The Westchester Hebrew High School Judaic Studies curriculum focuses on the centrality of Torah in our lives. We strive to make Torah relevant and meaningful, instilling in our students a love for learning and a deep connection to Torah values. Our pedagogical approach includes skill building, questioning and analysis. Students encounter the riches and complexities of Judaism through an analysis of the primary texts of our tradition. Over the course of four years, students gain a solid Judaic knowledge base in Tanach, Talmud, Classical Jewish Literature, and Jewish History.
Additionally, our Ikarim Program in 9th and 10th grade serves as the foundation and decoding mechanism for students during high school and throughout their lives. The Ikarim establish a clear perspective on Jewish history, key events, people and places throughout time, and provide students with an understanding of the Halachic process.
The Chumash curriculum at Westchester Hebrew High School is comprised of a four year cycle covering the Books of Bereshit, Shemot and Bamidbar. Each year, the Chumash curriculum is framed by a number of overarching concepts, “the big ideas.” These ideas, such as leadership and the nature of sin, provide the framework for study of the text and Mefarshim. Students learn to examine text and concepts, to formulate meaningful questions, and to compare the analyses of classical and more recent commentaries. Classroom discussions explore ways in which we can apply what we learn in the Torah to our everyday lives.
The goal of our study of the Nevi’im and Ketuvim is to sharpen the exegetical and literary skills of students and to examine themes such as leadership, prophecy, Teshuva, Chesed and Eretz Yisrael. Through a focus on the latter prophets as well as some of the books of Ketuvim, students understand the backdrop for many important events along the timeline of Jewish history. The Nach commentaries, including Metzudat Tzion, Radak and Abarbanel are utilized to gain further understanding of the text. In addition, students will review relevant topics in Jewish law at the close of each unit of Nach.
Students learn the Tractate of Berachot, Yoma, Kiddushin and Rosh Hashana. Studies include the classical commentaries of Rashi, Tosafot, Rosh, Ran, Ritvah, Maharsha, and P’nei Yehoshua. The depth of study and breadth of commentaries depend on the level of each class. Once a specific topic is covered, Rabbis and students bring the global themes down to the level of Halacha – “What do we do?” Some of the themes that are covered over the course of four years are: Tefilah, Mezuzah, Pikuach Nefesh, Galut and the Jewish calendar. Students gain an appreciation of the Talmud, one of the central primary texts of Jewish thought and law, sharpen their analytical skills, and gain an appreciation for the Halachic process and the continuing thread of Jewish learning from generation to generation.
Advanced Talmud Studies
This is a rigorous course in Talmudic study, taught in Hebrew, in which students finish a full tractate of Gemara in 9th and 10th grades with an emphasis on mastering skills in reading, translating and analyzing the Gemara and Rashi’s commentaries in class and independently. In 11th and 12th grades, the program focuses on the twelve main ש”ס sugyot, and builds on the reading and oral skills cultivated in previous years. Students hone in on analytical skills when reading the text and Rishonim, with an emphasis on Sevara and in-depth Halachic analysis. At the end of this four-year program, students have acquired unmatched skills, unmatched knowledge and unmatched scholarship. They are true budding Talmudic scholars and are ready to attend some of Israel’s top yeshivot during their Israel year between high school and college.