The fifth grade Sunday school class is using, for the first time, the CHAI curriculum. CHAI was developed by the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), and has successfully been used in joint Conservative/Reform religious schools throughout the country. The major focus of CHAI is to give our young people an “Enduring Understanding” of our religion, one that they can comprehend now and apply throughout their lives. CHAI is an interactive program, using texts as references, and is divided into three major strands: Torah (study); Avodah (worship); and G’milut Chasadim (deeds of loving kindness).
For the fifth grade, the Torah portion consists of nine lessons from the Early and Later Prophets (N’vi’im). We will analyze the Prophets from the histories of Joshua, Deborah, Samuel, and Elijah through glowing words of Jeremiah, Hosea and Isaiah. We will explore who they were, how they came to be chosen and by whom, and the different qualities needed to perform their duties. To do this, we will delve into the words of the Tanach as well as other texts. Activities involving employment ads will be used and discussed to determine what qualities employers are looking for, and the class will contrast them with the qualities needed to be a Prophet.
The Avodah strand at this level focuses on the major prayers used in the Synagogue on Shabbat and other occasions. Most of our students are in the second or third year of mid-week Hebrew school where, in addition to Hebrew, they learn the order of the Service, and the Parashot for that week. The knowledge of prayer will be expanded upon, and its relevance to and in their lives, giving the students the opportunity to explore different interpretations of various commentaries and Midrashim. The G’milut Chasadim strand teaches our young people the importance of performing acts of loving kindness, many of which contain concepts they have considered and performed at lower grade levels. Student activities will embrace: the importance of community in Jewish life; showing honor to the deceased; welcoming strangers and new members to the community, including Jews by Choice; concepts of justice and speaking out for just causes; and righteous giving without embarrassing a recipient. In addition to the Chai curriculum, the fifth graders will explore the historical experiences of the Jewish people from the beginning of the Diaspora through the late nineteenth century.
These are the Books used by fifth graders, as well as the links to publishers' web pages.