Religious School at Emanuel
At the Emanuel Congregation Religious School we strive to nurture each student. Our experienced staff
of teachers are dedicated to building Jewish knowledge, beliefs and values, actions, and a sense of
belonging. The program guides our students to find their own Jewish voices, encouraging each child to
discover their own Jewish questions. Under the leadership of Tani Prell, Director of Jewish Learning and
Engagement, we serve approximately 120 students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade each
● Sundays, 9:30am-12:15pm. All Grades.
● Tuesdays, 4:30pm-6:00pm. 3rd-7th Grades only.
Pre-K and Kindergarten: Welcome to Jewish Life
Our youngest students receive an introduction to Jewish life! They learn about Shabbat, mitzvot,
holidays and more.
1st Grade: Torah Stories
First graders learn the major stories of the Torah through interactive lessons.
2nd Grade: Jewish Values and Mitzvot
Second graders focus on Jewish values and mitzvot and what this looks like in their lives.
3rd Grade: Jewish Holidays Through Art
Third graders gain a more in-depth understanding of Jewish holidays and explore them specifically
4th Grade: Torah, Avodah and G’milut Chasadim
Our fourth graders explore the values of g’milut chasadim-acts of loving kindness, avodah-worship, and
5th Grade: Jewish Heroes from the Torah to Today
Moses! Esther! Einstein! From the Torah to today, fifth graders learn of Judaism’s greatest heros,
leaders and thinkers.
6th Grade: Prayer and Ritual
As students approach their Bar and Bat Mitzvah year, they begin to think more deeply about the role
that prayer and ritual play in their lives. They consider the meaning of Jewish prayers and how they can
apply to modern life. Students are introduced to many Jewish rituals so they have the knowledge base
to choose the rituals they want to adopt as adults.
7th Grade: Modern Jewish History: Israel, Zionism and the Shoah
In 7th grade, students dive into the history of Israel, Zionism and the Shoah. To put theory into practice,
students have video conferences with a 7th grade class in Israel. They learn together and share their
8th Grade - Entrances and Exits
You have completed your B’nai Mitzvah training. You’re a Jewish adult! Yay! Now what? Instead of going back into the classroom for traditional learning, experience a fun, interactive taste of many different types of Jewish expression in this outside-the-box program. Led by Eli Newell, participants will explore roles of Jewish teens and adults in our world - beyond the walls of Emanuel. Learn more and register at tinyurl.com/EC8thgrade
9th to 10th Grades: Confirmation Program
Social justice is the main focus of study for our 9th-10th graders. Students learn about a variety of social
issues from immigration, to poverty, to racial equity. Utilizing resources from the Religious Action
Center, class time is spent learning about the history of a social issue in the United States and comparing the Torah and our government’s stance on that social issue. Through discussion and discovery, students then develop a project that will help to aide this social issue in some way. Projects could range from volunteering at a women’s shelter or running a synagogue-wide drive. For one Tuesday a month, a confirmation with host a Tikkun Olam Tuesday for our 3rd-7th graders. Confirmation students will lead mini-group discussions with our 3rd-7th graders and help involve them in their projects.
During their high school years, our students have the unique opportunity to serve as role models for
younger students while gaining valuable work experience. Madrichim work either in our classrooms in
educational support roles or in the office as administrative support.
While Hebrew words and letters are used from the start of a student’s religious school experience,
formal Hebrew education begins in 3rd grade and 4th grade with classroom introductions to letters and
decoding practice. Our 5th-7th graders are grouped by ability and meet for the first 30 minutes of
Religious School on Sundays and Tuesdays.
Alef Camp: Alef Campers are in the beginning stages of their Hebrew learning. They spend the
year learning to decode and familiarize themselves with Jewish heritage words.
Gimmel Group: Gimmel Group members are at an intermediate level in their Hebrew
acquisition. They learn to decode prayers and their meanings.
Lamed Leaders: Our Lamed leaders are advanced in their Hebrew learning. They are confident
decoders, ready to take on the Hebrew needed for their Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Their class time is
spent learning modern, conversational Hebrew with the online Hebrew learning program, Ulpan
The arts are at the heart of Emanuel and this is reflected in our religious school as well. Students have
the opportunity to spend 30 minutes every Sunday in music class with our talented Music Director Ruth
Seidner. Students can also choose to join our Jr. Choir and sing in performances at Emanuel and in the
community throughout the year.
Emanuel Congregation is also home to youth programs for students in grades 5-12. Through youth
group, students have opportunities throughout the year to:
● Socialize with their Jewish friends from Emanuel.
● Engage in social action projects throughout Chicago.
● Expand their Jewish learning on topics of their choice.
● Participate in regional and national Reform Jewish youth programming.
● Plan and execute the annual Purim Carnival for the congregation.
Emanuel Congregation Religious School Mission Statement
The mission of Emanuel Congregation’s Religious School is to provide our students with a strong
foundation of Jewish knowledge based on learning Jewish traditions; understanding the history of Israel,
both historically and in a modern context; and experiencing spiritual opportunities. We seek to cultivate
within them a commitment to live according to the ethical and spiritual values of Judaism.
The curriculum is designed with the understanding that students attend Religious School as a means of
complementing the spiritual foundation of home and synagogue life. We strive for students of all ages
to discover the relevancy of Jewish learning to daily life, and through their education begin to make their
own Jewish decisions with a foundation of knowledge and commitment.
Believing firmly that a Jewish education is a social justice education, our youth are immersed in curricula
that allows them to become future leaders committed to creating good in the world. At Emanuel, our
youth learn to carry on the Hebrew language, practice Jewish tradition and values, and see the role the
Jewish community plays in creating positive change. Through this, Emanuel youth are equipped to be
lifelong learners, Jewish leaders, and creators of change.
While equipping them with the knowledge necessary to grow in the Judaism, Emanuel Congregation’s
Religious School is also functions as a home away from home for students. We hope to make every
student feel they are welcomed and loved and to leave knowing that they are part of a community.