The Melton Research Center of The Jewish Theological Seminary and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s Department of Education have developed a middle-school curriculum for students in grades six through eight in congregational schools. The curriculum consists of grade-level modules designed by experienced synagogue-school educators. Based on 4MAT, an educational model that engages students in active learning while considering their individual learning styles, Etgar lessons use a variety of learning activities and techniques. Upon entering an Etgar classroom, one might see students engaged in cooperative-learning groups and self-directed study, reading excerpts from the Torah and other Jewish sources, writing and performing skits, or viewing and analyzing clips from contemporary movies.
In addition, Etgar units integrate Jewish life beyond the confines of the classroom through family education, community service, and practical applications for Jewish living. For example, at the sixth-grade level, the kashrut unit includes shopping, cooking, and serving a meal, while the unit on bikkur holim includes visiting the sick and preparing get-well baskets for members of the community returning home from the hospital. Parents are not only involved through family education sessions, but are kept continually informed through KESHER, the Project Etgar newsletter.
Another key component of Project Etgar is the unique training provided for educational directors and teachers. In addition to attending a summer workshop, participants are supported throughout the year by an Etgar Teacher Educator (ETE), who works with the school staff to achieve the successful implementation of the program.