The Mitkadem program is constructed of 23 ramot, or levels. Students may work independently, with another student at a similar level, or with another student in a "tutorial" relationship. Ramot 1 and 2 teach the students the fundamentals of Hebrew reading by developing decoding skills and the use of ritual vocabulary. These texts are designed so that they can be used either in a traditional, teacher-led classroom, a self-paced program, or a combination of both. The subsequent 21 ramot should be completed individually or in small groups. Ramot 4-23 each teach a different prayer using five curricular topics (explained below). On average, students can complete between four and six ramot per year depending on hours of Hebrew school and students' pace.
Ramah 1 introduces the shape of Hebrew letters, the right to left direction of Hebrew and basic Hebrew ritual vocabulary. The book for this ramah is easy and fun to use. It incorporates transliteration and answers with a cover flap in order to allow students to self-check their work. It also comes with a Hebrew Helper Kit, a hands-on, experiential learning kit including flashcards, puzzles, and a matching letter and sound tool, the Alef Advancer.
Ramah 2 teaches students how to decode Hebrew words with multiple syllables. Students practice block writing and prayer vocabulary. The book for Ramah 2 contains fun, self-checking activities. It has a built-in award system at the end of each lesson to reinforce achievement for students and to inform parents of student progress.
Ramah 3 is an introduction to the ramah format. It teaches the students how to navigate the next 20 ramot and introduces the essential grammatical structures of roots, prefixes and suffixes.
Ramot 4 through 23: Each ramah presents a single prayer or group of prayers and continues to develop the students' abilities to read and understand the Hebrew language of prayer. Each ramah is structured in the same way so that students will become familiar with the system very quickly. Before beginning the work of the ramah, the student receives a contract outlining the requirements to pass the ramah. As the student completes each of the five components of the ramah, the teacher signs the contract, showing that the student successfully completed the work. After completing the required work for the ramah, the student completes a written assessment and a reading assessment before advancing to the next ramah. Each ramah has these five components and are color-coded:
Hakdamah/Introduction Students always begin with this component that introduces the prayer or group of prayers. After completing this introductory section, the student works on the next four components in any order he or she chooses. The student keeps all of the components in a personal folder until the student is ready to advance to the next ramah.
Kri'ah/Reading In the reading component, students are guided to read alone or to read to a partner. There is an accompanying CD that helps the student/s practice reading and chanting the prayer correctly. This CD will contain all of the reading sections for all 23 ramot, so that a class may purchase one CD and make individual tapes for the appropriate ramot.
Otzar Milim/Vocabulary The vocabulary component teaches all of the vocabulary associated with the prayer or group of prayers. It includes written and creative activities to reinforce the meaning and definitions.
Dikduk/Grammar The grammar component teaches the essential words, roots and phrases found in the prayer. It includes written activities to reinforce the concepts.
Divrei T'filah/Words of Prayer This component helps to make prayer relevant and meaningful to our children. It includes interesting questions and activities that encourage our children to participate in the prayers of Jewish holidays, ritual, life cycles, and traditions. In this section, students have a chance to investigate central themes of the prayer book and Jewish thought.
After the students complete all five components of a ramah, they must take an assessment test. They have time to study for the test by reviewing the materials. When they are ready to take the test, they go to the designated person, often the Director of Education or Hebrew supervisor. The ramah test involves both a written and reading portion. The written portion tests knowledge of the Hebrew principles and prayer content. The reading portion is a test of the reading and chanting of the prayer. Once a student passes the test, the tester gives him/her the introductory section for the next ramah. If a student does not pass the test on the first attempt, s/he is given more time to review and then asked to take it again. The tester must pass the student in order for him/her to advance to the next ramah.
In general, the ramot progress in level of difficulty (reading and subject matter) and build somewhat on each other, although each school can choose which ramot to include in its program. Because Ramah 3 is an introduction to how the self-paced program works, it must be completed first by all students, no matter which ramot follow.
The following is a limited description of the prayers and skills mastered and concepts introduced or reinforced in each ramah.
Concepts Introduced and Reinforced
Names/Attributes of God
Thanks and Praise; Blessing Formula; Mitzvah; Miracles; Gender Issues
P'tichah/Chatimah; Holiness; Creation; God as Redeemer; Chosen People
Blessing Formula; P'tichah/Chatimah; Chosen People; Giving of the Torah
Barchu, Yotzer Or, Ma'ariv Aravim
Creation; L'olam va-ed; Times for Prayer/Variations; Minyan
Ahavat Olam, Ahavah Rabbah
Chosen People; Giving of the Torah; Times for Prayer/Variations; Brit/Jewish Continuity; Am Yisrael; God's Love
Names/Attributes of God; Mitzvah; Symbols and Signs; Brit/Jewish Continuity; Love of God
Names/Attributes of God; Thanks and Praise; Miracles; God as Redeemer; Times for Prayer/Variations
Names/Attributes of God; Mitzvah; Gender Issues; God as Redeemer
Miracles; Creation; Faith
Shalom Rav, Sim Shalom, Oseh Shalom
L'olam va-ed; Times for Prayer/Variations; Am Yisrael; Peace
Shabbat K'dushah, V'shamru
Holiness; Symbols and Signs; L'olam va-ed; Times for Prayer/Variations; Brit/Jewish Continuity
Am Yisrael; Peace; Eretz Yisrael
Names/Attributes of God; Thanks and Praise; Chosen People; Messiah
Kaddish, Chatzi Kaddish
Names/Attributes of God; Thanks and Praise; Holiness; L'olam va-ed; Minyan; Faith
Names/Attributes of God; Giving of the Torah; Eretz Yisrael
Names/Attributes of God; Thanks and Praise; Blessing Formula; P'tichah/Chatimah; Holiness; Faith
Reading from the Torah: Genesis 1:1-8
Chanting; How text appears in the Torah
Blessing Formula; P'tichah/Chatimah; Holiness; Symbols and Signs
Thanks and Praise; P'tichah/Chatimah
Mitkadem: Hebrew for Youth, may be ordered directly from the URJ Press Web site or by calling the URJ Press at 212.650.4120.