What is the Barkai Method?
The Barkai Method is based upon the sequential,
age-appropriate method recommended by our Sages in
Pirkei Avot 5:21 :
"בן חמש שנים למקרא, בן עשר למשנה...בן חמש עשרה לתלמוד"
"The five-year-old [is brought] to the Written Torah, the ten-year-old to Mishnah…the fifteen-year-old to Talmud…"
This was developed into a wide-reaching curriculum for modern-day schooling by founder Rav Dan Be'eri. The Barkai Method enables children to learn large amounts of Torah in an enjoyable manner, and to see for themselves how the levels of Torah are interconnected and build upon each other. The Barkai Method also regards all manners of learning about the world as part of Torah learning. General knowledge is not seen as a supplement or adjunct to Torah studies, but as an integral part with inherent value.
How does it work?
In the early grades especially, the Barkai Method
emphasizes the importance of understanding the literal
meaning of the text, the peshuto shel Mikra.
Together with the letters of the aleph-bet, the children are taught the cantillation marks of Tanakh (ta'amei haMikra).
In the classroom, the teacher reads and explains a given passage, often with the aid of props, illustrations, activities and dramatic re-enactments. When the children understand the words and content of the verses, they sing them together out loud several times, cheder-style. The singing and repetition enable the children to commit large quantities of material to memory with ease.
In order to better understand the Torah being learned, children learn – usually experientially -- all manner of relevant material in arts and sciences, be it astronomy, pottery, biology, weaving, etc. We try to maintain a Tanakh room equipped with props and tools to help children re-enact and explore various aspects of biblical life.
In the older grades, students deepen their knowledge through study of classical commentary, Navi, Mishnah and eventually Talmud. It is introduced in the 6th grade with continued study of Mishnah.
It's important to note that the Barkai Method sees parents as partners in their children's education. Barkai requires a daily commitment on the part of parents to follow up with children at home by listening to their reading (in the early grades) and learning together with them. We have been told by parents, time and time again, that both parent and child reap the rewards of this investment in learning Torah together.
Does my child need to be reading before first grade?
Your child will need to have basic Hebrew reading
skills. If he or she has not attended the Mechina, we
suggest that you be in touch with us and receive guidelines
for how best to prepare your child for first grade.
In addition, as your child goes through the first few years of school in Orot Etzion, you should be prepared to devote about a half an hour of time daily to practice reading with your child.
How does the school deal with recent olim whose Hebrew is not yet up to par?
Orot Etzion has taken the initiative in making olim
feel at home in Israel and the school has become a draw
for immigrants from around the world. The OE
educational network now takes in about 40 new olim
every year and has helped make Gush Etzion the vital,
vibrant community it is today.
Specific programs include extra Hebrew language tutoring, an optional city-wide ulpan (language workshop) for children from age 8. The programs available to your child depend upon which school she is in and his or her age. Contact us for more information.
What kind of schools do Orot Etzion graduates attend?
Most of our graduates choose to continue their education in Orthodox Zionist schools in Gush Etzion and the greater Jerusalem area.