Congregation Etz Chaim of DuPage County

Religious School Programs

Ma'aseem Toveem, Climbing the Tree of Life

This year we are doing our special family enrichment program Ma'aseem Toveem again. Booklets were sent home with the youngest member of the family grades kindergarten through seventh grade. Families have the option of doing eighteen (chai) projects during the year. With each six projects completed the family will receive a beautiful prize.If your child did not receive a booklet, please let us know and we will make sure your child has one the next time he/she is in the building.











Tu B’Shevat Family Program: In February, parents join with their kindergarten children to learn about the modern holiday of Tu B’Shevat. Families talk about the value of trees and eat many different kinds of fruits, all of which can be grown in Israel.

Mock Shabbat: Parents join with their children to see, hear and learn about Shabbat and its many components. The children bake challah, make candlesticks, and recite the Shabbat blessings as part of the program.

First Grade

Creation Family Program: Each fall, the first-graders and their parents spend part of the morning learning together about the creation story. This is the kick-off to the Shabbat unit learned in class. Parents spend time learning together with the educator to begin the program. Later, the children join with their parents to discuss the different days of creation and make “Creation” booklets.

Shabbat Family Dinners: As a culmination to the Shabbat unit, families are divided into groups and each group has a Shabbat dinner in the home of one of the families. It has become a nice way for families to meet others from their area.

Parent Connection: During the year the children take out books from a class library to read at home with their parents. Beginning in January, each family is assigned a week to come in and make a presentation about a book from the collection.

Second Grade View a Slideshow

The Mamas and the Papas: This family program parallels the curriculum and comes when the students are learning about Jacob. The first part of the program is for the parents, who engage in some Torah study with the educator. Following this, the parents and children do some interactive activities while reinforcing their learning about the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. Each family then makes a book about these ancestors. Families also get their picture taken in “biblical garb” and have a chance to taste foods mentioned in the bible.

Grades 3-7

Each school year there is a program for all students in grades 3 through 7 and their parents. In spring 2006, at "The Power of One" program, some of our own students and adult members of our congregation, as well as people from outside our Etz Chaim family, spoke about special things they had done that really made a difference in the world. In fall 2006, families will explore the contents of each of the books of the Torah at the "Etz Chaim, Tree of Life" program.

Third Grade

The Hebrew Name Program: During this program, parents and their third-graders come together to learn about Hebrew names. There are three stations through which families rotate. Station 1 has families discussing the Hebrew name given to their child; station 2 has families learning the stories of Avram, Sarai and Jacob changing their names as read in the Torah; station 3 has families decorating a name plaque which is then framed and taken home.

Fourth Grade

Death and Mourning Practices: During this program, families come together to learn from a Jewish funeral director about Jewish customs associated with this life-cycle event.
Prophets Jeopardy: The students create Powerpoint presentations to learn about their prophet and then show their parents these presentations. They then play Prophets Jeopardy, reinforcing their knowledge.

Fifth Grade View a Slideshow

Israel Map Experience: During this program, parents and fifth-graders come together to learn about the geography of Israel and other aspects of Israeli life. This is done with the giant floor map on which everyone can walk to find various places in Israel.

Sixth Grade

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Workshop: In April, parents and sixth-graders spend a morning together learning about the meaning of bar/bat mitzvah. As part of the program, families will see where their child’s portion is in the Torah and the child will have the opportunity to actually read a few words from the beginning of his/her portion. Another aspect of the program is beginning to learn about the portion and finding key parts in the portion. Also, parents and children engage in conversation about responsibilities associated with becoming bar/bat mitzvah.

Seventh Grade

On a Sunday morning, parents come to Judaica class with their seventh-graders and engage in Torah study together. The students study this each week and this program gives parents the opportunity to engage in the same type of study with their child.

Grades 8-10

Each January we have a family program for the upper-school students. Topics vary from year to year, but each one engages the parents and students together.