Jewish Studies is integral to the very fabric of RSS. Students learn what it means to be Jewish in a Reform context and are empowered in their Jewish identity. From the early grades, students experience the richness of Jewish ethics, texts, history, and practice at appropriate developmental levels. Early Childhood students focus on the celebration of the holidays, including the symbols, songs and major concepts associated with them. As students mature, they become comfortable reading a variety of Jewish texts including Tanakh, siddurim, and Talmud. Through the lens of Reform Judaism, students learn how to ask questions and debate ethical dilemmas. Older students apply their considerable textual analysis skills to explore the connections between Biblical concepts and modern life.
Students study Jewish theology and examine the role that Judaism plays in their personal identity. The eighth grade trip to Israel is a culmination of students’ ever deepening connection to Israel and Judaism. By the end of their tenure at RSS, students have not only built a solid Jewish foundation, they have also had multiple opportunities to assume leadership roles within the school and have been expected to live ethical Jewish lives.
Hebrew teaching at RSS aims to provide students access to the language that is at the heart of Jewish identity and pride. The vision for Hebrew at RSS is to graduate students who deepen their Jewish identities through the Hebrew language as it is used in Tefillah, Torah, modern Israel and the expression of Jewish practices and values. Children are introduced in the early grades to the alef bet, the Hebrew alphabet, and progress to learn the words for common concepts such as colors, days of the week, shapes, etc. as they explore them in English as well.
Hebrew study continues throughout a student’s time at RSS. Students develop their ability to access a variety of Hebrew texts including Tanakh and rabbinic literature, siddurim, songs, stories, and poetry. Students learn vocabulary words that appear frequently in Torah and also explore the relationships between Hebrew roots and modern Hebrew. Prayers and songs related to the holidays, commemorations, services and Jewish practices are taught as well. Through a spiraling curriculum that complements the Jewish Studies curriculum, students constantly revisit four major pillars: Tefillah, Torah, modern Israel and the expression of Jewish practices and values.