The Jewish Studies Program at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School prepares students for independent lifelong learning of the core texts of our tradition. Our aim is to produce graduates who have a strong foundation in Jewish text along with a sophisticated and articulated theology—a commitment to Jewish living and an active participation in the greater society.
The Jewish studies program at Rochelle Zell comprises of three academic departments: Talmud, Bible and Jewish Thought.
The Talmud program is a chevruta-based program (involving independent study of texts with a partner) that is designed to teach students the skills and knowledge they need to study Talmud on their own. In each unit of study, students encounter a new text in chevruta. Students are asked to outline, explain and analyze the text. They are provided with support materials; a reference library and access to their teacher to assist them as they work to master the text. Following chevruta study, students gather together to review their work and discuss the text. Specific text skills are taught along the way. As students move from unit to unit and course to course, the texts increase in difficulty and the materials provide students with less scaffolding to support their study. Students are required to take three years of Talmud; they may choose to continue to study Talmud for a fourth year to fulfill their overall Jewish studies requirement.
The Bible program is also a chevruta-based program that is designed to teach students the skills and knowledge they need to study Bible on their own. The Bible program focuses on biblical text and makes use of rabbinic and modern commentaries that help to illuminate what the text meant in its original context. Students experience the diversity of genres found in biblical text. Students are provided with support materials, a reference library and access to their teacher to assist them as they work to master the text. Following chevruta study, students gather together to review their work and discuss the text.
The Jewish Thought curriculum includes a year-long seminar for juniors. The seminar focuses on Jewish law, Conservative Judaism, leadership and comparative religion. The year-long course for seniors is called Modern Jewish Thought.
Because Rochelle Zell is affiliated with the Conservative Movement, the program takes into account that texts have a history and are understood differently in different contexts. Throughout their four years at Rochelle Zell , students learn to access the biblical text, to make use of standard biblical references and to explore traditional and modern commentaries. Our students graduate with strong textual and interpretive skills, a familiarity with key reference guides and the experience of successful learning.
Rochelle Zell provides a welcoming environment for students of every Jewish movement. At Rochelle Zell there is no correct answer to questions of theology and belief. Our exploration is open ended—questioning and reflection are stressed. Students are encouraged to be open to the ideas and perspectives of others whether they encounter them in text or in discussion. The staff attempts to break down the borders between academic subjects allowing students to make connections between what they learn in Jewish studies and in their other classes.
The Jewish studies program is organized into three parallel programs of study. All three programs contain challenging high school level courses.
The English-based program is designed for students who are attending a Jewish day school for the first time or for day school students who struggle academically in either Hebrew language or Jewish studies. Courses in this program are taught in English. Course materials, with the exception of primary texts, are also in English. Materials are provided to support the study of texts in Hebrew.
The Regular program is designed for students who graduated from the eighth grade of a Jewish day school. The language of instruction in this program is Hebrew and course materials are also in Hebrew. Our expectation is that Hebrew will be used at least 70 percent of the time.
The Honors program, which currently exists only in the Talmud department, is designed for students who graduated from the eighth grade of a Jewish day school and have a strong command of the Hebrew language. Our expectation is that Hebrew will be used at least 95 percent of the time.
The 12th grade Jewish thought course also has an Honors section that is designed for students who are at a high level of fluency in Hebrew, have strong text skills and are good critical thinkers.
Did you know?
-Rochelle Zell was a pilot-school in the “Standards and Benchmarks for the Teaching of Tanakh in a Jewish Day School” project; a national initiative of the AVI CHAI Foundation and the Melton Center for Jewish Education.
-In addition to its focus on skill building, the Talmud program challenges students to reflect upon the rabbinic process, the values that underlie the textual discourse and the ways in which the themes contained within the text are applicable in their lives.
-Rochelle Zell graduates who continue their Talmud study in college have been placed into high level Talmud courses at universities and yeshivot.
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