שְׁמַעJewish Education Center of ClevelandSiegal College of Jewish Studies

Discussions at the end of the 2009-2010 school year, spurred on by a variety of articles and postings on http://TheHebrewProject.wikispaces.com, led Cleveland’s Jewish educators to begin the process of rethinking the teaching of Hebrew and prayer. It was becoming more and more apparent that:
  • Hebrew prayer study is hard. If one were to pick an engaging text to introduce to an already disengaged 4th or 5th grader, chances are that Yotzer Ohr or Kiddushwould not be at the top of the list. Also, the language of Hebrew prayers is on an adult level, both grammatically and conceptually.
  • Even with the best of teachers, there were too many students on the verge of Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparations who did not decode with 98% accuracy. It was felt that this was partially caused by the drop in days students attend "HebrewSchool" (from 3 days down to 2). And, it was felt that this situation could be ameliorated with more efficient teaching.
With the expertise of Dr. Lifsa Schachter (SiegalCollege), and the support of Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz (JECC Curriculum Department) and Ronna Fox(JECCTeacherCenter), Cleveland's supplementary school directors came around the table to rethink the teaching of Hebrew prayer. Lifsa taught the group core principles of Hebrew and Hebrew learning. As a result of a very stimulating two hour session, the school directors wanted to see how their new understandings of Hebrew and prayer education might be applied to specific prayer. So they chose to create a model/pilot curriculum, with support materials, focused on אָבוֹת-אִמָהוֹת. Teacher and director feedback led to the creation of two more documents – one on שְׁמַע (this one) and one its first paragraph וְאָהַבְתָּ found:http://JECCHebrewPrayer-Vahavta.wikispaces.com.
With the help of Ronna Fox, JECC Teacher Center Director, the שְׁמַע curriculum and its supports are provided in three formats:
1) A multi-page curricular document (print this back-to-back)

2) For those using Hebrew Through Movement, this version of the curriculum integrates Hebrew Through Movement (Hebrew TPR) - see page 23 and following

3) A wikispace that holds all the background and the documents, nabling teachers to access the information 24/7 in formats that are helpful to their planning. http://jecchebrewprayer-shma.wikispaces.com/

Feel free to check out our other t'fillah wikis

This one focuses on ideas for enhancing actual worship experiences: http://withallourhearts.wikispaces.com
We welcome your questions or comments:
Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz, nmoskowitz@jecc.org Lifsa Schachter, lschachter@siegalcollege.edu Ronna Fox, rfox@jecc.org