Judaic Studies

Judaic Studies

The Hebrew High School of New England offers an extensive Judaic studies program that exposes students to a range of our most sacred texts and ideas. We have a carefully tailored curriculum that supports all students regardless of prior Jewish knowledge and aims to give them the skills to continue their Jewish learning beyond high school. Many of our students attend a variety of gap-year Yeshiva and Seminary programs in Israel.

Students take a variety of classes ranging from basic Hebrew reading to advanced Talmudic studies. Classes include Chumash (Bible,) Talmud, Nach (Prophets/Writings,) Jewish History, Jewish Philosophy and Jewish Law. These classes are enhanced by a stimulating program of informal Jewish education and cultural activities, tzedakah and other community service opportunities.

Chumash (Torah)

Students study texts and commentaries on the books of Bereishit (Genesis,) Shemot (Exodus) and Bamidbar (Numbers.) Additionally, courses are offered on a range of textual skill levels. Students are placed in classes depending on skill level and not grade.

We aim to teach translation and textual analytical skills that allow the students to understand the text and apply the ethical lessons of the Torah to their daily lives. More advanced students will have the opportunity to study Midrashim and commentaries by medieval and modern commentators.

Chumash Course Descriptions

 

 

Talmud (Rabbinic Literature)

The Talmud Department strives to inculcate our students with a recognition of the Talmud’s significance and how its lessons shape every aspect of Jewish thought, Jewish ethics and Jewish law. The Talmud, through its teachings and format, sets the foundation for building successful Jewish communities and instills caring and respect for God’s laws and all of humanity. It ignites a passionate love of learning, fosters higher critical thinking skills and contains within it the knowledge that Jewish leaders require for leading the next generation.

Students learn to engage in a close and accurate reading of the text so that they can witness, for themselves, its logical progression. Additionally, students are required to learn vocabulary words that not only appear frequently throughout the Talmud, but also serve to enrich their understanding of Talmudic discourse. The Talmud, which is unpunctuated, uses specific words that allow its learners to recognize a question or an answer. The students learn the functions of these signal words, thereby, taking responsibility for deciphering the text. We encourage the students to engage in debate and analysis in order to arrive at a deeper understanding of the text and of their peers’ perspectives. In order to facilitate this, students are given the opportunity to study b’chavruta, with a peer, during class time.

Students study a selection of texts from four masechtot (tractates) on a four year rotation. These are: Brachot, Pesachim, Sukkah and Kiddushin.

Talmud Course Descriptions

 

 

General Judaic Studies:

HHNE also offers a range of general Judaic studies for each grade level:

9th Grade Jewish Ethics

9th Grade Nach / Haggadah

10th Grade Nach – Sefer Melachim (The Book of Kings)

11th Grade Jewish History, Philosophy and Law

12th Grade Jewish Law

12th Grade Jewish Philosophy and Ethics


General Judaic Studies Course Descriptions
 

 


Mechina (Preparatory Judaics Program)

HHNE is proud of our Mechina program, which introduces students who have had limited experience with Jewish learning, to the beauty of Torah and Jewish tradition. We cover four primary areas: Hebrew, Bible (Chumash,) Prayer (Tefillah,) and Jewish life, law, and thought, or “general Jewish knowledge” (Yediyot Klaliyot.)

Introduction to Hebrew
We focus on an introduction to textual skills (translation, understanding, and interpretation,) prayer skills and basic conversational abilities. As we progress, we use a common “Ulpan” (intensive Hebrew language course) text, and delve into basic grammar, word construction and vocabulary.

Chumash (Bible)
We study the weekly Torah portion (Parsha) in order to understand the role of the Torah in Jewish life and becoming familiar with the text and how we can interact with it. As Hebrew skills improve, there is emphasis on the text “inside”—teasing apart verses, translating and understanding their context. We also begin to delve into how important commentators such as Rashi and Rambam explain the text.

Tefillah (Prayer)
Focus is not only on building skills in the Siddur (prayerbook,) but also on what it means to pray, why we pray, and how we connect to God. We will also learn about the prayer services themselves, examining their history, their meaning, and how to conduct oneself. Prayer is a central component of what it means to practice Judaism and the Siddur can be challenging to understand and to use during prayer

Yediyot Klaliyot (General Jewish Knowledge)
We engage in a deep understanding of Jewish lifecycle events and how we can incorporate them into our lives. A life which revolves around Judaism is filled with these meaningful life cycle events, as well as guideposts for daily living that govern everything from what and how we eat, to the rhythm of the calendar and holidays, to the marking of Shabbat (the Sabbath) each week.