The Jewish holidays known as the Chaggim or Yomim Tovim are festive occasions on the Jewish calendar that are celebrated throughout the year. As students learn about the mitzvot, customs and holiday rituals connected to each Chag, the joy, anticipation, and excitement of the upcoming Chag permeates the entire school.
Students love learning about the holidays and weeks before a Chag, EHA students can be heard from around the building singing songs, playing games, engaged in drama, role-playing, and working on projects.
In our Early Childhood Center, the holidays are the most significant part of our Judaic curricula. Students explore the customs, laws, foods, songs, and all other aspects related to each holiday and Shabbat. We create projects, tell stories, sing songs, and engage in imaginative play, games, and activities, all to reinforce the experiential learning.
We designed and follow a spiraling scope and sequenced curriculum about the Chaggim in grades K-8, making certain that there is a progression of the concepts the students are learning. New concepts are taught at every grade level while at the same time we are reinforcing the concepts that were taught in previous years.
Students in kindergarten learn extensively about each Chag. Project-based, hands-on learning experiences are the staple expected modality for this section of our Judaic studies program. We use a multi-sensory approach whereby we incorporate dance, drama, music, singing, arts and crafts and baking, to bring home the essence of each Chag to each heart, mind and soul.
Technology is used when it can enhance the learning (watching another community or culture celebrate different customs for example), and our students are continuously expected and encouraged to personalize their learning, applying what they experience in school to their home practice and appreciation for the holidays as well.
First, second and third graders learn about each holiday following the Chaggim syllabus for each grade level. The students learn the laws, symbols, special blessings and tefillot (prayers) associated with each holiday and of course Shabbat. Starting in first grade and increasing with each year, we introduce Hebrew vocabulary and language as an integrated component of these lessons. This is taught through, story, songs, music, arts and crafts and technology.
In 4th grade, the children are old enough to learn the halachot/laws of the holidays in a more systematic and deep way. Technology is used more heavily to augment the excitement and reinforce their learning (smartboard collaborative games are played as a review for example).
Chaggim is worked into their art instruction as well. Each grade will complete at least one major project for each holiday that is aligned with art education curricular material as well.
In the Middle School, the children learn the laws of the Chaggim in more depth than in previous grades. They are given subjects to research and investigate through both text and online research and create digital projects. At Pesach, they create their own commentary to the Haggadah and study it in depth. Over the years, we have done a variety of projects to demonstrate understanding as well as increase excitement about the upcoming holiday.