TEACHING TORAH to YOUNG CHILDREN: Creating a Community of Torah Learners

Shira Horowitz • South Area Solomon Schechter Day School •

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The development of this case was supported by the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University
Why parshat hashavua (the weekly Torah portion)?

The decision to teach parshat hashavua rather than teaching selected Torah stories at our own pace brings with it many challenges. We can not possibly teach everything in every parasha. Some weeks, we must rush through or skip sections filled with wonderful stories, while other weeks we must struggle to find anything that seems relevant to young children.

What we gain from a curriculum based in parshat hashavua is a continuity, a sense of community, and an attachment to the place of Torah within our Jewish world. Students learn the cycle of the Jewish year and become part of it. They learn that “this week’s parasha” in our classroom is the same as this week’s parasha throughout our school, in their synagogues, in Israel, and throughout the world. They learn that these stories and texts are so important to us that we read them over and over again. We cycle back through the same parshiot each year, remembering the details we’ve learned before and looking for new meanings and new relevance to our lives.