Temple Shalom’s Religious School emphasizes project-based and experiential learning. We seek to build an intentional Jewish community in which all ages acquire knowledge, develop Jewish identity and values, and participate in and live a meaningful Jewish life.
As we return to in-person learning in 5782, we will devote significant attention to our students’ (and their teachers’) social-emotional recovery and learning.
We expect to make creative use of our indoor and outdoor spaces in the Fall of 2021 with our fully vaccinated students and staff expected to be back in person and indoors. Students not eligible for vaccination at the beginning of the Fall are expected primarily to make creative use of our outdoor spaces. Details on our Covid-19 protocols for our school will be communicated at the end of summer based on the current health situation, vaccine availability, and current science.
For questions about the Temple Shalom Religious and Hebrew School, please call the School Office at (301) 587-2273 or email ten.molahselpmet@loohcs.
Explore details of our Religious School below.
For so many, Jewish learning is at its best when it is about participation and experience. Our Religious School offers our students and families opportunities to learn by doing:
- Ruach (community spirit) filled song sessions.
- Dipping parsley into salt water at a Passover seder at home, school, or with the entire Temple community.
- Dancing the hora at a wedding or b’not mitzvah.
- Learning at weekly services why we turn toward the door during L’cha Dodi.
For some of us and our students, the best Jewish times involve food, song, or dance. For others, it might be about reading a good book, hearing an inspirational and informative speaker who relates religious texts and teachings to contemporary issues, or spending Jewish time with friends and family during a special holiday celebration or simply at weekly Hebrew School.
For these reasons, our curriculum heavily emphasizes project-based and experiential learning into which we weave the fabric of Jewish wisdom and through which we seek to build a life-long Jewish identity.
Students begin attendance on Sunday morning and move to the evening sessions in Sixth Grade.
- Kids’ Time (Birth to Toddler): Sundays, 9:15 am – 10:45 am
- Grades Pre-K to Fifth Grade: Sundays, 9:00 am – 11:30 am
- Sixth Grade through Confirmation: Sundays, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
- Post-Confirmation: Most Sundays, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, with an exception one week each month when they meet during Shabbat.
- Weekday Hebrew Program (Third to Seventh Grade): Choose one of the following:
- Tuesdays from 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm*
- Wednesdays from 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm*
- Wednesdays from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
*Homework Club from 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm is required for students arriving before 4:10 pm to ensure proper supervision.
View our full School Calendar (Google Calendar link)
If your child is a returning student, register electronically by going to the Temple Website to the members only section and login in, click School Registration, and follow the prompts to register and pay the refundable deposit. Register online by July 15, 2022 to receive a $100 per child early-bird discount.
Finances should never stand in the way of a Jewish education. Contact our Financial Secretary at ten.molahselpmet@ceSlaicnaniF if you have financial concerns.
Reminder: ALL 3rd-7th graders must be registered for Tuesday or Wednesday Hebrew classes in addition to Sunday. Your registration will not be considered complete without this registration.
Each Sunday school grade focuses on a different aspect of developing a Jewish identity:
- Kids’ Time (Birth to Pre-K)—Exposes our youngest children to Jewish songs, dancing, holidays, and Shabbat and gives early childhood families opportunities to learn alongside their children and build community.
- Pre-Kindergarten—Introduces Jewish fun in a warm, caring environment, with a focus on holidays, Jewish symbols, and Hebrew games.
- Kindergarten—Emphasizes our students’ place in the Jewish world, with a continued focus on holidays, Shabbat, bible stories, and mitzvot (good deeds) and begins introducing Alef-Bet songs and Hebrew vocabulary.
- First Grade—Explores the stories of my people as we expand our exploration of holidays, bible stories, Shabbat, Havdalah, Israel (food and fun), and begin learning about My Synagogue, and continue to expand oral Hebrew.
- Second Grade—Focuses on our Jewish world, with an exploration of the Jewish calendar, leading a Havdalah service, mitzvot (good deeds), the concept of God, biblical stories, and the people of Israel, while oral Hebrew becomes more of a focus and we add in written Hebrew letters.
- Third Grade—Delves more deeply into the celebrations and traditions of the Jewish world, with a deeper exploration of Jewish holidays, ethics, and mitzvot (good deeds), and as our students begin mid-week Hebrew, we reinforce Hebrew foundations during Sunday school as well.
- Fourth Grade—Digs deeper into the Jewish life cycle and concepts of God and Torah, including visits to a mikvah, our Jewish cemetery, and participation in a (mock) Jewish wedding, with discussions and projects related to God, Torah and acting Jewishly in the world.
- Fifth Grade—Offers a focus on Torah as the foundation of Jewish learning, including studies of the bible and ancient and modern Israel (with highlight of the year being a study of coalition building in the Kenset) and learning the Shabbat service.
- Sixth Grade—Focuses on the concept of "One People, Many Journeys," as we explore the wisdom of the Prophets, American Jewish history, and our own personal genealogy.
- Seventh Grade—Provides a deep and powerful understanding of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, including a visit to the Holocaust Museum, discussion with a survivor, and culminating in our secret, award-winning 7th Grade Retreat program that Temple Shalom has been conducting for 40+ years.
- Eighth & Ninth Grades (Chai School)—Curriculum varies year to year depending on student interest, and includes experiential learning and electives with core classes that both separate and combine the grades
- Tenth Grade (Confirmation)—Our students complete their formal Jewish education and their b’not/b’nai/simchat mitzvah pledge through weekly sessions with our Senior Rabbi, along with Scott Kravetz and Andrea Mark. The year is highlighted by our annual Confirmation Trip to New York City. Our confirmands lead a service written in their own words reflecting on their Jewish life and concepts of Judaism. Visit our Confirmation page for more information.
- Eleventh and Twelfth Grade (Post-Confirmation)—Many Confirmands choose to continue their study through various activities and events that occur both in and out of the classroom setting. The students choose the topics covered. Classes are taught by the clergy, teachers with whom they have built relationships, and others. Visit our Post-Confirmation page for more information.
During virtual Religious School in 2020-2021, our students missed some of the seminal moments of a Temple Shalom Jewish education. Our staff look forward to “catching” our students up over the next few years to assure that they all get these formative experiences.
Formal study of Hebrew begins in Third Grade and continues through Seventh Grade. ALL Third through Seventh Graders must register for Tuesday or Wednesday Hebrew classes in addition to their Sunday class. Hebrew School is mid-week on either Tuesday (4:30 pm to 6:00 pm) or Wednesday (4:30 pm to 6:00 pm, or 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm). Classes fill up first-come, first-serve.
Kids’ Time is a Sunday morning (9:15 am to 10:45 am) Parent/Grandparent/Adult-Infant/Toddler program that exposes our youngest children to Jewish songs, dancing, holidays, and Shabbat. Equally importantly, it provides early childhood families an opportunity to learn alongside their children and build community with other adults with young children.
Non-members are welcome. Early Learning Center families and Members received a 10% discount for our Kids’ Time program!
Just a few examples of our project experiential learning include:
- Chugim (electives) (3rd-5th grade); Israeli Dance and Jewish Music (Kids’ Time and Pre-K to 2nd Grade); Youth and Teen Choirs (2nd grade and up); Tefillah (communal prayer) (all students each Sunday).
- “Real Jewish Time,” including Friday Tot Shabbat, Congregational Potlucks, and grade-led Family Shabbat Services; Shabbat and Havdalah-based family programs; grade-level Sukkah Building; Family Simchat Torah experiences; Chanukah observances (including Night of 1,000 Menorahs); community seders; and much more.
- Shabbatonim (overnights at the Temple) and Retreats (offsite) (4th-12th Grade)
- Creation of a family tree (Jewish and non-Jewish) to help students understand how their family came to be at Temple Shalom.
- Congregation-wide learning opportunities based on a given theme (such as Tikkun Olam or Mitzvah project days)
- Whole-family field trips around the greater D.C. area (and beyond in older grades).
We offer a variety of Chugim (electives) throughout the school year during our Sunday morning program (3rd-5th grades) and on Sunday evenings (6th-9th grades). Offerings vary each year and have included:
- Book Club
- Israeli Dance
- Running Club
Fifth Graders may also choose to be Junior Ozrim (Helpers) as their chugim. Do you love to hang out with really little kids reading books, doing crafts, having snacks, and teaching them? If so, you might want to come hang out in a Kindergarten, Pre-k, or First Grade Classroom as a Junior Ozer or Ozeret (helper). You will get to work closely with the teacher, and most importantly, the students. (Fifth Grade Only)
Temple Shalom offers two programs after Sunday morning Religious School as well as one before Sunday evening Religious School.
Temple Shalom Youth (TSY) Choir (Grades 2-5): Meet new friends and prepare for our Family Worship Services and other musical programs with Cantorial Soloist Emily Meyer. Our TSY Choir meets from 11:30 am -12 pm on Sunday after school.
Email ten.molahselpmet@reyeME with questions or to sign up!
Beit Din (Grades K-5): Beit Din means House of Justice, and at Temple Shalom we will act as a Court of Law for Tzedakah and Tikkun Olam programs in Religious School. We will learn about values and mitzvot, discuss ways to perform them in our community, and include all of the school to help, from collecting items to holding an event. Beit Din is open to all students in grades Kindergarten to Grade 5.
Email ten.molahselpmet@loohcS with questions or to sign up!
Temple Shalom Teen (TST) Choir (Grades 6+): Bring your musical talents to our Teen Choir regardless whether you have sung in the TSY Choir or not. Meet new friends and prepare for our Family Worship Services and other musical programs with Cantorial Soloist Emily Meyer. Our TST Choir meets before evening Sunday school.
Email ten.molahselpmet@reyeME with questions or to sign up!
Jewish learning by our students is complemented with our year-long, approximately monthly Kehillat Shalom (“Community of Peace”) Adult Learning sessions during the school year. Our Rabbi Educator identifies a new theme each year around which to develop these sessions. Each session may include lectures from outside experts, discussion groups with the clergy, activities or projects, book discussions, and more. Past themes have included: holidays and rituals; parshat hashavua (the weekly Torah portion); life-cycle events; Torah; Israel; and Social Justice.
The Kehillat Shalom is not limited to Religious School parents but is open to all adults. Other adult learning opportunities include Adult Hebrew, Introduction to Judaism classes each Fall and Spring, Adult B’nai Mitzvah classes, special speakers arranged by our auxiliaries, and much more.
Each September, on the first official day of Religious School, our intergenerational community comes together for a day of learning to celebrate coming back together after the summer. We offer learning and community-building sessions for students and adults of all ages and regardless of whether they are part of our Religious School.
At Temple Shalom, b’nai mitzvah is a critical step in our students’ Jewish education, but is not an end to that education. To become b’nai mitzvah at Temple Shalom students must be enrolled in our religious school, are required to attend a significant number of Erev and Shabbat Morning services at Temple Shalom, and their families agree to continue their formal Jewish education through Tenth Grade either at Temple Shalom or through an equivalent course of study. Some students self-design an alternative program to fulfill this commitment to continue their education. Whether a student offers Confirmation vows is up to each student; they may elect to complete Tenth Grade studies without offering Confirmation vows.
The power of this pledge has led to a Tenth Grade/Confirmation program of depth, meaning and quality. Students speak for years (often for decades) of what that year, and its culmination, meant to them. For those choosing to make a Confirmation vow, in the dark of the night, with the class in the background but unable to hear, alone with the Torah in arms and standing in front of the open ark—two nights before the Sunday Confirmation service itself— our Confirmands give voice, in their own words their “vows” about what their Jewish identity means to them. Studies have long shown that—along with Jewish summer camp and a trip to Israel—Jewish study through Tenth Grade is central to establishing a life-long Jewish identity.
If you have questions about the commitments and requirements associated with becoming b’not mitzvah here, please speak with our Rabbi Educator or Senior Rabbi.
Visit our B’Nai Mitzvah page for more information.
Temple Shalom wants to make sure your child gets the most out of their experience in Religious School. We work with parents to put in place accommodations your child may require. We encourage meetings with all parents who have children with special needs. Please share your child’s IEP, 529 Plan, or other learning plans with the Rabbi Educator. Our Rabbi Educator and teachers want to understand the needs of the children in our classrooms.
Many teachers in our Religious School work specifically with students who have special needs as full-time teachers. All of our teachers are trained and supported in meeting the needs of all students. When possible, extra helpers may be able to be assigned in classrooms with larger enrollment, although at this time we are unable to provide specific shadows for those children who may require them.
Our lessons are structured to meet the needs of different types of learners (kinesthetic, oral, etc.). We provide ample opportunities to learn about Judaism through immersive experiences (including our chugim, Israeli Dance, music, etc.)
Our classrooms are equipped with fidget toys and noise-canceling headphones.
ASL interpreters available for parents or students upon request; advance notice for this service is required.