Our School Community

Torah La’am brings together families and students from all over Westchester (and beyond) to create a vibrant, diverse, and highly intentional community. Especially because our students and families come from many different schools and neighborhoods, we place a high priority on community-building in our program. A few ways we do this are:

  • Assembling as a school at the end of every session: Sundays for Havdalah (ritual for starting the new week after Shabbat) and shirah (music), and Wednesdays for tefillah (prayer).
  • Incorporating a 10-15 minute snack and recess during every lesson.  We know that this unstructured time is critical for making friends. 
  • Organizing a Shabbat Noar (children) 2-3 times per year (Shabbat morning program during which students co-lead the service with the rabbi and cantor).
  • Holding Shabbat and Holiday “Kulanu” programs (full community celebrations to mark special dates on the Jewish calendar).  Family Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) – Social Action days on which parents join on a Sunday morning to take part in a social action project along with their children.

Our Curriculum

Torah La’am offers a hands-on learning experience that consistently integrates art projects, social action projects, cooking/baking, storytime for the younger grades, being physically active in lessons, and experiencing joy through holiday celebrations.  Please click below for an overview of grade-specific curricula.  

K-1: Kitah Nitzanim

Our kindergarten and first graders meet once a week on Sunday mornings from 9:00 to 11:30 am.  Over these first two years, students are introduced to the letters of the Hebrew Alef-Bet and to the rhythm and themes of the Jewish calendar, with a focus on Shabbat.  They explore Jewish values such as Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), Hachnasat Orchim (welcoming guests), and Kehillah (diverse and inclusive community), and encounter Israel through its cities: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv- Yaffo, Haifa, Tzfat, and Eilat.  They learn the first line of the Shema, brachot Shabbat (Sabbath blessings), and blessings over food.  Torah Study focuses on the Creation Story.  

2nd-3rd Grade

Kitah Nachshonim, our 2nd and 3rd graders, begin meeting twice a week- on Sunday mornings from 9:00-11:30 am and Wednesday afternoons from 4:00 to 6:00 pm. Building on the letters of the Alef-Bet, they learn the major vowels and begin to decode and write one, two, and three-syllable words in Hebrew.  Basic Hebrew words and phrases, such as colors, numbers, body parts, question words, and salutations- are integrated into day-to-day classroom conversation. 

Our students explore the values of Tzedek (fairness), Briyut (health and wellness), and Shalom Bayit (peace in the home), and encounter Israel through important sites, both geographical and holy, such as Machtesh Ramon, the Dead Sea, the Wailing Wall, and Masada. They learn the V’ahavta paragraph of the Shema, Ein Keloheinu, and Adon Olam. Torah Study focuses on the stories in the book of Bereishit (Genesis), and our forefathers and foremothers.  

4th Grade

Our fourth graders continue to improve their decoding and writing skills with multi-syllable words, moving into full sentences and short stories with simple language. They dive deeply into the values of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), and Haganat Hateva (environmentalism) and begin to more seriously examine issues of identity and diversity and how they experience the world. 

Students encounter Israel through the lens of Israel as a “Start-Up Nation,” learning about the many important contributions Israel has made to the world through its innovation. They learn the Aleinu and the first paragraphs of the Amidah (Standing Prayer). Torah Study focuses on the book of Shemot (Exodus).  

5th Grade

Our fifth graders begin to use authentic texts for decoding practice such as the siddur (prayerbook) and the Torah, and learn to identify common shorashim (Hebrew roots) to anchor their reading. They explore the values of Kavanah (intention), Kedushah (holiness), and B’tzelem Elohim (all humans are created in the image of God).  Students encounter Israel through researching important historical and contemporary figures. 

They learn the Kedushah section of the Amidah (standing prayer), the Friday night Kiddush (blessing over the wine), and Hotza’at Hatorah (the first half of the Torah service for Shabbat morning).  Torah study focuses on Bamidbar (the Book of Numbers).  They encounter the Land of Israel through the lens of biblical archaeology.  

6th Grade

Our sixth graders continue with decoding practice using the siddur (prayerbook) and Torah, and expand to the books of Nevi’im (Prophets), eventually practicing decoding with their own assigned Haftarot portions to get a head start on Bnei Mitzvah prep. They return to the value of Tzedek as justice and explore the values of Emet (truth and integrity) and Hesed (lovingkindness). 

They encounter Israel through the study of its many diverse communities including Mizrahi Jews, Ethiopian Jews, Arab-Israelis, and Druze.  Students learn Hachnasat Hatorah (the second half of the Shabbat morning Torah service), the chatzi Kaddish, the blessings before the Haftarah reading, and Shabbat morning Kiddush (blessing over the wine). Torah study focuses on the historical contextualization of the Book of Prophets and the stories therein and expands on the concepts to consider modern-day prophecy.

Please contact Lisa Jacobs, Director of Family Education & Engagement, at eddirector@betamshalom.org or (914) 946-8851 if you have any questions about our Torah La’am K-6 curriculum.