Upper 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. To do so, Jewish studies classes ask students to investigate Jewish ways of belonging, living, thinking, creating, responding, (re)acting and interacting. Along the way, Jewish studies classes balance Jewish literacy and Jewish skills to enable our graduates to enter college with the Jewish know how to participate, energize and enrich Jewish life within their community of choice.

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • Grade 9

    Jewish Studies 9: Ways of Belonging
    Ninth Grade Jewish Studies explores the essential question of "Who's a Jew?" through the lens of blood, belief and behavior. The course is structured as follows:
    • Behavior: Through a close reading of the Book of Ruth (mostly in English) students will investigate the role that behavior plays in the historical definition of "Jewish."
    • Belief: For 1/3rd of the year, students will investigate 5 key questions of Jewish theology and hear how 5 guest speakers answer these questions as well. These theology lessons will culminate with the writing of a personal theology paper (to be archived and revisited during senior year).
    • Blood: What role does Jewish ancestry play in determining one's Jewishness? Through the creation of a family film, students will explore their Jewish roots. Students will also investigate how the "Who's a Jew" debate plays out among the various Jewish denominations and within Israel today.
    Students will emerge from this class with a personal, nuanced understanding of the variables used to answer this age-old question and with the ability to textually support their personal definition of "Who's a Jew."
    Grade Level: 9
    Prerequisite: None
  • Grade 10

    Jewish Studies 10: Ways of Living, Thinking and Creating
    Tenth Grade Jewish Studies is the year when TVT students are introduced to serious Talmud study for the first time. Through the study of thematic units like Lost and Found, Overreaching, and the Stubborn and Rebellious Child, students will begin to understand why Talmud study is the "Jewish proving ground" for rigorous, critical and creative thinking. Through exposure to the "Talmud's greatest hits," students will be able to appreciate the Talmud as the ultimate repository of Jewish ideas and ideals. Students will emerge from this class with an appreciation of the Talmud as Judaism's quintessential "pluralism poster child."
    Grade Level: 10
    Prerequisite: None
  • Grade 11

    Jewish Studies 11: Ways of Responding
    Eleventh Grade Jewish Studies is devoted to the spiritual and factual preparation for our end of year Poland/Israel trip. Guided by the essential question, "How have Jews reacted and responded to their historical journey from powerlessness to power," students will explore the history of both the Holocaust and the formation of the State of Israel. By the end of the first semester students will be able to articulate the causes of and the world response to the Holocaust. We'll end the semester by exploring the long lasting theological, political and social effects of the Holocaust. By the conclusion of our semester of Israel study, students will have explored the development of Zionism and the continual attempts towards peace. They will leave the course with the ability to intelligently and persuasively articulate Israel's right to exist in the present and future.
    Grade Level: 11
    Prerequisite: None
  • Grade 12

    Jewish Studies 12: Senior Seminar: Ways of (Re)acting and Interacting
    As students prepare themselves to leave the TVT cocoon, twelfth grade Jewish Studies focuses on how our Jewish Identity and practice influences the way we act and interact with the larger world. Throughout the year, students will hear guest speakers offer their personal theology as students are challenged to formulate and ultimately present their own theology to the larger TVT community. Twelfth Grade Jewish Studies also explores the non-Jewish religious world that students will face as they leave TVT. Developing a sophisticated understanding of Jewish sexuality, ethics and citizenship will help our students navigate towards the Jewish ideal in the world beyond TVT. Lastly, twelfth Grade Jewish Studies will focus on the skills of how to "Do Jewish and Live Jewish" in an environment where living Jewishly requires intention, commitment and "Jewish know-how." Subjects in this area will include:
    • How to Kasher a kitchen.
    • How to create and lead your own Passover Seder.
    • How to make your own challah.
    • How the anatomy of different prayer services varies across different denominations/traditions.
    • How to give tzedakah.
    • How to talk about Israel like you mean it.
    • How to write a dvar torah.

    Grade Level: 12
    Prerequisite: None
  • Jewish Studies Electives

    Online Jewish Studies Consortium
    In order to expand our JS elective offerings, TVT is proud to partner with the Online Jewish Consortium for our 2nd year and offer the following course options:
    • Introduction to Jewish History
    • Mussar: Practical Ethics for Living a Meaningful Life
    • History Makers of Israel
    Successful completion of any of these courses require a minimum of 2.5 hours of online engagement each week. These classes are overseen by Rabbi Light. Students are taught and assessed by their online teacher.
    Grade Level: 9-12
    Prerequisite: None
    Jewish Studies Enhancement
    In registering for this option, you are committing to fulfill a minimum of 10 units in:
    1. Jewish Scholarship.
    2. Jewish Leadership.
    3. Jewish Community Involvement, and/or
    4. Jewish Skill Development.
    You will meet with the Associate Director of Jewish Life in August to create your plan.
    Advanced Jewish Courses Offered through the Samson Center for Jewish Life and Learning
    Additional Course Expectations:
    • Greater Hebrew emphasis during text study components of classes.
    • Student presentation during Limmud TVT - focusing specifically on the conflict of Jewish law and either the Shoah or Israel.
    • Dvar Torah presentation at TVT Board meetings.
    • Accelerated pace of coverage.
    AI Jewish Studies 9/10: From Disagreement to Rebellion (Year 2 in 2-Year Cycle)
    AI Jewish Studies 9/10 explores the concept of dispute and rebellion from the biblical times to the pre-sent. By looking closely at Korakh's rebellion, the sin of the Golden Calf and the audacity of the Daughters of Zelophehad, students will gain a sense of the Torah's stance on the rebel. Through an investigation of the classic debates of Hillel and Shammai, the mishnayot concerning the Stubborn and Rebellious Child, and the life of the Talmud's favorite heretic, Alisha Ben Abuya, students will understand the rebel as change agent. Student will juxtapose these ancient examples of rebels and rebellions with daily "rebel of the day" presentations. Students will emerge from this class with an understanding of a "Jewish Way" to argue as each class participant commits to becoming a "rebel with a cause."
    Grade Level: 9-10
TVT Community Day School is a TK-12 Independent Community Day School in Irvine, CA
Founded in Loving Memory of Naomi Gelman Weiss