The study of Tanach is central to the education of our students. Our Tanach curriculum is divided by semester: in the Fall, students study Chumash, and in the Spring, they study Navi/Ketuvim. As will be outlined further below, course offerings are not only sequenced by grade, but also differentiated by level in order to best meet the needs of each of our students.
10th Grade Chumash: Bemidbar
The book of Bemidbar is transformative. Our study begins in the 2nd year of the exodus and culminates in the 40th year, the generation of fathers and mothers who physically left Egypt pass on and a new generation is born free in the wilderness (Bemidbar). The sefer begins in a positive forward movement traveling through the desert, guided by clouds of glory and the pillar of fire. Yet the forward progressive thrust goes through much turbulence as the young nation begins complaining and expressing nostalgia to the slave life and a desire to regress. The inability of the generation to transcend the slave mentality reaches a peak in the unfortunate episode of the spies which brings the forward movement to a halt, condemning the generation to living its final days in the wilderness. A new generation born free with the emotional fortitude to move forward emerges by the end of the sefer. We will follow our ancestors' journey in the desert and see where it takes us.
10th Grade Navi: Yeshayahu
We will study an overview and selection of chapters from the Navi Yeshayahu, focusing on the prophet's message to the people of Yehudah during the Assyrian conquest of the kingdom of Israel. Yeshayahu stresses the importance not only of korbanot, but of justice, righteousness, and interpersonal morality. We will also learn about Chizkiyahu, the righteous king who fortifies Yerushalayim during the Assyrian siege through prayer and physical action, including the construction of the Chizkiyahu water tunnel. This sefer is the source of many famous haftarot, including both prophecies of destruction and beautiful messages of comfort and consolation.
Through the course of their study, our students develop a deep understanding and appreciation for Talmud study – its principles, methodologies, and law. Beyond developing their reading and comprehension skills, students develop training in analytical reasoning and logical argumentation, and learn how to navigate and debate complex legal and philosophical matters.
In order to create a vibrant, unified and collaborative community of Torah learning that cuts across classes and grades, the entire school learns the same masechet (tractate) of Talmud (although, of course, teaching is tailored to be grade-appropriate).
This year, we will be learning Masechet Sanhedrin, primarily the eighth chapter (פרק בן סורר ומורה). In the course of study, we will explore life and death dilemmas in halacha and the complex moral and legal issues that arise in such situations. Selected sugyot (talmudic topics) include:
בן סורר ומורה: the rebellious son
בא במחתרת: standing your ground
רודף: the right to self-defense
מצות הצלה: how much personal risk must one take to save another person
יהרג ואל יעבור: what ought a Jew die for?
קים ליה בדרבה מיניה: criminal punishment
To meet the personalized needs of each of our students, we offer four Talmud tracks per grade.
9th-11th Grade Hilchot Kashrut
This course provides a comprehensive exploration of the halachic principles and practical applications of Kashrut. Students will gain an understanding of the underlying halachic framework that governs Kashrut and how it relates to contemporary issues and challenges. Students will also explore “bigger questions” like how the laws of kashrut impact our religious lives and Jewish identity. Through close reading and analysis of primary texts, students will develop critical thinking and legal reasoning skills as well as practical tools they can use to navigate the complex world of Kashrut in their daily lives. By the end of the course, students will have gained a deep understanding of the principles of Kashrut and developed the skills to apply this knowledge to real-world situations, both inside and outside the kitchen.
10th-11th Grade Taamei Hamitzvot: Exploring the Meaning and Purpose of Mitzvot
In this course, students embark on a fascinating journey into the depths of Jewish law, focusing on the exploration of the meaning and purpose behind specific mitzvot. Through engaging discussions and thought-provoking analyses, students will develop a comprehensive understanding of a wide range of mitzvot found in the Torah. This course not only aims to provide knowledge but also instills a deep love and appreciation for the mitzvot, encouraging students to embrace a lifelong commitment to their observance.
Biblical texts and rabbinic commentaries will be consulted. Through textual and philosophical analysis, students will be introduced to the ancient Jewish conversations surrounding the underlying meanings, principles, and values embedded within the mitzvot. Interactive class discussions will encourage students to share their perspectives, ask questions, and critically analyze the purpose and significance of each mitzvah. Through reflection and dialogue, students will deepen their understanding and develop their own personal connections to the mitzvot.
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