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Brandeis University

From the Library of
Rabbi Milton Steinberg








A Curriculum


Jewish Religious Schools





Copyright, 1922, By
United Synagogue of America

Printed at THE CONAT PRESS. Philadelphia, Penna., U.S.A.


This volume contains much more than is indicated by its
title. It not only offers curricula for the various types of
schools that now exist in our midst, but it also aims to give
directions and guidance as to the manner of carrying out
these curricula in practice. The teacher will find in it
numerous practical suggestions as to the subject matter of
instruction, the method of presentation and many devices
that have proved of benefit in the religious school. It will
also be of great value to the principal and to the rabbi in
their efforts toward the better organization and administra-
tion of the school. This book will serve as a sort of vade-
mecum to the Jewish educator, and will undoubtedly meet
with a welcome reception, especially in view of the fact
that there is such a paucity of books of this kind in the
English language.

Although based on personal experience and wide reading
on the subject, a book of this nature should not be expected
to provide for every possible contingency and for every
possible kind of educational agency. There will probably
be differences of opinion as to the ideas and methods here
advocated, or even as to the very aims and ideals which the
author holds out for the various types of schools. It is
neither possible nor even desirable to lay down hard and
fast rules and categorical principles in a matter of this kind
in which personality and individual initiative count for so
much. However, the suggestions and references, the de-
tailed analyses of the various subjects of instruction and
the numerous devices for imparting knowledge will be found
exceedingly helpful to all who are engaged in the work of
Jewish education. In the preparation of this work, the



author has visited many schools of varying character and
has consulted, with experts in the various branches of study
that enter into these curricula, so that many of the state-
ments and ideas herein contained have the approval of some
of the foremost workers in this field.

The Education Committee of the United Synagogue of
America, under whose auspices the book is published, does
not assume responsibility for all the ideas expressed in it.
We are conscious that the book does not contain the final
word on the subject, and that it has a number of short-
comings which a pioneer work cannot escape. We believe,
however, that we are supplying a real need in issuing this
volume, and feel that when used with discretion will be of
incalculable value in the better administration and conduct
of our schools. It sets forth aims and ideals, and points the
way to carry them into execution. It is pervaded with
enthusiasm and a high estimate of the teacher's calling, and
is bound to stimulate and inspire him to a loftier conception
of his duties and his privileges. And, above all, it offers
such practical help and guidance in the organization and
the management of the school for which teachers and super-
visors will be indeed grateful.

I wish to acknowledge with thanks the assistance ren-
dered in the revision of the manuscript and in the reading
of the proofs by Rabbi Max D. Klein and Dr. Abraham A.

Julius H. Greenstone,

Chairman, Committee on Education,

United Synagogue of America.
Philadelphia, July 14, 1922.



Foreword iii

List of Illustrations xii

Preface xiii

Introduction 1

I. General Aims of a Religious School 1

II. Organization of School 1

A. Courses 1

B. Teachers -. 3

C. The Departmental System 3

D. Division into Terms — Summer Term 4

E. Size of Classes 5

F. Average Length of Recitation Periods 5

G. Records, Accounts, Reports 6

H. Attention to Absentees 7

III. The Curriculum — Its Construction and Use 7

Need of Differentiated Curricula 8

Child Life and the Curriculum 8

IV. The Importance of the Method of Instruction 9

Attention to Individual Needs 9

Correlation of Subject Matter 9

Lesson Planning 10

V. Relation between Public School and Religious School 10

VI. Relation with Parents 11

Acquaintance with Parents 11

Parent-Teachers' League or Mothers' Club 12

VII. School Activities 13

1. The Children's Service 13

2. School Assemblies and Entertainments 14

3. School Spirit 14

4. Prizes 14

5. Children's part in Public Welfare Work 15




VIII. Promotions, Graduation and Confirmation 16

IX. The School Library 17

1. The Need of a School Library 17

2. The Library Room 18

3. The Management of a School Library 18

X. School Survey 19

XL Proper Physical Equipment of School 20

1. School Houses 21

2. Ventilation and Heating 21

3. Lighting, Schoolroom Colors, Artificial Lighting System 22

4. Cleanliness 23

5. Water for Drinking and Washing 23

6. Furniture and Class- Room Equipment 23

A) Desks 23

B) Blackboards 24

7. Indoor Art and Decoration 24

XII. Miscellaneous 25

XIII. Some Reference Books for the Teacher 25


An Intensive Curriculum for a Daily Religious


I . Hebrew 31

1. General Introduction — Aim and Scope — Natural method of
teaching Hebrew — Use of text-books and supplementary
readers — Assignment of lessons — Motivation — Reference
Books for the teacher 31

2. Outline of work by grades 34

A. First Grade 34

Aim . 34

Materials 34

Reference books for the teacher 34

General suggestions for the teaching of Hebrew 35

B. Second Grade 42

Aim and Materials 42

Methods 43




C. Third and Fourth Grades 45

Aim and Materials 45

Methods 46

Outline of work for third grade 49

Outline of work for fourth grade 51

D. Fifth and Sixth Grades 51

Aims and Method 51

Outline of work for the fifth grade 55

Outline of work for the sixth grade 56

1 1 . Prayerbook 58

1 . General Purpose and Method 58

2. Reference books for the teacher 60

3. Outline of work by grades 61

A. First Grade 61

Aim and Method 61

B. Second Grade 63

Aim and Outline of Work 63

C. Third Grade 64

Aim and Outline of Work 64

D. Fourth Grade 65

Aim and Outline of Work 65

E. Fifth Grade 67

Outline of Work 67

F. Sixth Grade 69

Outline of Work 69

III Bible 71

1 . I ntroduction 71

Aims of teaching Bible 71

Selections of material for study 71

The teacher and his attitude towards Biblical criticism. . 72

Proper interpretation of Biblical narratives 73

General suggestions as to method of teaching the Bible. . 73

Reference material for the teacher 76

2. Outline of Work by Grades 80

A. Third Grade 80

B. Fourth Grade 81

C. Fifth Grade 82

D. Sixth Grade 85




IV. Customs and Ceremonies 90

1. General Introduction 90

General aim 90

Teaching of morals and manners in the Religious School 90

Teaching of customs and practices in Judaism 92

Bibliography 93

A. First Grade 93

B. Second Grade 99

C. Third Grade 101

D. Fourth Grade 108

E. Fifth Grade 113

F. Sixth Grade 113

V. History 122

1. Introduction 122

General aim 122

Suggestions as to method of instruction 122

Realness of history 123

Text-books 124

Choice of material 124

Use of biographies 125

Organization of historical facts '. 125

Dates and importance of details 126

Drill 126

Reviews and examinations 126

Class mechanics 127

Current Events 128

Correlation with other subjects 128

Use of projects in teaching of history 128

Reference books for the teacher 129

2. Outline of Work by Grades 131

A. First and Second Grades 131

B. Third and Fourth Grades 137

Aim and method 137

Outline of work for third grade 140

Outline of work for fourth grade 14 S

C. Outline of work for fifth grade 140

D. Outline of work for sixth grade , 157





A Curriculum for a "Three- Day s-a-Week" School 170

I. Introductory Note 175

General Aims and Method 175

II. Outline of Work by Grades 177

1. First Grade 177

Hebrew 177

Prayerbook 179

Customs and Ceremomies, History Stories, and Music. . . . 180

2. Second Grade 181

Hebrew 181

Prayerbook 182

Customs and Ceremonies 183

History Stories 183

3. Third Grade ' 184

Hebrew 184

Prayerbook 186

Customs and Ceremonies 186

History 186

Music 187

4. Fourth Grade 187

Hebrew 187

Prayerbook 188

Bible 189

Customs and Ceremonies, History, Music 190

5. Fifth Grade 190

Hebrew 190

Prayerbook 191

Bible 191

Customs and Ceremonies, History and Music 192

6. Sixth Grade l g 3

Hebrew 193

Prayerbook 193

Bible 194

Customs and Ceremonies, History and Music 198





A Curriculum for Two Years 199

1. First Year 203

Hebrew 203

Prayerbook 205

Customs and Ceremonies 206

History and Literature 206

Music 209

2. Second Year 209

Hebrew (Prayerbook) 209

Bible 210

Principles and Practices of Judaism 211

History 211

Music , 214


A Curriculum for a Sunday School 215

Introduction 219

Aims of the Sunday School — Minimum Standards of
Achievement for the Elementary Department of the Sun-
day School — Organization — School Term and Length of
Sessions — The Staff — Grading — Program — The School
Assembly — Social Service — Ethics — Correlation with
other Agencies — Method of Teaching — Equipment —
Bibliography 219

The Beginners' or Kindergarten Class 228

Aim — Length of Session — Teacher — Size of Classes —
Equipment — Method — Size of Classes — Equipment —
Method — Telling of Stories — Handwork — Games and
Plays — List of Suitable Stories 1 — Some Songs — Prayers —
Reference Books for the Teacher 228

The Primary Department 238

Scope — Length of Session — Size of Classes — Equipment
— Organization — The Program — The General Assembly
— Suggestions as to Method of Teaching— Social Service
and Social Conduct — Bibliography 238



Outline of Work by Grades 246

First Grade 246

Second Grade 248

Third Grade 249

The Intermediate Department 251

Scope — Length and Size of Classes — The Program — The
General Assembly — Some Suggestions as to Method of
Teaching — Attendance at Services in the Synagogue —
Cooperation with Parents 251

Outline of Work by Grades 254

Fourth Grade 254

Fifth Grade 256

Sixth Grade 263

by Samuel E. Goldfarb.

Introduction 265

Aim of Music in the Hebrew School — Time Allotment — ■
Song Material — Suggestions for the Teacher 265

Outline of Work by Grades 268

First Year 268

Second Year 269

Third Year 270

Fourth Year 271

A List of Books for a Small School Library 273



Part of a School Exhibit Held at the Central Jewish Insti-
tute (New York) 11

By courtesy of A. P. Schoolman

A Reunion of Alumni of the Talmud Torah at Minneapolis,

Minn 17

By courtesy of E. Avin

The Library in the Central Jewish Institute (New York) 19

By courtesy of A. P. Schoolman

One of the Class-rooms in the Cleveland Hebrew School

and Institute 23

By courtesy of A. H. Fried I and

Kindergarten Class Playing Hebrew Games 35

By courtesy of Ben Rosen

A Children's Congregation at Service 95

By courtesy of I. A. Abrams

A Sukkah (constructed from cardboard) 95

By courtesy of Mrs. Hajnalka Wei tier

A Hanukkah Menorah (constructed from cardboard) 95

By courtesy of Airs. Hajnalka Wcincr

Purim Gift Box with Coyer (constructed with cardboard) 95

By courtesy of Mrs. Hajnalka Weiner

A Seder Outfit (constructed from cardboard) 95

By courtesy of Mrs. Hajnalka Weiner

Geography and History Room 123

Used by permission of the Methodist Book Concern

Dramatization Work in" the School 177

Play presented at the Jewish Center, New York

Handwork by Children 245

By courtesy of Miss Jeanette Greenberg



In presenting these curricula the author lays no claim to
originality. The effort has been to make them expressive
of the results of the best labors in the fields of both Jewish
and general education. For this purpose all available data,
published courses of study, proceedings of educational
associations, results of experiments in Jewish and general
education, and books on the theory and practice of educa-
tion have been used, and freely quoted. I hereby acknow-
ledge the great benefits which I derived from the outlines,
suggestions as to the methods of instruction, courses of
study, etc. issued by the Bureau of Jewish Education of
New York City, the Hebrew Principals' Association of New
York, the Young Judaea Organization of America, the
Department of Synagogue and School Extension of the
Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and from the
general courses of study issued by Baltimore County, Md.,
the State of Missouri, and by the Horace Mann School of
New York City.

I wish to express my gratitude to Professor M. M.
Kaplan, Rabbi M. D. Levine, Rabbi M. Kadushin, and
Mr. L. Honor of the Teachers' Institute of the Jewish
Theological Seminary; to Mr. A. H. Friedland, Principal
of the Hebrew National School of New York; and to Rabbi
G. A. Rose, for their valuable criticisms and for their many
helpful suggestions. Thanks are also due to Mr. S. E.
Goldfarb for preparing the course in music.

In conclusion I desire to express my most heartfelt thanks
to Dr. J. H. Greenstone, Chairman of the Committee on
Education of the United Synagogue, for numerous criti-



cisms and suggestions as to style and the arrangement of
material. Without his assistance these curricula could not
have been published. I also wish to thank Rabbi S. M.
Cohen, Executive Director of the United Synagogue and
the members of the Committee on Education for their
assistance and encouragement.





A Jewish religious school should aim:

1. To bind the children in love for Judaism and in loyalty
to the Jewish people by giving them a knowledge of Jewish
history, literature, customs and religious practices, and the
desire to participate in the Jewish communal life;

2. To enable the children to participate in and appreciate
the life of the synagogue by giving them a knowledge of the
Hebrew language and the Jewish liturgy;

3. To acquaint the children with the Jewish present
through information concerning the life of the Jews in
various lands with special emphasis on the development of
Jewish life in modern Palestine;

4. To make the children aware that the ideals and the
distinctive character of the Jewish people are compatible
with and promotive of American ideals and life;

5. "To create within the child a sense of exultation in
those experiences of his people which have constituted for
the race the very footprints of God, and to implant within
him a high ambition to contribute his share towards the
perpetuation and enrichment of its spirit ". (M. M. Kaplan :
The Function of the Jewish Religions School, Jewish
Teacher, January, 1916.)


A — Courses.

Four courses designated A. B. C. D. have been prepared
and are designed to meet the needs of different types of


Jewish schools, having different time schedules and

1 . Course A — is a six year course planned for those schools
that provide about six and a half hours instruction per
week to children between the ages of seven and thirteen
years. Each year is divided into two terms of about twenty
weeks each. In schools with a school year less than forty
weeks in length it will take more than six years to complete
the work mapped out. According to this curriculum most
of the work is to be carried on in Hebrew, and even history
and Bible are to be given in Hebrew as far as possible.
The children are not to stay in school later than 6:30 P.M.

2. Course B — is a six year course planned for those
schools that provide only about four and a half hours in-
struction per week to children between the ages of seven
and thirteen years. The length of the school year is the
same as that of Course A. According to this schedule,
children meet three times a week, on Sunday morning and
two afternoons (Monday and Wednesday, or Tuesday
and Thursday). The length of each afternoon session is
about one and a quarter hours, and the Sunday session
lasts about two hours. According to this schedule one
Hebrew teacher can take charge of four classes a week,
and the children do not stay later than 6:30 P.M. In this
curriculum most of the work is to be carried on in English.

3. Course C — is a two-year course planned for children
who start school at the age of eleven or over and cannot
proceed with the regular work. The number of hours of
instruction per week is about six.

4. Course D- — is a six year course planned for those
schools that give only two hours of instruction per week.
It is needless to remark that it is difficult, if not impossible
to give any adequate knowledge of the spiritual heritage


of the Jewish people in so small a space of time. Every
effort should therefore be made to encourage parents and
children to devote more time to religious education. In
this curriculum the main object is to foster in the children
the proper attitude towards Jewish things and to inspire
them with love and loyalty to their religion, rather than
merely to impart information.

B — Teachers.

In the upper two grades it is advisable to have male
teachers for boys and female teachers for girls. Women
make the best teachers for the first and second grades.

C — The Departmental System.

Several Hebrew schools have in the past few years intro-
duced the "departmental system" of teaching. According
to this plan each teacher carries one or two subjects through
successive grades, instead of teaching all the subjects of
one grade.

1. Arguments advanced in favor of the plan.

a) One of the chief arguments advanced in favor of this plan is
the opportunity which it gives to get "specialists" to teach Hebrew.
This is especially important for those localities where it is difficult
to procure teachers who have a good knowledge of the Hebrew lan-
guage and its literature. It is much easier to obtain the services of
teachers for the other subjects of the curriculum.

b) Being concerned with but one subject and the subject being
that in which, presumably, he is most interested, the teacher will
prepare his work more thoroughly, and present it more effectively.

c) Rooms may be equipped for each subject. The teaching of
history can be done in a room fitted with maps, pictures, a historical
library, and a single collection of this material suffices for several

2. Disadvantages of the departmental system for the
Daily Hebrew School.


a) While this system may be employed successfully in the Sunday
school, it is doubtful whether it is to be preferred to the non-depart-
mental organization in the elementary Hebrew school. There is
the danger that the teacher will not be able to give personal atten-
tion to individual pupils and their needs because each teacher will
have three or four times as many pupils as he would have under the
other plan. The pupils in the elementary school are but children
"and they need the guiding hand and personal touch of a friendly
teacher who should be all-in-all to them".

b) This plan of departmental instruction also involves many
difficulties in the construction of the time schedule, the program,
and the more detailed supervision of the pupil's conduct.

3. Some principles for the preparation of a departmen-
tal program.

In those schools where the departmental system is used
careful attention should be given to the following principles:

a) Each class should have a "class teacher" for general guidance.
He should be with his pupils at the opening and at the closing pe-
riods, and should be responsible for the class records.

b) The lowest grades should be omitted from this plan.

c) The teachers and principal must determine whether the pupils
or the teacher should change rooms. If the children change rooms
the advantage of specially equipped rooms is gained. The relaxa-
tion gained by the pupils by a few minutes change of position also
tends to react favorably upon their conduct during the succeeding

Special Reference: L.W.Goldrich: The Preparation of a Depart-
mental Program, School Work, Volume 3, page 404.

D. — Division into Terms.

Each year's work should be divided into two terms. The
length of each term should be about twenty weeks. The
first term should start about the middle of September and
end about the beginning of February. The second term
should begin about February and end about Shabuoth.

Summer Term. — There are many localities where it is
possible to have school sessions during the summer. In


these schools, a summer term of about eight weeks begin-
ning with the middle of July will be found very useful. The
regular course of study should not be followed during the
summer term. Particular stress should be laid on the study
of the rudiments of Hebrew, stories, songs and play. Ad-
vantage should be taken of the opportunity to give each
child individual instruction.

E. — Size of Classes.

The size of a class will vary with the age of the pupils
and with the teaching conditions. Ordinarily classes should
have no more than twenty-five children. In the lower
grades or when the physical conditions are favorable a
larger number may be accommodated in one class. No
class however should have more than thirty-five pupils.

F. — Average Length of Recitation Periods.

A variety of subjects should be taught at each session.
The teacher should work out a time schedule which will
provide for an equitable balance between habit forming
subjects, like the reading and translation of texts, and inspi-
rational subjects like history, customs and ceremonies, and

1. Standard length of periods generally adopted.

a) Children 7-10 years old-20 minutes

b) Children 11-12 years old-25 minutes

c) Children 12-13 years old-30 minutes

2. Scientific study in the problem of fatigue has shown that the
daily curve of mental power reaches its highest point between nine
and ten o'clock in the morning, reaching its lowest point at noon.
In the afternoon the curve of mental power rises again, reaching its
highest point after two o'clock. There is no reason therefore why
Sunday mornings should be devoted to the inspirational subjects
only. Where there is no Sunday school attached to the Hebrew
school, regular instruction in Hebrew should be given on Sunday
mornings when the children are least fatigued.


G. — Records, Accounts, and Reports.

No organized school should be without a system of
records. The immediate purpose of keeping records is to
have on hand the data that teachers, parents, and others
interested may consult whenever necessary.

The ultimate purpose however should be to render such
data available for educational science. In order to base
the educational system of American Jewish children upon
scientific fact rather than upon mere theory, we must have
more data. It is therefore desirable that schools throughout
the country should adopt a uniform system of records
which will provide the information necessary to the colla-
tion of reliable statistics.

The Bureau of Jewish Education of New York City has
worked out a complete set of school records, which will be
found very practicable. Professors Strayer and Engelhardt
(Teachers College, Columbia University) have worked out
a very complete and scientific set of general school records
which will be found very suggestive. Copies of record
cards will be found in Dushkin's "Jewish Education in New
York City".

In a small school the following records should be kept:

a) Attendance.

1. Registration Card

2. Teachers Record Book (Bureau of Jewish Education)

3. Pupil's Cumulative Record Card which should give adequate
information concerning the child's entire life in the Jewish school.

b) Progress.

1. Teacher's Class Record Card

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Online LibraryAlter F LandesmanA curriculum for Jewish religious schools → online text (page 1 of 18)