The Middle School Toshba (Oral Torah, Rabbinics) program introduces students to the world of Rabbinic literature and those who wrote and compiled it. Through their experience in Middle School Toshba, students become conversant in the themes, language, and unique approach of Rabbinic literature. Students learn what Toshba is, how the Oral Torah is related to, and derives from, the Written Torah, and teaches Jews how to live as Jews based on the laws of the Torah. Units dealing with holidays, the history and development of Toshba and the composition of Shas (the six orders of the Mishnah) are key units of each year of Toshba study. In each year, students learn selections from different Masechtot (Tractates) and over time, build capacity for parsing, decoding and interpreting the legal language of the Talmud and later Rabbinic texts. In tandem with the technical skills they build, students delve into the contemporary applications and implications of the texts they study, mining them for personal meaning and relevance.
The Middle School Tanakh curriculum is designed to enhance and solidify student learning about the Torah, and introduce them to the second section of Tanakh, called Prophets, or Neviim. Our focus is on building the skills of both Bekiut, understanding of the breadth and broad themes and organization of Torah, as well as Be-iyyun, the in-depth decoding, translation and analysis of the text. We begin in 6th grade, at “the beginning” with the Creation narrative and complete a survey of Torah in the first semester. In the second semester, students study the first two book of Neviim: Joshua (Yehoshua) and Judges (Shoftim). In 7th & 8th grades, students study the narratives of I and II Samuel; they learn about and engage in a critical study of the transition of the nation of Israel from individual charismatic leaders to a centralized monarchy through the lens of the dynamic, compelling personalities of the first Kings of Israel. In addition to students developing their own voice and perspective with regard to the text, in 7th 8th grades students are increasingly challenged to refine and sharpen their ideas through the engagement with classical and modern commentaries on the text. Throughout all three years of Middle School, heavy emphasis is placed on growing student confidence and ownership in navigating through, finding, and citing chapter and verse throughout the corpus of the Tanakh.