation at Mt. Sinai), Yom Ha’atzmaut (the celebration of Israel’s independence), and Lag Ba’Omer (a respite in the counting of the Omer between Pesah and Shavuot because of victories against the Romans in the middle of the second century CE).


  • Apply concepts of peshat, drash and remez in order to discuss the ethical and moral decisions that our ancestors had to make and relate them to one’s own life
  • Become familiar with portions in the Prophets and writings that are read on those holidays studied in the Freedom curriculum


  • For those students who are fluent readers, Hebrew class will emphasize the prayers for a Shabbat evening and morning service (S’fatai Tiftah – Book 2 (Shabbat morning) and Book 3 (Torah Service) Review Kabbalat Shabbat and Ma’Ariv Shacharit and Torah service
  • Those students who need Hebrew reading review will be placed in the appropriate Hebrew reading class.


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Religious School Inquiry