As "עם הספר/The People of the Book," the study of Torah sits at the foundation of the Jewish People's identity. Beginning with our youngest students, we engage children in a love of narrative and history through Torah study and lay the groundwork for a lifelong connection to the language and text of Judaism.
The methodology used to teach and learn Torah is consistent from grade to grade, spiraling in complexity from year to year. Beyond the learning of the literal meaning of the Torah text, and aligned with our core value of Torah Lish-mah/Learning for its Own Sake, deeper understandings of and formation of personal meaning and connection to the text are what truly inspire the lifelong study of Torah. Therefore, engagement with and practice of parshanut/exegesis are central to our Torah curriculum.
At all grade levels, students are introduced to the weekly Torah portion. Over the years, students revisit the parashot through new and different "lenses" of exploration and analysis, giving them experience with mature and sophisticated approaches to text study that will benefit them across the curricular disciplines.
The rhythm and cycle of Jewish life and experiences are driven by observances and celebrations of Shabbat and the haggim/Jewish festivals. Our formal studies of Jewish life and ritual take the approach of instructing students in traditional knowledge of and approaches to Jewish living. However, as a pluralistic Jewish day school community, we embrace the many paths that our students and families take to integrating Judaism into their lives. Our goal is to build a foundation of knowledge, skills, and modes of thinking that will make them Jewish learners who are comfortable with their choices of observances and affiliations. Alongside the academic aspect of Jewish studies, we strive as well to engender a sense of excitement with and passion for Judaism in our students. Our Sukkah visits, Jewish festival craft sessions, Purim m’gillah readings and carnival, and Yom Ha-atzma-ut celebrations are just some examples how we create a variety of opportunities at each grade level for students to "live" Jewish experience instead of merely "learning about" it. Our school lives and breathes a tangible Jewish ru-ah/spirit, which contributes to the overall strength of our sense of community and the development of personal and strong Jewish identities.
At the CESJDS Lower School, we celebrate and maintain a strong link to our ancient prayer customs through participation in traditional t’filah activities. As a pluralistic community Jewish day school, we offer a diverse program in t'filah education that allows students to connect with prayer practices in a variety of ways. T’filah lessons offer opportunities for students to learn correct nusah/melody, engage in in-depth study of prayer texts, develop a sense of spirituality, and to exercise leadership as shlihei tzibbur/communal prayer leaders.
Our school-based t'filah program includes a variety of participatory elements that allow students to become fluent in liturgy from across the Jewish calendar: daily prayer (including Shaharit and Minhah experiences), Kabbalat Shabbat, Havdalah, Torah Services, and festival-related prayers and blessings.