The LCLJ curriculum is designed around helping students answer the question, “How is Judaism relevant to me and my world?” This isn’t a question to be answered only once, but one our students revisit continuously throughout their education.
Our curriculum weaves together ancient texts and theology with modern ideas and student experiences to help students and families understand what it means to live and act as a Jew in the world today. Our students engage with Judaism through project-based learning, an education method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge.
The success of the learning experience depends on every student’s participation; children are missed when they are not in class. We know every family has much going on, but bringing your children to the LCLJ each week ensures a positive learning environment for all and the best experience for your child.
Curriculum by Grade
Grades Pre K–2
Our younger students receive “a taste” of project-based learning as they spend their year exploring one topic and answering a driving question. Topics include Jewish symbols, Jewish holidays and blessings, and Torah stories. Learning culminates at the end of the school year with a family night showcase, where families and community members are invited to learn about and engage with students’ final projects.
Grades pre-K–2 learn songs and prayers for holidays and curriculum content. They are exposed to core prayers in both Central’s Kabbalat Shabbat (Friday night) and Shabbat Shacharit (Saturday morning) services, such as Barchu, Shema, and Oseh Shalom. Students also begin learning Hebrew in pre-K using Hebrew Through Movement, which helps them get used to hearing Hebrew words and associating words with body movements. Beginning in 2nd grade, students learn their letters and the basics of decoding.
PowerPoint slides from our most recent Pre-K–2nd Grade Curriculum Night available to view here.
Our 3rd through 6th grade students work on projects related to different topics over 8–10 weeks, with each topic building on the previous one. The end of each unit culminates in a family learning night showcase, where families and community members learn about and engage with students’ final projects.
Grades 3 and 4 build upon the prayers previously studied and focus on learning the words and meaning of core prayers in the Kabbalat Shabbat service (e.g. L’cha Dodi, Mi Chamocha, Hashkiveinu, and the Amidah). Our 5th through 6th grade students learn Central’s Shacharit Shabbat Service (e.g., Kedusha, Aleinu, Shema V’ahavta), while also focusing on the order of the service and exploring the meaning behind the prayers. Beginning in 3rd grade, students are divided into small Hebrew groups based on level, including a group for students beginning Hebrew studies for the first time who previously never had Hebrew instruction.
Here’s a sample of topics we explore in each grade:
- 3rd grade: the Jewish calendar, Shabbat and creation, and Genesis
- 4th grade: Exodus, Jewish rituals, and the Land, People, and Culture of Israel
- 5th grade: Israel: the birth of the state, Jewish life cycle events, and Jewish law
- 6th grade: God, the Holocaust and Tikkun Olam
See our most recent 3rd–7th Grade Curriculum Night PowerPoint here.
Our 7th grade curriculum consists of three seminars throughout the year, with family learning nights after each seminar where all can engage with the content. Seminar topics include “How To Be a Young, Jewish Adult and The Book of Why,” “PG-13 Torah,” and “Jewish Ethics.”
Following each seminar, 7th graders also participate in community building programs that focus on tikkun olam, or repairing the world, through activities such as making sandwiches for Central’s Breakfast Program or baking and selling challah for Challah for Hunger. Please note these activities are examples and are subject to change.
Click here to learn about our B’nei Mitzvah process.
Grades 8 & 9
Our 8th- and 9th-grade curricula offer flexible learning opportunities for CenSyn Teens to continue their Jewish education through the LCLJ’s Jewish Leadership Institute and Seminars Program. Our Seminars Program allows students the flexibility to enroll throughout the year in up to five seminars (6 weeks each) on topics such as “Jewish Culture Around the World," “Jewish Cooking,” "Jewish Advocacy," “Arab-Israeli Conflict,” and “The Holocaust.” Students enrolled in the Jewish Leadership Institute have the opportunity to take part in all 8th/9th grade seminars, as well as a Jewish Leadership Seminar, where they learn from influential lay leadership in Central’s congregation and begin to develop their roles as Jewish leaders.
2022–23 Jewish Leadership Institute and Seminars Program schedule and pricing
Our 10th grade year is framed around the idea, “Know where you come from to know where you are going.” Students have the opportunity to participate in a weekly confirmation program taught by Rabbi Ari Lorge, with guest visits from other Central clergy. Students explore Jewish texts and traditions, current events, Jewish history, and their own individual and communal identities. We focus on creating community as a class through our confirmation retreat in the fall and international trip in the spring. The year culminates in a Central tradition that is more than 170 years old, as students lead the Central Synagogue Shavuot Service, confirming their Jewish identity before the entire congregation.
Grades 11 & 12
Our 11th and 12th grade students meet once a month to discuss a current event or topic, and learn more about what Jewish life on college campuses might look like.
It is our goal that every child who attends the LCLJ regularly be able to decode Hebrew to put together words and sounds fluidly. Our Hebrew curriculum is based around the siddur, enabling students to decode and chant prayers and understand their general meaning and origin. Research shows that the more children are exposed to a language, the easier it is for them to learn. We encourage families to enroll students in the LCLJ at an early age to increase children’s familiarity and fluency. Information on the LCLJ Hebrew curriculum by grade is available in the curriculum section by grade above.
At the LCLJ, it is our goal that students acquire the ritual and liturgical skills to empower them to be active participants in t’filah and holiday rituals, and to experience t’filah as a way to connect to and cultivate a personal relationship with God and their Jewish community. All of our learners study holiday-specific prayers, such as the Chanukah blessings and the Four Questions. Details about the LCLJ t’filah curriculum by grade are available in the curriculum section by grade above. Please also visit Central’s t’filah playlist on YouTube for songs and video for the entire family.
Project-Based Learning (PBL)
Our educators are trained by the Buck Institute for Education, one of the leading innovators of the PBL. We believe that PBL allows our students to examine a topic in-depth, while forming a cohesive community with their classmates, finding relevance in Judaism, and discovering ways large and small to transform their community, Central, and the world.
We invite you to be our partners in project-based learning. If you would like to learn more about it, here are some resources we recommend:
- Here is a short explanation of project-based learning and here is a longer one.
- Project-based learning resources for parents
- Here is a short video showing project-based learning at a school in Boston.
- “Most Likely to Succeed,” by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith, as well as the accompanying documentary by the same name, will give you a sense of why we chose PBL as our curricular framework.
- "An Ethic of Excellence,” by Ron Berger, will give you a window into the kind of impact PBL can have on a school and community.
Becoming bat/bar/b’nei mitzvah is a bold step in joining the 3,000-year conversation about living Jewishly. The bat/bar/b’nei mitzvah calls upon our young adults to read and teach from the Torah and touches on our physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual selves in the most meaningful of ways as we recognize a young person’s entrance into adulthood. Central’s cantors, rabbis, tutors, and lay leaders work closely with families in this process, ensuring each mitzvah is special and deeply meaningful. Please click here to learn more about our b’nei mitzvah program.
Rabbi, Director of Youth and Family Education
(212) 838-5122 x4031
Director of the Lese Center for Living Judaism
(212) 838-5122 x4043
Manager of B’nei Mitzvah Programs and LCLJ Support
(212) 838-5122 x4048
Director of Developmental Learning & Special Education
(212) 838-5122 x4044
Assistant Director of the LCLJ
(212) 838-5122 x4271
Assistant Director of the LCLJ
(212) 838-5122 x4040