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Hebrew at Kehillah & JRC

About Hebrew at Kehillah & JRC 

Our Hebrew program empowers learners to unlock the excitement of Hebrew throughout their learning journeys. Hebrew learning at Kehillah is unique, and we are deeply committed to the effectiveness of this kind of Hebrew instruction. Here’s what to know about Hebrew at Kehillah: 

Hebrew doesn’t start in 4th grade

Yes, one-on-one decoding instruction begins in 4th grade. But learning about Hebrew and learning Hebrew words, phrases, songs, and prayers starts from the beginning of your child’s time at Kehillah. All learners hear “Shabbat shalom!” when they come in the door. We sing songs in Hebrew, we have a Hebrew letter and word of the day, and we say some words and phrases exclusively in Hebrew. The science behind this is called a “Hebrew rich environment” and it’s key to pre-literacy skills, just like children learn their native tongue as infants before they ever are taught what sound an “A” makes. 


Hebrew early learning goals (Preschool–3rd grade): 

  • Develop pre-literacy Hebrew skills, including hearing Hebrew sounds and being exposed to Hebrew letter and vowel shapes 
  • Incorporate “Jewish Life Vocabulary” through hearing a developed set of words and phrases 
  • Begin learning Hebrew letters through informal instruction such as games, art, movement, music, and prayers 

One-on-one Hebrew starts in 4th grade.

Kehillah is committed to the “Onward Hebrew” movement sweeping the country. This pedagogy eschews teaching decoding over and over each year and accepting summertime learning loss, just to start over each fall. Research shows that children who spend time in a Hebrew rich environment, hearing and seeing Hebrew in conversation and in prayer, are better prepared to learn how to decode later with less learning loss and more enthusiasm.  For this reason, Kehillah begins teaching learners how to sound out the Hebrew letters and vowels in 4th grade. This timeline is truncated but very resonant, and Cantor Howard is impressed with the readiness of b’nai mitzvah who are preparing to lead the congregation in prayer! 

Hebrew learning goals (4th–6th grade): 

  • Learn all of the Hebrew letters and vowels 
  • Successfully connect letters and vowels to decode words 
  • Recognize Hebrew words as part of “Jewish Life Vocabulary” 
  • Develop a positive relationship with the Hebrew language 
  • Develop proficiency in reading prayers 
  • Understand the basic meaning of the prayers learned and their place in a service 

Learning 1:1 with a teacher is effective, relational, and customized.

At the heart of our Hebrew program is the individualized attention each learner receives through our one-on-one teacher and learner model. Recognizing that every child has a unique learning pace and style, this personalized approach allows our teachers to tailor the curriculum according to the child’s strengths, needs, and interests. This creates a comfortable and nurturing environment where learners can flourish and make meaningful progress. 

Flexible 30-minute sessions each week 

We understand that your child’s schedule is filled with various commitments, and balancing Hebrew with other activities can be challenging. Our program fits into your learner’s life with 30-minute sessions each week. These focused sessions are designed to maximize the child’s engagement and retention while minimizing disruptions to their daily routine. To that end, this year we will take advantage of teachers’ flexibility in location and timing by offering more sessions on Zoom this year. Director of Education Lauren Reeves has been leading an online Hebrew program since 2016 and is convinced of its effectiveness. “The very first thing that teachers tell me after the first couple of weeks is how fun and easy it is to develop rapport with their learners online,” she says. “One teacher got to meet the family pets and see what was for dinner, all via Zoom.” Lauren also notes the ability to hire high-quality teachers from across the country. 

To facilitate flexible learning, our program offers flexible scheduling that accommodates the needs of both families and teachers. In the early fall, families will sign up for a time slot that works for them, and the corresponding teacher will then contact the family. If a session needs to be rescheduled ahead of time, the teacher and family will work together to reschedule if feasible for the teacher’s schedule.

We adopt a “doctor’s office” type policy, requesting that families cancel at least 24 hours in advance except in a time-sensitive situation. If a family cancels more than two sessions last minute during the year, the family may be charged additional fees. This flexibility fosters support between the teacher, the family, and JRC, ensuring parents can actively participate in their child’s learning and acknowledging that Hebrew and Jewish learning are one facet of your child’s growing identity. 

Kehillah uses a customized curriculum created by Lauren Reeves. 

Our curriculum, authored by our Director of Education, Lauren Reeves, is at the forefront of Hebrew instruction. With years of experience in the field, Lauren has crafted a comprehensive and engaging curriculum that balances learning how to decode and read the prayer alongside what the prayer means. The curriculum is designed to empower learners to understand the prayers they’re learning to know why we recite the prayers in addition to how to recite them. The curriculum offers flexibility to teachers and learners to incorporate music, art, movement, games, and more, depending on the child’s interests and strengths.  

4th Grade Curriculum
Learners start the year learning the Hebrew letters and vowels with an online module called Let’s Learn Hebrew Side by Side, specifically designed for learners of this age to fast-track their Alef-Bet learning. After they learn letters and vowels, 4th graders are ready to learn how to read blessings over food, Shabbat candle blessings, and other simple blessings. 
5th Grade Curriculum
Learners continue progress from 4th grade with a progressive series of prayers that build on each other. Starting with the Bar’chu, learners continue to longer prayers, concluding with the V’ahavta. 
6th Grade Curriculum
Learners are making great progress, and they continue from 4th and 5th grade into their final year of learning prayers through 1:1 Hebrew. Starting with V’ahavta, they focus on the blessings before and after the Torah and Haftarah. Most learners bridge this year into b’nai mitzvah tutoring.

Enrolling your child in Kehillah means providing them with a meaningful journey through the language, traditions, and prayers of our tradition. With personalized one-on-one sessions, flexible scheduling, and a customized curriculum, our program ensures that your child’s Hebrew journey is a fulfilling and enriching experience. From decoding to prayer understanding, our comprehensive approach fosters a strong connection to Hebrew culture and values, equipping your child with a lifelong appreciation that connects with their Jewish identity as they create Judaism that’s meaningful to them now and throughout their lives.

Important logistical points about our Hebrew program: 

Who needs to sign up for 1:1 Hebrew? 4th-6th graders participate in 1:1 Hebrew in Kehillah. 

Will Hebrew be in person or online? Hebrew will have both online and in person options this year.  

What will the schedule of days and formats be? Lauren is working with the teachers to create a schedule of available days and times. She will communicate with families 4th-6th graders by mid-August.  

What if the format and time slot I want isn’t available? The schedule of available timeslots and formats depends on teachers’ availability, and as we’re sure you know, teachers are hard to find! We are grateful to have identified incredible, knowledgeable, enthusiastic Hebrew teachers. In some instances, we have prioritized a higher quality teacher who is available for online learning. Online Hebrew, for most learners, is high quality, relationship-focused, customized learning—this mode does not compromise the amount or quality of Hebrew your child will learn.  

When can I schedule a timeslot? Families will be able to sign up for a Hebrew timeslot in mid-August, and those timeslots will be first come, first served. Hebrew sessions will begin the week of September 10. Lauren will contact families of learners with learning differences individually to help ensure learners are best matched with a teacher who can adapt the curriculum to their needs. 

What if my child’s schedule changes? If a session needs to be rescheduled ahead of time, the teacher and family will work together to reschedule if feasible for the teacher’s schedule. We adopt a “doctor’s office” type policy, requesting that families cancel at least 24 hours in advance except in time-sensitive situations. If a family cancels more than two sessions at the last minute during the year, the family may be charged additional fees, as JRC pays teachers by the time they spend preparing and teaching. If the schedule changes long term and the teacher is not available, contact Lauren to arrange Hebrew with a different teacher. 

How will I know what my child is learning? Teachers are encouraged to communicate with families regularly, though not after every weekly session. This frequency allows the teacher to assess learning over time and reduces the amount of email you get. Teachers will follow the Hebrew curriculum and the prayer order as listed above. If you would like to discuss your child’s learning trajectory, contact Lauren Reeves. 

I have a question! Contact Director of Education Lauren Reeves directly at