The instructional core of the Jewish Studies program reaches all New Community Jewish High School students throughout their four years of high school. Students are challenged on a wide range of issues through the study of our foundational texts, Biblical, rabbinic and modern writings. Students analyze, confront, and most importantly, interpret the sacred texts of our tradition. Both the texts’ place in history and their meanings and relevancies for the present day are explored. Through interpreting Judaism’s core textual legacy, our students become participants in the interpretive tradition.
We ground our discussions in classical Jewish Text–primarily the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), Mishnah, and Talmud. The text comes alive as we teach our students to look at them from many different angles, just as one captures the radiance of a diamond by looking at its many angles. Students learn a methodology; that is, how to apply a multi-varied analysis of situations in and out of a religious context. Seeing a text or an issue from many perspectives, makes for great students, great lawyers, great connectors, and great leaders in every field and endeavor – people able to speak to both sides of a conflict, and bring resolution because they truly understand the many perspectives involved.
We offer both survey courses and depth courses (four levels of Intensive Text Studies in both Talmud and Chumash). While survey courses enable students to gain a broader understanding of several themes using several texts, depth courses give students opportunities to study text intensively, such as Talmud, Gemara, and Chumash. Both types of courses teach students to view the world through an ethical and moral lens that our Jewish text and tradition puts forth with extraordinary acumen. Our tradition suggests that every Jewish soul, past, present and future, including Jews by choice, were all present at the giving of the Torah. So, unlike any other department, Jewish Studies faculty see their task less as teachers, than as guides in Holy Remembering.
Additionally, we understand from that moment at Sinai that the Torah was heard by each in a voice specific to him or her. The myriad of voices of the Torah finds expression in our community school’s commitment to providing a truly pluralistic learning environment.