Welcome to Vassar Temple’s Hebrew School page!
This year, the Hebrew School will use the Mitkadem self-paced Hebrew learning curriculum. Here is some information on Mitkadem:
What is Mitkadem?
Mitkadem: Hebrew for Youth is an innovative, self-paced Hebrew prayer and ritual program designed to empower every child to learn Hebrew. Mitkadem was created with an understanding of the realities of supplementary Jewish education (e.g., limited time, inconsistent student attendance, different levels of Hebrew knowledge, different levels of motivation and involvement with Jewish practice) and is part of a comprehensive approach to Hebrew education.
The Mitkadem program consists of twenty-three Ramot (levels) that introduce letters and vowels, prayers from the worship service, Jewish concepts, basic grammar, and vocabulary. Beginning with Ramah 3, Mitkadem becomes a self-paced, self-directed Hebrew learning program. Ramah 3 is the m’chinah or preparatory Ramah that introduces students to the Mitkadem system. Each subsequent Ramah covers a particular prayer or family of prayers that share a theme. As students successfully complete a Ramah (and pass both an oral and written test), they advance to the next. Rather than traditional textbooks, every Ramah includes a number of pamphlets with activities divided into five categories:
Hakdamah: Introductory activities that set the stage for the theme of each prayer and related activities. These activities serve as an “advanced organizer” for the unit and must be completed before moving on to the remaining activities.
K’riah: Reading activities that drill decoding skills, fluent reading of the prayer, and if appropriate, chanting of the prayer.
Otzar Milim: Vocabulary activities drill key words and important phrases found within the prayer.
Dikduk: Grammar activities teach and have students use roots, prefixes, and suffixes found within the prayer.
Divrei T’filah: The activities in “Words about Prayer” emphasize concepts and critical thinking skills. In this section, students delve into the theological and philosophical ideology expressed in Jewish liturgy.
The Ramot are designed for self-study, and students work through them at their own pace, individually or in small groups. The Mitkadem program is supported by a full range of teacher’s guides, audio CDs, and student manipulatives, as well a comprehensive network of professional and peer support.
What are the benefits of a self-paced approach?
The self-paced nature of Mitkadem allows each student to be involved and engaged with the material at his or her own level. This approach provides numerous benefits:
- There is no longer any need for a teacher to go back and cover material a second or third time because some students missed a lesson or because some students have not yet grasped the material.
- Motivated and knowledgeable students can proceed quickly through the material. They will feel a sense of accomplishment and understand that Jewish study can be challenging and stimulating.
- Students who have more difficulty with Hebrew and/or are absent frequently can pick up wherever they left off. Teachers can track their progress much easier and help those needing extra help over the bumps giving them more attention. These students may not cover as much material as more proficient students, but they too will feel good about and grounded in what they do accomplish. They need not feel “left behind” or self-conscious when compared with their classmates.
- With all students occupied at their own level, behavior problems in the classroom diminish significantly.
- If a few students fall behind or want to progress more quickly, they can do work at home with no disadvantage to those students who do not do work at home.
- Students cannot “fall through the cracks.” With constant monitoring of work, it is clear if a student is falling behind, doesn’t understand material, or is reading below grade level.
- There is an online program that can support or take the place of the learning being done in the classroom in case a student is consistently absent due to illness or sports.