Sign In Forgot Password

Religious School

Preschool: Holiday Happenings for Preschoolers & Parents
Our preschool class for three- and four-year-olds meets once each month with a parent. Together, they will get a ta’am (taste) of all the excitement and joy that Judaism has to offer. Participants will learn about the Jewish holidays and symbols through arts & crafts, stories, songs, cooking and games. This class is a wonderful introduction to Or Shalom for both our preschoolers and their parents. Children and parents alike form close friendships that will last well past b'nai mitzvah.
THE PRESCHOOL CLASS IS OPEN TO BOTH MEMBERS AND NONMEMBERS!

Kindergarten/1st Grade:
Learning about Mitzvot, Jewish Holidays and our Relationship with God

Our Kindergarten and first-grade students meet weekly on Sunday mornings and are introduced to the beauty of Jewish life, customs and traditions. Students will begin to develop their own Jewish identity and pride in being Jewish. Through stories, games, crafts and music, students will experience and understand what it means to be part of a Jewish community.

The curriculum focuses on an understanding of the Jewish holidays and the child’s role in the family’s observance of holidays. Students will learn each holiday story along with its key ritual objects, vocabulary, and blessings. Students are introduced to the concept of being created in God’s image, which leads into discussions about mitzvot and how to treat others.

Working toward the goal of each student developing a feeling of pride in being Jewish, we invite each student as they begin their formal Jewish education to come up to the bimah on Simchat Torah, where they recite the Sh’ma prayer and receive their very own Torah at our Consecration service.

2nd Grade: Exploring the Synagogue, Acts of Lovingkindness and Introduction to the Hebrew Alef-Bet
Our second-grade students learn about the people and ritual objects found in the synagogue. The goal of the year is to acquaint each student with all aspects of the synagogue as a place where Jews gather to pray, study and meet other Jews. We will also introduce the concept of gemilut chasadim (acts of lovingkindness), and gain familiarity with some of the letters of the Hebrew alef-bet. As we progress through the year, our second graders will celebrate each Jewish holiday and learn the meaning and rituals associated with each holiday.

Hebrew School Programs for Grades 3 through 6
Congregation Or Shalom believes that children must be equipped with a solid foundation in the Hebrew language in order to fully appreciate our worship service and to connect them with the spirit of the Jewish people and Israel.
Our Hebrew school curriculum is designed to provide students with the following:

  • A familiarity with the Hebrew language
  • The ability to read and write in Hebrew
  • A basic Hebrew conversational vocabulary
  • An understanding that Hebrew is an important part of our Jewish history and culture, and that Hebrew is both a holy and a living language
  • The ability to follow and lead a worship service and to understand the order of the service
  • A knowledge and understanding of the prayers for weekdays, Shabbat and holidays
  • Familiarity with the melodies of the prayers that are chanted during services and songs connected with our holidays

Third – Fifth Grade Family School Program
Or Shalom features one of the largest and most successful family school programs in the country and provides an opportunity for third–fifth-grade students and parents to learn together. Once a month on Sunday mornings, parents join their child in family workshops to study Jewish values & ethics, Israel, Torah, Bible, or holidays and traditions. This is done through hands-on activities such as drama, crafts, music, scavenger hunts, storytelling and games. An additional benefit of this program is that families meet, study and socialize with other Or Shalom families and really build a sense of community.

Our three-year revolving curriculum uses themes of Torah, Bible and Israel, with a focus on how our ancient texts are a guide to help us live our life meaningfully, and to act with Jewish valueshelping others and working to make the world a better place. Families will experience how Judaism can help lead us to have a meaningful life and happiness. Through our experiential learning, both students and parents are also given opportunities to explore what happens when our expectations are not fully met, and how we cope with those realities.

Hebrew School Options for Grades 3 through 5
Third–fifth-grade students can choose between two Hebrew school options to best meet their learning and scheduling needs. Both programs are part of the Or Shalom Family School:

SundayWednesday Program:
Students attend either early or late session on Sunday mornings, as well as on Wednesday afternoons (4:30-6:30 p.m.). Two Sundays per month, our third–fifth-grade grade students gather in the social hall for experiential Judaica learning. The remaining two Sundays and on Wednesdays, students meet in their classrooms for Hebrew instruction.

Kehillah Program:
Students attend class only on Sundays, alternating weeks from 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., which is both Hebrew and Judaica learning, and 10:45 a.m.–12:30 p.m., for weeks which are Hebrew instruction only. Kehillah students also participate in a monthly one-on-one video call with their teacher and have requirements for Shabbat service attendance and a family mitzvah project.

3rd Grade:
Third graders begin to study the Hebrew language. Students learn how to read (decode) the alef-bet and write in block letters. They master some basic Hebrew vocabulary and learn the blessings/traditions associated with each Jewish holiday.

4th Grade:
Our fourth-grade students advance their reading and writing skills and begin to work on Hebrew prayers. The prayer curriculum is supplemented with easy Hebrew stories to teach modern Hebrew conversational skills and increase vocabulary.

5th Grade:
Fifth graders continue their study of Hebrew, emphasizing reading fluency and gaining familiarity with both the weekday morning and Shabbat evening service. Students read and translate Hebrew stories incorporating modern Hebrew conversation and new vocabulary.

6th Grade: Lifecycle & Hebrew
Sixth-grade students continue their prayer-reading curriculum and focus on the order and parts of the worship service. They will deepen their understanding and appreciation of selected prayers and their concepts. Sixth-grade students lead weekday worship services on a regular basis and become familiar with our Shabbat morning and Torah service liturgy. In addition to mastery of reading and chanting the prayers, students explore the meaning of each prayer and are encouraged to offer their own interpretations of each prayer. Students are taught to chant the Torah and haftarah blessings in preparation for their bar/bat mitzvah year.

Our sixth graders enjoy learning the traditions and explanations of our Jewish life-cycle events. They will explore b’rit milah/baby naming, bar/bat mitzvah, confirmation, weddings and funerals/mourning on their way to understanding that the Jewish traditions associated with each of these life-cycle events help bring holiness into our lives.

Bonim: Students with Special Needs
While Hebrew and Judaic studies are mastered easily by some students, it can be difficult for others. For students with physical limitations, learning challenges, emotional issues or other special needs, we offer individualized programming. Or Shalom's special needs program is called Bonim (Builders), which builds on the skill level of each participant. Students receive both individual tutoring, as well as support in our regular class setting to participate with their grade-aged peers. Our Bonim students are part of our Family School program, and students become b'nai mitzvah at age 13, wherever they fall into the calendar with the rest of our students. Parents who would like to learn more about the Bonim class should contact the education director.

Junior High Programs (7th & 8th Grade)
Our seventh- and eighth-grade students meet on Tuesdays from 6:30–8:15 p.m., and start with a pizza dinner!

Our seventh- grade curriculum includes five rotations of class electives of five weeks each, focusing on different aspects of Jewish culture and identity. Each seventh grader is required to compete a unit on the Holocaust, as well as a unit called Active Mitzvot, which focuses on our responsibility to do tikkun olam and help make the world a better place. Students experience real-life decision-making for families on very limited income, as they go to Target and shop for a week's worth of groceries for a family of four with just $40. Each seventh-grade student participates in a field trip to The ARK in Chicago as well as a docent-led tour of the Holocaust Museum in Skokie.

A sampling of 7th grade electives includes:
Jewish Cooking
Jewish Videogaming

Tikkun Olam II—Additional mitzvah opportunities each week
Made in Israel—Israeli Inventions
Jews in Sports
Hebrew Conversation
Basketball and Mitzvot
Holocaust Readings, Art, Video & Poetry—Preparing an original service for Yom HaShoah


Eighth-grade students are given the opportunity to choose topics and projects they are passionate about which prepare them as life-long Jewish learners. Students choose among programming options such as song leading/guitar lessons with our cantorial soloist and helping to song lead on Sunday mornings, madrichim training in preparation to work in our classrooms, cooking for mitzvot—preparing meals for those who are infirm or have suffered a loss, creating a videogame based on Bible stories, and Hebrew conversation. Students enjoy two staples of our eighth-grade program: “Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n Roll” Purim and the Chocolate Seder.

Fri, September 21 2018 12 Tishrei 5779