The teaching of the weekly Sedra, also called Parshas HaShavuoh, covers the content of the Parsha that is read in Shul that Shabbos. The weekly Sedra is part of the observance and participation of Torah life in a community and should be understood in the context of the annual cycle of reading in Shul.
Parshas HaShavuah has always been treated by our Rabbonim primarily as a platform for values instruction. “Living with the Torah” means deriving every-day life values from the events presented in the Parshas HaShavuoh, with principles such as לבנים מעשה אבות סימן – “the actions of our ancestors are fortuitous and give guidance to their descendants” being a major factor in the reading and learning of the Parsha.
The Sedra curriculum is intended to give the children an understanding of how:
• The weekly Sedra’s centrality to Shabbos observance
• The concept of timeless Mesorah (transmission of Torah and its traditions from generation to generation)
• A global understanding of the Torah, events, personalities and lessons continue to pertain to us today
• Our keen anticipation and delight in the run up to Shabbos
• The richness that the weekly Sedra brings to the Shabbos table
• The children’s vital contribution to the Torah discussions during Shabbos, as each child is expected to share their Dvar Torah over Shabbos.
The teaching of the Sedra is not designed for translations and knowledge of Chumash as this is covered in Chumash lessons. Sedra lessons focus on Mesorah, an overview of events of the Sedra, a glimpse of the lessons, an understanding of the Halochos and an appreciation of the gems all contained in the weekly Sedra.
Another facet of the Parshas HaShavuoh was created by חז״ל, this was the link and reflection to the events in the Jewish calendar – holy days and fasts, creating a cycle where the Parshas Hashavuoh is almost an adjacent to the Halochos and Minhogim occurring in the annual life of a Jew. This carefully planned and constructed connection to the Parsha is dovetailed and addressed in the Sedra syllabus.
For all of the above reasons, the weekly Sedra has its own place in the Kodesh timetable. The lessons are not text based, but will refer extensively to texts. The lessons are fun, engaging and somewhat less formal with practical, hands on learning opportunities, taught with a range of teaching tools in order to engage all members of the class.
EYFS spend 2-3 lessons a week teaching the basic story line, in an age appropriate manner, using lots of interactive, hands-on real life experiences to teach the children the story line of the Sedra. The children take home an activity they have done to demonstrate their learning and act as an aide to help them remember and talk about their learning. This may be through a craft, a set of photos recording their learning or a song they have learnt.
KS1 have 2 lessons a week for Sedra. The children have Sedra questions and a written activity to show their learning and understanding of the story line with a simple practical life lesson learnt from the Sedra.
KS2 spend a lesson a week on Sedra. The children do a very quick review of the whole Sedra and will focus in depth on one element of the Sedra. Each year group will focus on a different area, with the intention that by the time the children reach Year 6, they will have a good mastery of the content and lessons of the Sedros.