Early Childhood – ShabbaTots (birth to 2), PreK (ages 3 & 4) and K (enrolled in K during the day) – ShabbaTots and PreK meet Mondays from 4-5pm. Kindergarten meets Mondays from 4:30-5:45pm.
Lower School – Grades 1-6 – Meets Mondays from 4:30-6:30pm – Classes held at Temple Har Shalom with free bus service available from Salt Lake City.
Upper School – Grades 7-10 – Meets select Sundays in the fall and spring.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Tutoring – Weekly group sessions at Temple Har Shalom and in Salt Lake City – For details please contact Michael Greenfield.
School Philosophy and Curriculum Overview
“Turn the Torah over and over for everything is in it. Reflect on it and grow old and gray with it. Don’t turn from it, for nothing is better than it."
This teaching from Pirkei Avot captures the philosophy of the THS Religious School and our twin values of tradition and modernity. The stories, traditions, and rituals of the People of Israel begin with the ancient words of Torah. The Reform Movement urges us to live in the modern, questioning world even as we maintain our hold on the precious gift of Torah. Our curriculum introduces students to both the ancient words and the modern world and offers tools for making lifelong choices guided by Judaism’s core values.
Our youngest students, in grades PreK through 3rd grade, are welcomed into Judaism’s Kehilah Kedoshah, our holy community. The key components are enjoyment and engagement, and our primary goal is to foster a positive Jewish identity through Jewish learning, songs, crafts, foods, and traditions. At age appropriate levels, students are introduced to Hebrew letters, phonics, and reading. Holidays play a central role, and the Jewish life cycle and calendar provide regular benchmarks for students to visit and revisit each year. Additional topics include Torah stories and Israeli culture, and every grade helps to lead a Friday night Shabbat service.
In grades 4 through 6, students are welcomed into the Brit, or covenant, of the Jewish people. Bat and Bar Mitzvah (at age 13 for both girls and boys) is just around the corner and students study Hebrew more intensively with a goal of achieving prayer-book literacy. Torah stories that may already be familiar take on new meaning as students delve deeper into commentary and apply the lessons to their own lives. Holiday celebrations continue with an added layer of history and underlying meanings. Jewish ethics, prayer, Israel, and the Holocaust are all introduced at a more sophisticated level.
When students are 9 months from their Bar or Bat Mitzvah date, they begin weekly group study sessions that focus specifically on the prayers, blessings, Torah reading, and Shabbat service that they will lead from the bima. These sessions are in addition to our regular Religious School classes. The group sessions continue year-round with new students entering all the time and other students completing their studies and celebrating in front of the community. While the day of the celebration is a key milestone moment in Jewish life, it is the period of study and preparation that truly turn these youngsters into Jewish adults.
In grades 7 through 9, students meet on select Sundays in the fall and spring to continue their Jewish education. Bat/Bar Mitzvah, literally daughter/son of the commandments, marks the end of their childhood learning and the beginning of their life-long study of Judaism. Students begin the process of finding their place in the Jewish world by looking at the divide between commandments and choice and learning how to navigate the space between them. These classes offer teens the opportunity to examine, discuss, and even argue with some element of Jewish culture, history, tradition, or text. The specific content changes regularly to include current artifacts of pop culture or local happenings. Examples of recent classes include the following:
- An examination of Jewish mystical teachings and their influence on graphic novels, Marvel comics, and the Avengers movies.
- A visit to the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit at The Leonardo in Salt Lake City.
- Conceptions of the Jewish God as depicted in major Hollywood movies from Oh God! To Noah.
- A biennial weekend trip to tour Jewish Los Angeles including the Museum of Tolerance, the Skirball art collection, Shabbat at the historic Wilshire Boulevard Synagogue, Havdallah on the beach, and dinner at Canter’s Deli.
- A conversation about anti-Semitism as viewed through the lens of Jewish jokes and stand-up comedy.
Our 10th grade year is the final year of Religious School culminating in Confirmation. This class meets on select Sundays in the fall and spring for an intimate conversation with Rabbi Levinsky as well as opportunities for reflection about each student’s Jewish journey. The Service of Confirmation, led by the 10th grade, is one of the most beautiful of the year. In addition to leading the prayers and blessings, students share their thoughts at this transitional moment of looking backwards at the Jewish education they’ve been given and forward to the Jewish education they will begin to fashion for themselves.