Hello! I am finally getting around to reposting this! lol I was wondering if other parents who are raising Jewish children could share how they schedule their Jewish education. What topics do you teach and how often? The topics I have been thinking of are Torah study, Hebrew, Jewish literature, and Holidays. Please share your schedules and topics too if you are from another religious tradition or background and are teaching your children your traditions/beliefs/languages etc. ! Thanks for your help!
Shalom Rachel! Our subjects are:
Hebrew, Jewish Lit., Jewish History/Bios, Torah/remaining Tanakh/Brit Hadashah study, Holidays, Jewish culture/lifestyle, Israel and Media. Since it’s our lifestyle and not just extra subjects, I try to make them flow with the rest of the subjects/life.
Hebrew: M-F at home and one Sat. a month at shul for Bnei Mitzvah(BM) training.
I try to make it one our first subjects. My son helps me out w/his younger sister if I am unavailable.
My son is getting ready to start a conversational weekly or biweekly on Skype w/an Israeli Ulpan (Hebrew school) teacher to give him more immersion and conversational practice. We can fit that in when we want to according to our schedule.
Jewish Lit.- 1x a week
currently that consists of Fairy Tales, Folk Tales and Legends. I read aloud, usually Fri. or Sun., but when I can. They have also been know to grab a book and read on their own, too.
Jewish History: 1x a week.
I time this alongside secular/church history.
Family- Read Aloud. Last year, I read Seymour Rossel’s two comprehensive, children’s books on Jewish history for overview. Currently, I’m reading a bio on Maimonides.
We add in the info. into our BOC.
Independently- In their extra, leisure reading list for the year, I include living Jewish history books that correlate with our current time period(s).
Torah/Bible/New Covenant(NC) study: Daily.
I’ve done this differently each year for in-depth study and then there’s the Parshiot. It is the first thing we do in the morning, usually while they are eating breakfast. I’ll give examples to share my meaning:
When they were 7/8, they completed a year of Children’s Torah Club from First Fruits of Zion in addition to reading aloud from the Bible.
Last year, we read directly from the parshiot, including the parsha from the NC. There’s no children’s Hebrew/Messianic Bible study that I can afford, so I teach from my own studying and use both traditional and messianic commentary so we dig in deeply that way.
This past year, I decided to use the Greenleaf Guide History of the Old Testament w/the NC readings added in from the parsha that week. I read aloud commentaries from Rabbi’s on the parsha from that week and of course, it’s read on Shabbat.
They also have their own daily personal Bible time from the Complete Jewish Bible; a daily Proverb, something from the rest of the Tanakh and from a NC book. I have a deeper study on the Prophets for children from Berhman House to start later this “school year” on Fridays.
They also get study materials for their BM Class; it’s done without me, but with each other, daily right after breakfast.
I wish I had known about the Artscroll Children’s Parsha Readers when they were younger, I would’ve used that daily up to the FFOZ Torah Club. When we’re finished w/the Greenleaf Guide, I plan on using the Messianic materials from Restoration Torah children’s study materials – daily during breakfast and I’m also looking at some other Torah, Early Later Prophets and Writings studies. With a strong foundation in the Tanakh, the NC is more easily understood. Again, first thing in the morning these are done.
Holidays: As needed.
These I read something about them usually starting the day before and/the day of, depending on what Holiday we’re at and it gets read in the morning, after Bible studies.
When they were ages 6-8, they did the Berhman House holiday materials that came in the packet 1x week and I read aloud from Walk with Y’shua through the Jewish Year as the holidays came. For the past two years, I have used The Book of Jewish Holidays.
For Yom Hashoah, I’ve always read a book specific to teaching about the Holocaust up till the Day of memorial. They also read books on their own about this topic.
For Yom HaAtzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim, we make special effort to read any books in the same way as we do for Yom HaShoah; plus practice observance through prayers and music at home, in addition to shul services. I fit them in daily till the holiday/memorial day arrives, setting aside whatever is not as important in the schedule for that time.
For Hanukkah, we read our many books on the topic and my children read independently, too. These are usually done in the evenings, during the Feast.
I like the books by Yaakov Strauss for my children’s ages for Pesach, Shavuot and Yom Kippur. There are so many wonderful children’s books for your little one’s ages, too to be read up to, and during, the Holidays.
They read on their own in this area, too.
Jewish Culture and Lifestyle: Independently- This is done 1x a week, usually Fri. morning. I usually schedule 3 books in a year.
I’ve used the Berman House materials since they were 6 and have been pleased for the most part, except for the Reform positions we do not agree with, like women wearing tallitot and kippot, being Rabbis or Social Justice teachings. Example for this year:
Journey of a Lifetime: The Jewish Lifecycle Book
Kid’s Mensch Handbook: Step by Step to a Lifetime of Jewish Values
Israel: Done 1x a week, usually Fri., in it’s order in the schedule; again, Behrman House has great materials for learning about Israel from grades K and up. I am planning on getting a map of Israel to hang up alongside our US and World maps.
Independently. This is so incredibly important to us: to nurture and defend Zionism and have a deep connection to and interest in The Land. Again, I’ve used Behrman House materials every year. My children also watch the Prime Minister’s interviews and speeches; they also hear me read aloud articles that are relevant. As a family, we keep on top of the news. We get the International Jerusalem Post and I read from the online version, too.
Media: Lots of music (daily); movies and documentaries as their ages permit.
When they were younger, Bible videos, Shalom Sesame and the Itche Kadoozy Show on the Chabad website for the parsha- 1x a week.
This is probably more than you wanted or needed, but I didn’t know how else to describe it. It looks on paper like it’s very overwhelming, but it’s not in practice. It’s integral to our lives. Your children’s ages are great for using the many picture books available. Looking forward to others contributions.
One in Yeshua,
Oh I meant to tell you I came across a few new books that are very interesting for the high school student and adult; I’m adding them to my list:
The Jewish Gospels – Daniel Boyarin (a Talmudic Scholar)
The Jewish Annotated New Testament – Amy-Jill Levine (All Jewish scholarly contribution)
A New Look at the Old Testament – Rabbi Derek Leman (Messianic Rabbi)
Rachel~ thank you so much for the info that you have posted on the forum, I’m new the forum but not new to the CM concept. I like the method but because I didn’t like much of the reading choices, not that I don’t like living books, on the contrary I do. But I wanted to teach my girls with more Torah related book. Your list has helped greatly. My girls are in 7th grade level and 5 th grade level. I’m still in the process of gathering up a curr to work through the summer.
YahKheena a follower of Yahushua the Messiah
sorry I didn’t finish a sentence if I had proof read I would have caught it
**I like the method….on the contrary I do, but didn’t use it because of the book choices (was looking for a more hebraic teachings). I don’t know why I didn’t think of just doing what you have done? anyway…
Yahkeena, were you able to get a copy of the Jewish Living History resources list I posted? I can email you an updated and PDF form via your email if you PM me.
Here’s a site, if you scroll almost to the bottom, with many excellent teachings from the Tanakh and New Covenant from a Messianic Jewish perspective, they are good for ages 8+, IMO. It was so helpful to me during the time of Counting the Omer last year: http://www.torahresource.com/OtherMaterials.html
Here’s a weekly Tehillim (Psalms)schedule:
Some things we do that may give you ideas:
I do the blessings before studying the Torah, Haftorah and Brit Hadashah. I printed them from the Hebrew for Christians site, cut them out and pasted them onto a large index card which I keep in my BIble – http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Blessings/blessings.html
I’ve taught them the Modeh Ani in the morning and the Shema. We welcome the Rosh Chodesh w/the Blessings and the blowing of the Shofar at home. We’re slowly working on the Grace After Meals, currently, as that is actually more Scriptural practice than the Brachah prior to the meal (Deut. 8:10). We’ve been learning the other food brachah, too; though those are also a part of their Hebrew materials, too from Behrman House. The SCM memory box style comes in handy for learning these blessings in a quick and easy way. I would like us to start to learn the weekday Amidah and The L-rd’s Prayer in Hebrew soon. With Pesach coming, my dd has to work on reciting the Four Questions in Hebrew.
I put the order of the Books of the Bible in our SCM memory box; the order according to the Hebrew Bible and the New Covenant according to the Complete Jewish Bible. I separated it according to the Torah, the Early Nevi’im and Nevi’im Acharonim (Later Prophets), K’tuvim, and then broke up the NC into The Good News and the Letters (broke this one onto two cards). This has worked well.
Teaching Tzedakah: It’s tradition to give Tzedakah on Erev Shabbat, before lighting the candles:
http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Blessings/Shabbat_Blessings/Tzedakah/tzedakah.html ; so we have placed a Tzedakah box on the table specifically to give to the Messianic Jewish Israeli Fund; we just started this one. The children also have their own personal boxes in which they give a minimum of 10% when they receive any money for allowance, earnings or birthdays. When it gets filled, we give the contents to a worthy charity. They will also take out of it if they want to give at shul for something.
This site has some great Jewish teaching materials – copywork in Hebrew and Parsha, Tehillim and Yom Tov copywork and activity pages- for young children; she does use mostly Ashkenazi pronunciation which interferes with the direction that most Hebrew instruction is moving away from which is going towards teaching Israeli – i.e.Sephardi – Hebrew pronunciation.
As I mentioned, the FFOZ Children’s Torah Club is the only Parsha materials available for a reasonable price (another program is Club Maccabee) and it only lasts for a year (I don’t know if it changes yearly or not). When mine were younger than 7, I used some materials from Torah Tots and Aklah. So what has helped me teach them Torah and the continuity of all of Scripture is to use both Messianic and Traditional materials, as I mentioned before. Some basic things that I’ve read or used to educate myself in order so that I have what I need to transmit that knowledge and ability to discuss with the children are:
A Tanakh study Bible (I have the JPS version)
Complete Jewish Bible (Stern is getting together a study version-yeah!)
Jewish New Testament Commentary
A source for historical Bible maps (my children always want to look at a map to see where the activities are occurring)
Gateways to Torah- Rabbi Russell Resnik
The WALK! Series-Parsha studies-5-Vol. http://www.messianicjewish.net/store/products.php?pid=52&detail=true (can be bought individually)
Visual guides to the Temple and the Tabernacle. It’s much easier to teach these things when you can read it the Bible, then show it in a picture. I like the Rose Guide to the Temple:
The Temple Institute has good offerings (Ha! Pun intended) online for learning and teaching:http://www.templeinstitute.org/study_tools.htm
An important issue: I don’t think I mentioned what I teach my children about the oral torah. I teach them that G-d makes it clear in His Written Torah against Him giving an oral one:
Exodus 24:4a Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said.
Having said that, there are many good principles found in the oral law that we follow because they do not conflict but only reinforce the Torah. Yet, we are not bound by the oral law. The rich wisdom of the Sages that has been passed down and the Semitic mindset in studying, living and serving Adonai is invaluable. Of course, we have the freedom to wade through the traditions/customs and throw out that which flatly contradict G-d’s Word, is tainted by un-Biblical spiritualism and/or Hellenism; no longer applicable customs (those that only made sense within the historical time period in which they were set) or those that are overly burdensome, etc. On the other hand, we have the freedom to choose traditions/customs, too. I tell my children that you must always know WHY you do what you do and the condition of the heart must play the utmost role.
I forgot one other teaching that is traditionally started around age 10-12: the Pirkei Avot. Yahkeena, yours are at good age. This year I am starting my son and dd reading from the Artscroll Youth version, for exposure and discussion. You can either do it (normally on Shabbat, but we will do on Sun.) from Pesach to Shavuot or Pesach to Rosh HaShanah. Excepting the reinforcement of the supremacy of the oral law, the Ethics of the Fathers is awesome material to study w/your child (and for yourself). Next year, I will plan to dig-in more deeply and use A Bridge to Our Tradition: Pirkei Avot –
Well, I’ve dragged this out again, sorry that’s it’s so long. Hope you glean some ideas from it. I’d love to hear what ya’ll have planned.
Nice to meet you YahKheena!
Thank you Rachel for sharing your experience, resources, and plans with us!! I have to admit that this whole topic is very overwhelming to me! lol It is really important to me to give our children a solid Jewish life and education, but it is so tricky since it is not my own background. My husband went to Jewish day school and his father is a Conservative rabbi so I feel the expectations are set really high, even if in a loving way! Even figuring out where to find books on topics can be overwhelming. So I really appreciate you taking the time to share with me. I will be ruminating on all of this info and will post soon with my plan!
All right, so I have finally come up with a plan for dd5 and thought I would share it!
Hebrew 3x a week: Sarah and David materials at home and Behrman House at Synagogue
Jewish Literature: 1x a week as a family Shabbat read aloud
Torah/ Bible Study 2x a week: read a Bible story one day a week and then read and discuss part of the weekly parsha during Friday night dinner using discussion questions from The Modern Jewish Mom’s Guide to Shabbat
Jewish Holidays as needed: Read Behrman House Holiday books, holiday books from our own library, and the Synagogue’s collection
Jewish Ritual in daily life: This is going to be my big focus this year. We are moving toward being more restful on Shabbat and I want us to memorize the blessings for different foods, experiences, etc. . We saw a rainbow the other day and I wanted us to be able to say the special prayer for seeing a rainbow, but we didn’t know it. I would like to remedy that! I like your idea Rachel of using a SCM memory box to keep track of the prayers and help with the memorizing! To learn these prayers we’ll be using the Hebrew for Christians website and the Chabad website.
Thank you for all of your help! I know I’ll be looking to you for more advice in the future!
Amazing information! Thank you so much for sharing.
I found a new (to me) resource I thought I would share. It is a website called Challah Crumbs and has activites for holidays, book recommendations, and both a podcast discusing the weekly parsha and brief parsha discussion piece for around the dinner table. I listened to one of the podcasts and think the whole family would enjoy it.
Rachel and ima2,
Thanks for sharing the sites and what you are doing.
@ Rachel. Thanks for all of the Biblical study resources. I too am overwhelmed at all the material and what it all means. I so want to delve into this more. I am going to print this page so I can take it all in and look up more. I sure hope you wrote out what you have done for the last several years. Maybe you should write a book on the subject. I would defineatly by a copy! I am also going to look up the prayers and blessings!
Shalom to you both!
Thanks, RAchel; I’ll give it a look.
@chocodog: I am so glad that you are blessed by any resources that I post. It can be overwhelming when put together like I do-it’s over ten years worth of our lives. Please don’t ever hesitate to pm me w/questions.
I have updated my Resources a little, added stuff mainly; only taken out maybe one ro two things.
You know, I have thought about creating a Jewish (including Messianic Jewish, but the orthodox community wouldn’t care too much for that inclusion and I’d want them to be able to use it , too) version of All Through the Ages. It’s very taxing to gather from different catalogs and websites all the historical materials that would aid one in their studies.
I’m putting together our next year; our new year does’t begin until after the Fall Holidays in mid-Oct.
I’ll post what we’re doing in this area about it, soon and share a new resource that I’m using for Parsha studies as well as a Messianic Jewish Mussar program. Mussar (defined as discipline from Prov. 1:2) is basicly Jewish ethics and middot are essentially character traits that one is developing in oneself to live a life set apart and holy. So I have some ideas in how to incorporate this into our year; character training from a Messianic and Jewish perspective instead of a Christian one.
Anyway, I’ll chime in about that soon.
@rachel: a wonderful book that you may enjoy about revering Shabbat is Abraham Joshua Heschel’s The Sabbath. Here’s a wonderful slice from that book:
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