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.
11th Grade Chumash: Devarim
The book of Devarim contains the final speeches of Moshe to the Jewish people before his passing. Chapters 1-4 cover historical events while chapters 5-26 focus on restatements of mitzvot previously mentioned in other chumashim, earning the sefer the name משנה תורה (a repetition or restatement of the Torah). Through analysis, students can discover the multi-faceted nature of the Torah by identifying the differences in the way events or mitzvot are stated in Devarim and elsewhere. They also gain exposure to biblical politics and what our tradition has to say about topics like kingship, the judiciary system, laws pertaining to war, rules of military engagement, and the establishment of refugee cities.
11th Grade Ketuvim: Five Megillot
We will study selections from the five megillot, each offering a unique perspective on Jewish history and spirituality. Shir HaShirim expresses the deep connection between G-d and the Jewish people. The Book of Ruth takes us back to the period of the Shoftim and reflects on the importance of individual actions in shaping Jewish destiny. Megillat Eicha brings us to the tragic time of the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash and calls for rebuilding. Megillat Esther emphasizes G-d's hand behind the scenes of history, even in exile, and brings us to the time period of the Second Temple. Megillat Kohelet raises profound questions about the meaning of life and offers wisdom and insights, ultimately culminating in a sense of yirat Hashem, awe and reverence for the Almighty.
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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