School Syllabus - Teaching the Tishrei Festivals

At the beginning of the school year, Jewish Studies' teachers devote many hours to the subject of the Tishrei Festivals. This subject contains six themes, those addressed by this series:

a. The month of Ellul
b. Rosh Hashanah
c. Asseret Yemei HaTeshuvah - The Ten Days of Repentance
d. Yom Kippur
e. Succot
f. Shemini Atzeret & Simchat Torah

What are the problems faced by the teachers in teaching these subjects at the beginning of the school year?

1. The teacher has very little time (usually just 2-3 weeks) between the start of term and Rosh Hashanah.
2. There is very little time (3-4 school days) between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
3. There is very little time (3-4 school days) between Yom Kippur and Succot. (Schools opening on Hol Hamoed have a little longer.)
4. The teachers have a large number of terms and expressions and different topics to teach:

a. Ellul
16 terms and expressions and 9 main topics.
b. Rosh Hashanah
39 terms and expressions and 10 main topics.
c. Asseret Yemei HaTeshuvah -Ten Days of Repentance
20 terms and expressions and 7 main topics.
d. Yom Kippur
43 terms and expressions and 10 main topics.
e. Succot
42 terms and expressions and 8 main topics.
f. Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah
20 terms and expressions and 7 main topics.
Total : 180 terms and expressions and 51 main topics.

It is absolutely impossible for any teacher to teach all these in an intensive and meaningful way, nor is it possible for the students to absorb so many new terms and expressions.

5. Every year the teachers may cover approximately the same material, which becomes very boring for the students: 'We already learned this last year and the year before and ...'

6. Since the same topics are studied and learned at the same level and to the same degree of depth in every class, year after year, the students soon find it lacks challenge and regard it all with contempt.

In view of the above, we recommend teachers and school principals prepare a complete, graded and progressive school syllabus.

How is a syllabus prepared ?

1. Each class is to study all six subjects, but not all the laws and topics of each, in depth.
Some of the topics are studied in depth, and some merely in breadth, i.e. as summary or revision.
2. The School teaching team, or Principal of Jewish Studies, produces an overall plan.

For instance, for Succot:

a. Succot contains seven main topics. Each class can address one or two of these and study them in depth. The teaching team can arrange among themselves how to divide the topics between the classes, taking into account the difficulties inherent in the topic and the ability of the children of the class to absorb the subject. For instance, one class may take the laws of enjoying the festival, anther the seven main laws (Mitzvot) connected with Succot, a third the subject of Shofar. The other four topics will only be studied in breadth (i.e. in outline) or in revision and summary.

b. In this way, the teachers can apportion the laws and customs to their various classes. Each class, according to its standard, can concentrate on studying one or two of the Mitzvot in depth, and study the others in outline, or as revision.

c. In the same way, the teachers can allocate to the different classes limited number of key-words and expressions, each class dealing with only a few of these.

d. A plan of the syllabus for Succot may then be prepared, roughly as follows:

Succot Senior classes Intermediate classes Lower classes Very young

Main Topics

       
1. Festival seven days only (8th day a separate festival)        
2. The duty to enjoy        
3. The seven Mitzvot        
4. Ushpizzin        
5. Structure of the festival        
6. Water libation and the 'Simchat Bet Hashoevah' celebration        
7. Hoshanah prayers and Hoshanah Rabbah        

Laws& Customs

       
1. Regalim - Pilgrimage        
2. Living in the Succah        
3. Lulav and Etrog        
4. 'Atzeret' - Holy assembly        
5. Enjoying and 'being happy' - a threefold duty        
6. Hoshanah prayers        
7. Water libation        

Key Terms & Expressions

       
1. Ushpizzin        
2. 'Arba'a Minim' - Four species        
3. Hoshanah Prayers        
4. Succah        

 


 

 

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02 Jan 2006 / 2 Tevet 5766 0