Middle School Jewish Studies

Jewish Studies

Department Philosophy

The goal of Tarbut V'Torah's Jewish Studies Department is for students to create an authentic Jewish self. This process begins in Middle School by asking students to investigate the history of the Jewish people during times of turbulence and change. Specific attention will be paid to the transitions that the Jewish people make from desert nomads to empire builders, from Israelites to Jews and from strict readers of Torah to flexible, expansive and interpretive readers of Jewish text. Middle School learners emerge from their Jewish studies experience with an understanding of how the Jewish people and Judaism have evolved and adapted over time to meet the needs of God, the Jewish people and the social context in which they lived.

Tefillah

Tefillah and Kabbalat Shabbat are the Jewish bookends that anchor a Middle Schooler's week. Middle schoolers greet their week and weekend with a mixture of prayer and song that seeks to marry tradition with healthy doses of experimentation. Each Middle School tefillah experience incorporates readings and ideas that encourage students to question and challenge while remaining curious and joyful. Prayer experiences incorporate 8th grade "Divrei Torah," ensuring that our students are continually connected to the rhythm of the Jewish week and year.

List of 3 frequently asked questions.

  • Grade 6

    Jewish Studies 6: From Empire to Expulsion
    The Triumphs and Tribulations in Early Jewish History. After two short overview units covering the major steps in Jewish History and the narrative flow of the Torah, this core Judaics course begins where the Torah ends, covering a period of time in Jewish history from 1250 to 586 B.C.E. Through an in-depth study of the most famous selections from the books called Neviim Rishonim, students will travel from the banks of the Jordan river to the hills of Jerusalem. Students will then accompany the Jewish people as they walk mournfully towards the city of Babylonia into exile. During the year, students will focus on the Israelite narrative from empire to exile through the lens of their own personal transition from Elementary to Middle School.
    Grade Level: 6
  • Grade 7

    Jewish Studies 7: From Crisis to Continuity: Judaism's coming of Age
    As 7th graders themselves come-of-age in the Jewish tradition, they are invited to take part in a year-long investigation of Judaism's own coming-of-age story. This process began during the Babylonian exile as the children of Israel transform from Israelites into Jews. The process culminates with the emergence of Rabbinical Judaism which comes about as a response to the destruction of the 2nd Temple. By investigating the development of Toshba (Torah She Beal Peh/Oral Law), students will come to understand how Jewish life, ritual, laws and customs were able to flourish even while Jews were denied access to their homeland. During the course of the year, students will study specific units dealing with Kashrut, Shabbat, and Jewish environmentalism. Additionally, they will investigate the theological underpinnings that allowed interpretation and development of Jewish law to flourish. How fitting it is for 7th graders to honor their own coming of age by charting Judaism's transformation into adulthood. Seventh graders will also mark their Bar/Bat Mitzvah year by practicing the Jewish ideal of Tzedakah. As a class, the 7th graders will form their very own Philanthropy Board, deciding how best to donate over $3,000 to worthy non-profit organizations.
    Grade Level: 7
  • Grade 8

    Jewish Studies 8: Navigating Independence: The choices we make, the actions we take
    How can we embrace an ancient book, given to a people so long ago, and make the stories and laws within meaningful and relevant to us today? This class challenges students to make space for the voice of Torah when faced with the great decisions of today and tomorrow. During our year together, we'll mine a myriad of Torah stories for meaning, morals and guidance. During our year together, we'll pit Torah stories against each other in order to uncover eternal truths about the values that help direct our lives. During our year together, we'll empathize with the trajectory of our Biblical Heroes in order to understand how their successes, failures and struggles parallel our own lives. Lastly, we'll look at God's relationship with the world of nature, humans and the Jewish people to discover how God's action and interactions can inform our own forward motion. Like the title suggests, this course strives to take Torah out of the arks of our synagogue and off the bookshelves of our home, and place the words and ideas contained within firmly in our hearts.
    Grade Level: 8

Advanced Jewish courses offered through the Samson Center for Jewish Life and Learning

Additional Expectations:
  • Greater Hebrew emphasis during text study
  • Student presentation during Limmud TVT
  • Dvar Torah presentation requirement during Middle School Tefillah
  • Accelerated pace of coverage

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

  • AI Jewish Studies

    AI Jewish Studies 6
    After two short overview units covering the major steps in Jewish History and the narrative flow of the Torah, this core Judaics course begins where the Torah ends, covering a period of time in Jewish history from 1250 to 586 B.C.E. Through an in-depth study of the most famous selections from the books called Neviim Rishonim, students will travel from the banks of the Jordan River to the hills of Jerusalem. Students will then accompany the Jewish people as they walk mournfully towards the city of Babylonia into exile. During the year, students will focus on the Israelite narrative from empire to exile through the lens of their own personal transition from Elementary to Middle School.
    Grade Level: 6
    AI Jewish Studies 7-8: From Crisis to Continuity: Judaism's coming of Age (Year 1 in a 2-year cycle)
    As 7th and 8th graders themselves come-of-age in the Jewish tradition, they are invited to take part in a year-long investigation of Judaism's own coming-of-age story. This process began during the Babylonian exile as the children of Israel transform from Israelites into Jews. The process culminates with the emergence of Rabbinical Judaism which comes about as a response to the destruction of the 2nd Temple. By investigating the development of Toshba (Torah She Beal Peh/Oral Law), students will come to understand how Jewish life, ritual, laws and customs were able to flourish even while Jews were denied access to their homeland. During the course of the year, students will study specific units dealing with Kashrut, Shabbat, and Jewish environmentalism. Additionally, they will investigate the theological underpinnings that allowed interpretation and development of Jewish law to flourish. As an advanced JS class, students will be expected to complete weekly assignments at home. In addition, the faster pace, the emphasis on Hebrew primary source material and the quarterly oral exams will differentiate this class from its non-honors counterpart. Lastly, all 7/8 AI students are expected to write and present an original dvar Torah during Middle School Tefillah.
    Grade Level: 7-8
    AI Jewish Studies 7-8: From Crisis to Continuity: Judaism's coming of Age (Year 1 in a 2-year cycle)
    As 7th and 8th graders themselves come-of-age in the Jewish tradition, they are invited to take part in a year-long investigation of Judaism's own coming-of-age story. This process began during the Babylonian exile as the children of Israel transform from Israelites into Jews. The process culminates with the emergence of Rabbinical Judaism which comes about as a response to the destruction of the 2nd Temple. By investigating the development of Toshba (Torah She Beal Peh/Oral Law), students will come to understand how Jewish life, ritual, laws and customs were able to flourish even while Jews were denied access to their homeland. During the course of the year, students will study specific units dealing with Kashrut, Shabbat, and Jewish environmentalism. Additionally, they will investigate the theological underpinnings that allowed interpretation and development of Jewish law to flourish. As an advanced JS class, students will be expected to complete weekly assignments at home. In addition, the faster pace, the emphasis on Hebrew primary source material and the quarterly oral exams will differentiate this class from its non-honors counterpart. Lastly, all 7/8 AI students are expected to write and present an original dvar Torah during Middle School Tefillah.
    Grade Level: 7-8
TVT Community Day School is a TK-12 Independent Community Day School in Irvine, CA
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