Our Cheder/Religion School

At Shir Hayim, we have a small but vibrant Cheder, or Religion School, where children can learn in a small-group setting at their own pace. We meet every other Sunday morning during school terms, from 10 am until 12 noon. Typically, each session opens with singing in Hebrew and English, followed by individual and group learning of Hebrew, with the emphasis on reading skills. After a small snack of a drink and biscuits, and a short break, we resume with other group activities during which all our students will focus on a given topic. These topics may include preparation for upcoming festivals, or the exploration of themes of Jewish history, thought and practice. Past themes have included studies in the biographies of some of our greatest Jewish teachers, like Rabbi Akiva, Rashi and Maimonides, the building of a model of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, or some of the key prayers of our services. Each theme is encountered through a wide range of activities, including story telling, arts and crafts, drama, games and songs, graded according to age and ability. More recently, students painted their own Pesach Seder or Matzah plates on china. The plates have now returned from firing, and they are magnificent!

cheder arts crafts

Our children, aged between 5 and 13, are taught in two groups, particularly for Hebrew: a younger one, led by Rabbi Jackie Tabick and an older one, taught by our rabbi, Larry Tabick.

So our children can practice Hebrew and continue learning at home, we have quizzes they can play online.

Our Cheder encourages synagogue attendance by both pupils and their parents, especially at festivals. To this end, we hold children’s services and youth discussions on the High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. On Purim, it has become our custom for the Cheder children to perform a Purim shpiel or other presentation, and the children themselves lead a Shabbat morning service (‘The Cheder Service’ including sermons) once each year, usually during Chanukah or at Tu Bishvat.


Shavuot, June 2016

These were produced by our children in preparation for Shavuot. The younger class taught by Rabbi Jackie have been working on the Ten Commandments, while the older class, led by Rabbi Larry, was examining teaching of the Pirkei Avot on learning Torah.




Making greggers (that’s noisemakers to you)

Is there enough food for a hungry dragon?

Listen to the Megillah, with all the seriousness it deserves.

With Purim rapidly approaching, what were our Cheder children up to? The younger group, ably led by Mikki, has been making masks for this maddest of Jewish festivals, and here are the results.

Cheeky, aren’t they?

The older group, led by Rabbi Larry, had to put some Purim ‘headlines’ into their proper order. They undertook this task in pairs, and did very well – only one out of place in each group. Then their job was to take one headline each and write the story that goes with it. What the results lack in artistry and sometimes spelling, they gain in abundant enthusiasm. And did we have fun!

‘Plot to Kill King Discovered’ by Abigail

‘Haman Arrested and Sentenced to Hang’ by Isaac

‘Jews Defend Themselves’ by John

‘New Holiday Decreed’ by Benjamin