The history program at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School is a four-year curriculum that utilizes critical thinking skills, reading, writing, research and discussion in the study of Western civilizations, U.S. History, Jewish History and the Middle East. Electives are available in political science and economics.Throughout their four years at Rochelle Zell, students examine historical issues from a variety of perspectives and have opportunities to act like historians–interpreting primary sources, analyzing evidence, evaluating arguments and detecting bias. Students engage in role playing, simulations, debates and presentations; they also experience instruction through lecture and discussion.
While Rochelle Zell students learn about history, they also learn to use historical thinking to make sense of our current world by addressing some of the thought-provoking and essential questions that have been posed throughout history and continue to be debated today. Teachers of history collaborate with their colleagues to include lessons, projects or units of study coordinated with courses in other disciplines. Most of the courses offered by the department have a Jewish history component.
The Western Civilization I course begins with the study of the ancient civilization of Sumer and includes Egypt, Babylonia, Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration. Students study basic principles of both Islam and Christianity. The corresponding Jewish history course examines the history of the biblical world, the conquest of Canaan, First and Second Temple periods, life in Muslim and Christian Middle Ages and life in Spain through the expulsion.
The Western Civilization II course begins with the Reformation and includes the age of the monarchies, Enlightenment, French Revolution, 19th Century responses to revolution, World War I, rise of totalitarian societies, World War II and post-World War II Europe. The course concludes with an examination of the Cold War and its demise. This course has the option of an honors component that addresses the same material with an AP European History textbook and offers more difficult reading and essay assignments.
Jewish History II
The corresponding Jewish History II course begins with Luther’s relation with the Jews and includes false messiahs, Jewish responses to the Enlightenment, Hasidut, Haskalah and Emancipation, anti-Semitic events in late 19th and early 20th century Europe, Jewish participation in World War I and Holocaust and post-World War II European Jewish communities.
The U.S. History class is a chronological survey that begins with colonial America and includes the American Revolution, development of institutions of government, War of 1812, growth of the country antebellum, Civil War, industrialization, immigration and 20th Century changes in domestic and foreign policy as the U.S. entered World Wars I and II and became a super power post-World War II. The course examines the Civil Rights movement, Korea, Vietnam and the 1980s. Every effort is made to bring the course as close to the present as possible. The corresponding Jewish History units are interspersed with the general material. The course devotes considerable time to composition skills, including an in-depth term paper based on U.S. history. The U.S. History course has College Prep and AP options.
For seniors, the Modern Middle Eastern Studies course begins with an examination of the Middle East in the period of the Ottoman Empire. The course includes Egypt, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia as well as an in-depth study of modern Israel and the Palestinians. The emphasis is on history, culture and religion; issues that surround moving from a traditional to a modern society and contemporary issues concerning conflict in the region.
The Political Science course focuses on government and U.S. Constitutional issues. The focus is on the refinement of critical thinking skills through debate and analysis of opposing views, as well as the study of Supreme Court decisions.
AP Macroeconomics will be offered to interested seniors and includes a basic study of the principles of microeconomics through case study and current example.
Did you know?
Some of our students opt to do independent study in the areas of AP European History, AP World History and AP Government and Politics.
"I have been more involved in sports and clubs than ever before, which has made it the best year yet! RZ's understanding teachers and supportive community foster a collaborative environment which ensures each student's success. For next year, I hope to take on a greater leadership role in both the sports teams and clubs I am involved with. "