The best resource for staying informed about Talmud Torah is our Talmud Torah Update e-newsletters. You can see archived editions and/or subscribe here.
Registration is now open for the 2017-18 school year, here. In order to register you will need:
- your Student Information Sheet (for returning students) that was emailed to you on 7/5.
- to view the newly updated Talmud Torah policies.
- to have signed up here for your volunteer commitments for the 2017-2018 school year.
We look forward to seeing everyone (new and returning families) on September 14th. In the meantime, make sure you are signed up for Camp Chaverim from July 24th-28th. More info and registration, here. Also, we will be updating the content on our new website over the summer. Let us know if there are areas that need attention.
We are always on the lookout for inspired and motivated new staff members at Talmud Torah. Take a look at our curriculum tab for a better understanding of the different kind of classes (Sunday cohort, Hebrew, and JEWL) we offer. If you are interested in teaching for Talmud Torah, please submit your resume and this application to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mission Statement, Philosophies, and Policies
TBI Talmud Torah is dedicated to providing students from pre-kindergarten through high school with a strong foundation in Jewish practice, prayer and ritual, history, Israeli life and culture, the Hebrew language, and ethical concepts, in order to help our students develop a positive Jewish identity and an appreciation for and understanding of our shared responsibility for the future of the Jewish people here, in Israel, and throughout the world.
The curriculum is designed with the understanding that the role of Talmud Torah and other youth programming is to act as a supplement to a Jewish home and synagogue life. When students study what is relevant to their daily lives, they become more capable and apt to make their own decisions from a standpoint of Jewish commitment and knowledge.
The Vitality of Ritual and Tradition: Our students and families learn about and experience the joy and comfort of joining generations of ancestors as we learn and enjoy prayer, music, dance, art, and the rituals of the Jewish holidays and lifecycle events.
Parents and Families as Citizens of our School Community: Talmud Torah can only achieve its goals if parents and families think of themselves as partners. Talmud Torah asks parents and students to seek ways to support the school, understanding that volunteering and sharing needed skills are critical to our success. We also ask for parents to get to know their children’s teachers and to communicate a clear message of the importance of Jewish education at home.
Progressive, Pluralistic Judaism: Talmud Torah teaches an approach to Judaism that reflects the TBI community’s membership, which is pluralistic and progressive in its Jewish life. We embrace the motto on TBI’s letterhead, which states that TBI is “a center for Jewish life embracing traditional wisdom with contemporary insight.” We teach respect for the wisdom of tradition and respect for the different approaches to Judaism found within TBI and in the wider Jewish world. We also teach and model a progressive approach to Judaism, including egalitarianism, gay/lesbian equality, the welcoming of interfaith households in the community, and respect for other religions.
Jewish History: Our curriculum offers a broad study of Jewish history from biblical times to the present. We want students to understand that Jews have lived in many parts of the world under many different conditions, and that one of the most interesting and wonderful aspects of Jewish history is that such a scattered and geographically disconnected people has maintained a sense of unity and people hood over the millennia.
Israel: The rebirth of Israel as a modern state carries great meaning for Jews everywhere. We honor our connection to the people, the culture and the places of Israel and celebrate the richness and diversity found there. As with all our areas of study, we welcome diverse points of view on Israeli politics among our students and staff.
Hebrew Language: We first orient children to the sounds of Hebrew through songs, blessings, and activities focused on holidays and Torah stories. Please see our curriculum page for more information.
Tikkun Olam and Tzedakah: We see ourselves as God’s partners in making the world a better place. Learning to care for the earth, to seek social justice, and to show concern for all people and their needs are just a few of the principles we glean from the moral laws of Torah. We regard Tzedakah as not simply charity – although this is an important practice which we include in our classrooms – but as the performance of righteous acts for the benefit of others. Students have opportunity for volunteer work in the TBI and wider community.
Educational Methods and our Approach to Learning: Please click the Learning tab or more information about our specific class offerings and curriculum.
Talmud Torah features much smaller class sizes than most children experience in their daily school settings. And in addition to their regular teacher, most Talmud Torah classes also has at least one madrich/ah (TA). We work hard to make sure we meet each student’s individual needs to make sure everyone feels s/he belongs.
B’nai Mitzvah Credits please see the b’nai mitzvah page for detailed policy information related to becoming b’nai mitzvah.
Grade level cut-off dates
Our Sunday Cohort classes are based on age. Students with birthdays between 1/1 and 8/31 are in the same grade in Talmud Torah as they would normally be in public school. (For example, five year-olds in kindergarten, six-year olds in first grade, etc.). Students with fall birthdays (9/1 through 12/31) can be in the same year as their public school cohort or in the year ahead. Parents may decide this in conjunction with the Talmud Torah Director. We encourage fall birthdays to jump to the year ahead. Our goals with this policy is to:
- Reasonably contain the span of each cohort group to no more than 16 months.
- Encourage our cohort groups to run from December to December, avoiding fall b’nai mitzvah in the Talmud Torah 7th grade in favor of the fall of Talmud Torah 8th grade instead, which is better for programming and group unity during the b’nai mitzvah process.
- Give parents a window of flexibility to meet children’s individual social and developmental needs.
Tuition & Fees
We offer a 10% discount off a sibling’s tuition. That means if you have two children enrolled, the second tuition (or cheaper) tuition is 10% off. If you are able to forgo the sibling discount it is a nice gift to Talmud Torah.
There are additional fees in the b’nai mitzvah process as well as for extra-curricular activities beyond the Sunday morning, Hebrew, or JEWL classes.
Our school is a nut-free zone. We have multiple students with life-threatening nut allergies. We ask that students not bring nutty snacks into our classrooms or upstairs in the school wing in general. TBI as a whole is NOT nut-free. Larger TBI events are likely to include nuts, but school-specific events will not with special exceptions.
Wondering about TBI kashrut policies for bringing food to shul events? Here’s a summary.
Talmud Torah Staff
Gretchen H. Lieberman
Talmud Torah Director
Email: gretchen at tbieugene.org
Talmud Torah Administrative Assistant
Email: kay at tbieugene.org
Talmud Torah Committee
The Talmud Torah committee works collaboratively with the director to support the mission of the Talmud Torah educational program at TBI. During the school year, it meets monthly to review a status report on the program, advise on policies and curriculum, and organize activities to foster a positive sense of Jewish identity and to increase knowledge of the values and practices of Judaism. We also report annually to the congregation on the status and needs of the school.
The committee is interested in hearing from parents and other members of the community. If you have questions, concerns, or ideas for the Talmud Torah program, feel free to contact the chair or any committee member (listed below).
Talmud Torah Committee Members:
Karrie Walters-Warren (chair)
Weekly Schedule for 2016-17
9:30-11:15 all students grades K-7
11:30-12:15 Hebrew classes for participating students in 2-7
1st Period: 3:10-3:55
2nd Period: 4:05-4:50
3rd Period: 5:00-5:45
Calendar for 2016-17:
Here’s a PDF form of the 16-17 calendar. This calendar is subject to change. It was last updated on 02/15/2017. Please refer to the Talmud Torah Updates for the most accurate information.
Curriculum, Policies, and Practices
We have made some monumental changes to our school in the last two years! Our new model has emerged from much research into the trends in Jewish supplementary education and Hebrew language acquisition, multiple parent visioning meetings, and countless conversations with the Talmud Torah committee, teachers, parents, and students.
We do our best to create a school that:
- Challenges and supports students in ways that nurture pride in achievement.
- Balances the needs of individual families and students with tradition and community.
- Features clear goals and outcomes so kids and parents know what they’re learning.
- Honors the diversity in our community, including what defines our Jewish identities.
- Builds a strong sense of community, with peers, between families, and between the school and the larger TBI community.
- Generates excitement in Jewish learning by offering engaging and creative classes.
- Opens the doors to engagement for more students to participate in ways that make sense for their families.
Talmud Torah offers three different types of classes: Sunday cohort classes, Hebrew classes, and JEWL classes. See below to understand the different types of offerings and how they create a unified program of Jewish education. If one of your goals for your child is to become bar or bat mitzvah, make sure you see that page for information about requirements.
Sunday Morning Cohort Classes
Students meet with the other children in their grade levels (K-7) to build community with their peers, develop a basic foundation of Jewish literacy, and celebrate Judaism together. In these classes, students focus on the Jewish holidays and associated rituals, Torah stories, and tefillah (prayer) and music.
Hebrew is part of the oral and aural experience of the class as they learn about holidays and basic elements of Judaism. This provides the essential foundation for learning reading skills in our focused Hebrew classes.
Classes are from 9:30-11:15 most Sundays (barring holidays and vacations) from the middle of September through the beginning of June.
For students working towards b’nai mitzvah credits, each trimester of the Sunday morning cohort class counts as one credit. Students must have attended class at least 75% of the time to earn the credit for the term.
Hebrew Reading Classes
Hebrew reading classes are available for student in grades 2-7. Children need to have a solid aural foundation of familiar Hebrew words and be comfortable with reading and writing in their own language before aleph-bet and decoding skills are introduced. Our Sunday morning cohort classes provide excellent support for establishing an introductory Hebrew foundation with spoken words like Shabbat, shalom, Torah, boker tov, hag sameah, and the phrases commonly used in blessings.
Hebrew reading classes have a clear goal of enabling students to decode Hebrew prayers, blessings, and songs in the siddur (prayer book) and passages from Torah. As students work their way up the Hebrew levels, they should also master a small but powerful set of Hebrew vocabulary words that are used most regularly in synagogue life. This skill set is markedly different from learning to read and write in either their first language or a normal foreign language class.
Classes meet twice a week on Sundays from 11:30-12:15 and on Wednesday afternoons (times vary) for a trimester. Students are strongly encouraged to come twice a week to best facilitate learning, but can master the material with additional independent work if there is a personal schedule conflict. Students are not required to take Hebrew reading classes, but families should be aware that siddur/Biblical Hebrew is an important component of most students’ b’nai mitzvah preparation. If students haven’t learned enough Hebrew, they aren’t able to “read” from the Torah or assist in leading a Shabbat service.
Here are the Hebrew Level class descriptions (including benchmarks for demonstrating proficiency and earning credit).The percentages to the right indicate the score needed on the assessment tool to show students have met the benchmarks and may progress to the next level.
Level I: Aleph-Bet
- know names and sounds of the Hebrew letters including the 26 letters and 5 sofit (final) forms. Proficiency: 23/31 (75%)
- be able to reasonably write letters (all forms) with the support of a sample to look at. Proficiency: 23/31 (75%)
Level II: Vowels & Syllables
- know names and sounds of the Hebrew letters including the 26 letters and 5 sofit forms. Proficiency: 28/31 (90%)
- be able to reasonably write letters (all forms) from memory. Proficiency: 25/31 (80%)
- demonstrate the sounds made by the nine most common vowel signs (see chart to right; names of vowels are not necessary). Proficiency: 15/18 (85%)
- combine letters and vowels to form syllables. Proficiency: 80%
- match pictures/verbal cues with simple, aurally-familiar Hebrew words (As in “point to the word Shabbat.”) Proficiency: 70%
Level III: Decoding Words
- match pictures/verbal cues with simple aurally-familiar Hebrew words. Proficiency:100%
- read 10 familiar vocabulary words used during holidays and in regular Jewish life. Proficiency: 80%
- sound out potentially unfamiliar siddur Hebrew words (reading may be bumpy, but they can accurately sound out the word syllable by syllable). Proficiency: 70%
Level IV: Roots & Grammar through Prayer
- know the meaning and be able to site read 50 familiar vocabulary words used in the siddur, during holidays, and in everyday Jewish life. Proficiency: 80%
- sound out potentially unfamiliar siddur Hebrew words (reading may be bumpy, but they can sound out the word syllable by syllable). Proficiency: 90%
- recognize 5 masculine/feminine endings and 5 singular/plural ending in words. Proficiency: 80%
- recognize Hebrew infinitives, verbs that begin with “lamed” meaning “to do something,” (i.e. to speak, to listen, to bless, to make holy, to stand). Proficiency: 80%
- recognize definite article, “hay,” meaning “the”. Proficiency: 80%
- recognize how prefixes become prepositions and conjunctions for “and” ,“from”, “in”, “to”, “as.”
- recognize how to make a sentence negative using “lo.” Proficiency: 80%
- identify a root “shoresh” in a word by labeling it and defining it (speak, listen, bless, make holy, stand) . Proficiency: 80%
Level V: Amidah In this class students will use the skills acquired in levels 1-4 to continue tackling pronunciation and meaning for the Amidah prayer.
Level VI: Biblical Hebrew Students will begin using their Hebrew skills to start dissecting Torah portions for understanding rather than simple rote memorization.
Level VII: Trope We anticipate that within the year or two that we will have enough students who have advanced to this level to offer a trope class.
Level VII: Modern Hebrew We anticipate that within the next year we will have enough students who have advanced to this level to offer a trope class.
Talmud Torah staff and parents work together to determine which Hebrew level is right for each student. Regardless of attendance (or even enrollment), students will receive one credit for the class (and move to the next level) when they can demonstrate mastery of the benchmarks for that level. Some students may master a level in a trimester; others may take two or three terms to move to the next class. Both approaches are respectable.
Jewish Experience, Wisdom, & Lifestyle Classes (JEWLs)
A solid Jewish education includes much more than just Hebrew, holidays, and Torah stories. Traditionally, religious school has also been concerned with ethics and values, social action work, life cycle rituals, learning about the rest of the Jewish Bible, Jewish history, Jewish culture, and Israel. There’s a lot to cover! Our JEWL classes address this rich assortment of topics. We agree that these topics are an essential part of Jewish education, but families may prioritize the topics differently. We will offer several JEWL classes each trimester for students in grades 2-7 to satisfy a wide variety of Jewish interests and needs. Some classes will have specific pre-requisites or age requirements. Most classes will meet weekly on Wednesday afternoons for 45 minutes, (coordinating with Hebrew class offerings); some classes meet on Sunday afternoons.
For students working towards b’nai mitzvah credits, each trimester-long class counts as one credit. Students must have a minimum of 75% attendance and (when relevant) finish any associated projects or activities to earn the credit. We recommend that you take a minimum of three JEWL classes a year. You may take as many as you like. Most students’ schedules will make it possible to take at least two any given trimester.
JEWL classes in 2015-16 included: Life Cycle Rituals, Modern Conversational Hebrew, Hebrew through Pop Music, Art, Purim Shpiel, Jewish Cooking, Judaism and Nature, Biblical History, PJ Our Way Book Club, Shtetl Stories, People Worth Menschioning, Understanding Tzedaka, Choir, Torah Caretakers, Holy Friendships, Kosher Living, and Hebrew Calligraphy.
Here is the Independent Learning Agreement form.
- Alef-Bet flashcards: One good way to make sure your kids learn the alef-bet is to have flash cards readily available around the house. Put them on the breakfast table. Quiz each other in the car. Look over them while waiting for dinner at a restaurant. You may download a set of cards here (you’ll need to print front and back on card stock and then cut them out), or pick up a set ready to go in the TT office. Any small donation to Talmud Torah is appreciated, but not required.
- Sound recordings of the way prayers are said/sung at TBI.
- hand washing blessing card
- Here’s a short excerpt from the (old but not dated) Jewish Parents’ Almanac on Shalom Bayit, peace in the home.
- We have given every family a copy of the fabulous Beginner’s Dictionary of Prayerbook Hebrew available from EKS Publishing. If you can’t find one, you can get another one from us, the publisher or from Amazon.
- Recommended Reading
- Teaching about the Holocaust Resource Page
- Israel: Here’s an educational news magazine featuring cool stuff in Israel calledIsrael21c, and here’s a 6 minute travel-type video called Israel: Seeing is Believing, showing the diversity of experiences and environments in Israel.
- Hebrew/Jewish educational websites for kids (Some of these may not align with Reconstructionist values as well as others.):
- Talmud Torah’s Hebrew Resources page with downloadable flashcards and more.
- Babaga Newz: Some easy virtual games to reinforce the holidays as well as book reviews and lesson plans.
- Torah Tots: This is an excellent site that has lots of fun games and music as well as information on parshas and holidays.
- The Jewish Children’s Learning Network: A great educational site for kids and parents. Information on parshas, holidays, Israel, the Torah, and more!
- Ohr Somayach Youth Page: Lots of fun cartoons and information for kids
- For more Jewish websites directed at children, you can go to Children’s Judaica.