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Beth El Hebrew Congregation Religious School

Classes begin when students enter Kindergarten and continue through 12th grade. Our Teen program from 8th-12th grade engages our teens beyond B'nei Mitzvah, through Confirmation, and up until high school graduation. Many of our 8th-12th grade students choose to continue their involvement in Religious School by serving as madrichim (Teaching Assistants) in our classrooms.

Primary grades (K through 3) meet on Sunday mornings from 10:00 a.m. to noon.

Grades 4 through 7 meet on Sunday mornings from 10:00 a.m. to noon and ALSO on Wednesday evening from 6:00 to 7:45 p.m.

Grades 8 through 12, including 10th grade (Confirmation), meet on Sunday mornings from 12:30-1:45 p.m. with our Netzer: Teen Program.  

We have a special program for non-members to introduce pre-K through second grade children to Religious School. Non-members should contact the Religious School office at 703-370-9400 for assistance registering.

Beth El Hebrew Congregation Religious School Curriculum 

Hebrew K-3:

K-Hebrew letter introduction 

1-Hebrew letters and vowels introduced

2-Hebrew letters and vowels mastered, short syllable decoding 

3-Hebrew letters and vowels review. Short word decoding. Short prayer introduction.


Hebrew 4-6:

4-Hebrew letters and vowels, decoding mastered. Short prayers mastered. 

5-Hebrew prayers continued.

6-All Hebrew prayers for BM mastered. 


Hebrew 7:  

7-All Hebrew prayers for BM mastered and reviewed. Modern Hebrew and Hebrew through Movement introduced. 


Judaics Curriculum overview:

We strive for our children to get a deeper sense of what it means to think, feel, and do Jewish. We apply critical thinking to Torah, history, and Jewish texts. We apply creative thinking by exploring the stories and traditions of our people and how they can apply to our lives. We explore our feelings of connection to each other, God, the people of Israel, and to our sacred community. We deepen our connection through moments of community building in prayer, joining together over meals, through shared language, and values. We do Jewishly by living out our traditions as a community and as individuals. We perform mitzvot, celebrate holidays, lifecycles, and share our culture with one another. We do Jewishly by repairing the world through sacred service and Jewish living. 


Main Topic Areas Covered:

Torah and Texts





Middot-Jewish Values 


Hebrew language: Prayer and Modern  



Jewish culture 



K-7 Curriculum Overview

Kindergarten-Intro to Torah stories, Jewish holidays, Jewish values 

1st Grade-Intro to figures in the synagogue, Jewish values, more in depth on holidays. Introduction to Israel as a place. We use Shalom Learning's curricula as a guide. (Direct to link) 

2nd Grade-Torah stories from Genesis through Numbers. Jewish holidays in depth. Jewish values. Deeper exploration of Israel and its people. We use Shalom Learning's curricula as a guide. (Direct to link) 

3rd Grade-Torah stories through the end of Moses’ life. Focus on on the Writings (Ketuvim) and Prophets (Nevi’im). Touch on holidays.

4th Grade-Jewish Lifecycle events (Baby Namings and Brit Milah, BMitzvah, Confirmation, Wedding, Conversion, Death), Parashat HaShavuah (weekly Torah portion), and deep dive into Israel. 

5th Grade- On Sundays, World Jewish history from Abraham our ancestor to Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, from the Shtetl to Shanghai. Intro to American Jewish history with a focus on Beth El’s history in particular. On Wednesdays, 5th grade explores big questions about God (Who is God? What is God’s name? Where is God? Does God understand Hebrew best? Does God know what I’m thinking? How do we know there is a God? Is Israel a special place for God?) helping them to develop what they think about God through discussions, art projects, and debates. 

6th Grade-American Jewish history with special focus on Jewish immigration to America. Introduction to the Holocaust and antisemitism. Exploring what it means to become a BMitzvah. 

7th Grade-Explore becoming BMitzvah through the Moving Traditions curriculum, the book Recipe for Disaster by Aimee Lucido. Learn about ways to do mitzvot and sacred service through year long tzedakah projects. Learn about Middot-Jewish values and how to apply them to their lives. (Moving Traditions website) 


8th-12th Netzer Program 

Core Classes 1st & 2nd Sundays


8th Grade Fall        

Comparative Judaism-Elliot Merker

Students will learn about the differences and similarities between Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox, Chabad, Reconstructionist, Renewal, and Ultra-Orthodox Jews all within the frame of Klal Yisrael, we are all part of the people of Israel. As a part of their learning, they’ll meet and engage in meaningful conversations with Rabbis, community leaders, and other teens, helping them to better understand why they are Reform Jews and why it’s important for all Jews to support each other. 


8th Grade Spring-Elliot Merker 

Moving Beyond Tolerance: Antisemitism, Diversity, and Equity-Becca Cook and Gal Spinrad 

Our teens are trying to make sense of the prejudices in our country and to advocate for change. This course will be broken up into two sections. One section will cover the history of Antisemitism and how we can combat it today. The second section will help our students to welcome the diversity of the Jewish people, to learn about the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and to become advocates and allies for diversity everywhere. 


9th Grade

Fall: Comparative Religions- Alex Buttgenbach

If there is one God, why are there so many religions? What does it mean to be Jewish in a world filled with other religions? In this class, students will learn about Christianity, Islam, and eastern religions through an introductory lesson and conversations with various worship leaders and teens in their communities. They’ll explore these religions with the goal of better understanding what resonates with them about Judaism and how Judaism helps them make sense of the world.      


Spring: What is my Israel Story? Alex Buttgenbach and Shy Ashkenazi 

Our history and experiences with Israel are diverse and complicated, but each of us has our own story to tell about our lives as Jews, and our connection to Israel. Together we will explore the stories that make up the narratives we tell about Israel; and we, through debate, and discussion, will find our own voices to tell our own individual Israel story. 


10th Grade 

Confirmation: Todd Bolick 

Our Confirmation class will build upon their past experiences of “thinking and feeling” Jewish and transition into developing an idea of what “doing” and living Jewishly means to them over the course of their lives. What parts of Judaism or Jewish life challenge them? What are ways they hope to contribute to the Jewish community? What Jewish values do they hope to live by? Their discussions, explorations, and projects will culminate in a service/product that represents their individual and collective journey as a Confirmation class. Our Confirmation students will not be participating in Electives, but in conjunction with Todd they may, as a group, decided to attend Social Justice or Kehillah sessions as a cohort. 



Coffee with Clergy: Hot Topics, Current Events You ask. We answer.                   

Students in 11th and 12th grades are invited to have coffee with their clergy. Rabbi Spinrad, Rabbi Romano, Cantor Kaufman, and Rabbi Isserow will rotate through the months covering hot topics and current events. Topics may include Jewish Medical Ethics during COVID-19, Civic Engagement and Elections, LGBTQ+ issues, Race Equity and BLM, Technology and Social Media. 



Coffee with Clergy: Hot Topics, Israel? It’s Complicated, College Bound. 

Students in 11th and 12th grades are invited to have coffee with their clergy. Students will deepen their knowledge of Israel and Israeli politics and how to love and support Israel while advocating for change. Students will also get a chance to learn more about what Jewish life looks like in college by meeting students from Hillels and college campuses all over the country and discussing the joys and challenges they may face when navigating their own Jewish lives on campus. 


Electives-2nd or 3rd Sundays


  1. Eipho HaKitah? Modern Hebrew Speaking 

Has your teen ever wanted to learn Modern Hebrew? This class will be for them! Our students will learn how to have basic Hebrew conversations with their peers and Israelis! 

  1. Two Jews, Three Opinions: Debate with Rabbi Bailey 

Argumentation and debate are the lifeblood of Judaism. Two Jews, Three Opinions: Debate aims to reawaken that spirit in the lives of young Jews today. Our students will explore ancient and Modern Jewish debates through Behrman House’s Judaism’s Great Debates curriculum along with principals from the book I Think You’re Wrong, But I’m Listening by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silver. 

  1. Drama: From Fiddler to Stephen Schwartz- Lindsey Tilles 

Learn about Jewish playwrights and composers like Gershwin, Berlin, Rogers and Hammerstein, to Jonathan Larson (Rent) and Stephen Schwartz (Wicked). Develop and act out your own short skit or play with your peers on a modern issue facing Jews today.   

  1. Jewish Art Around the World- Dara Wein 

Jewish artists and their work tell a story of their lives and connections to Judaism. Learn about and create art in the styles of artists and sculptors such as Marc Chagall, Mark Rothko, Yaacov Agam, Moses Ezekiel, Boris Schatz, Hanoch Piven.

  1. Cooking Through the Diaspora- Sue Keitelman 

Discover and make Jewish recipes representing diverse Jewish communities from around the world.

  1. Up, Up and Oy Vey! Jews and Comic Books- Dana Arnold

Did you know that Superman was Jewish? Explore how Jews throughout history contributed to the creation of comic books and how their Jewish values influenced the themes and ideas of their art and text. 

  1. Jewish Ethics and Jewish Texts 

  2. Jewish Health and Wellness-Rachael Redlus 

  3. Jews and Sports

**Offerings will depend on interest and a survey will go out in August for elective preferences. 


Social Justice Sundays 

“Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable: 

Tough Conversations and Civic Engagement” 

“Hungry and Homeless in America”

Students will explore the realities of food insecurity in America by speaking with a formerly homeless individual and with those who provide services to those who are still experiencing homelessness today. 

Criminal Justice Reform in America 

Tikkun Olam: Healing our Environment  


Kehillah-Community or Youth Group Activities 


Programs for Kehillah will be designed for our teens by teens supervised by our BEFTY Advisor, Lindsey Tilles.


Mon, May 29 2023 9 Sivan 5783