Judaics Studies

Ohr Chadash has designed its curriculum to give students access to relevant knowledge, concepts, and skills to inspire them to be committed Jews, interested in learning more about Judaism, as well the tools and skills to be able to further their Jewish learning. To facilitate this, we have created a framework for students to learn about Chumash, Torah Sh’bal Peh (Mishna/Gemara), Halacha, Chagim, Navi, and Biur Tefila. Each year of middle school, Ohr Chadash will have a theme running loosely through the Judaic curriculum. This theme is manifest primarily in the halacha, as well as Mishna and Gemara class, and will be highlighted through special programming during the year.

Chumash – Through a skill-based approach to Chumash and with a goal of creating independent learners, students will critically analyze the text. Skills built through the program used in the elementary school will be reinforced working towards enabling students to break apart words and decipher the meaning on their own. Attention will be given to developing skills in understanding Rashi and other commentaries.

Mishna – Following the Mishna component of the online program Gemara Berura, students will analyze Mishnayot by dividing, classifying, and connecting (DCC). They will learn the process of identifying the various components of a Mishna (כאמדט) and using common vocabulary, skills, and strategies to understand the content of the Mishnayot. Students will learn the history of the Tanaim. They will also learn that Mishna is part of our תורה שבעל פה (Oral Torah) and is an integral part of our contemporary Jewish practice.

Gemara (Boys) – Students continue to build on the analytical skills of dissecting, classifying, and connecting components of Mishna and applying those skills to the Gemara. Students use Gemara Berura, an online tool to teach how to analyze and dissect a Gemara. This system, together with the teachers, help students learn vocabulary, skills, and strategies to construct meaning from the Talmudic discussions and develop the foundations to become independent learners.

Halacha/Chagim – The Halacha course will also be the time time when students engage in learning about the chagim. As chagim approach, the class will focus on themes, halachot, and concepts related to each of the chagim. During the other parts of the calendar, this course will explore a particular area of halacha, providing hands-on, experiential learning to explore both the philosophical underpinnings as well as the practical “how-to” for each year’s topic.

Navi – The Navi class is designed to engage students in discovering the נבואה שהוצרכה לדורות (the eternal messages) canonized in Tanach. Students will become familiar with the narrative and focus on themes through each perek. The Navi class shares time with the Biur Tefila course.

Biur Tefila – In this course each grade focuses on a different section of our daily davening and explores the meaning of the tefilot. Students use translations to explore themes running through each tefila and connect those ideas to their personal lives. Experiential and creative approaches enable students to develop individual connections to the tefilot. This course shares time with the Navi class.

Ivrit – The topical learning of Ivrit allows students to explore different topics in Ivrit. Students will be given differentiated grouping to work on literacy centers that include listening comprehension, word work, games and conversations. The centers will integrate videos, technological apps and game play to focus on everyday speech and grade appropriate grammar. Some of the topics that the students will focus on include jobs, food varieties, transportation, time, and body parts. Various grammar rules such as makor and beinoni pau will be developed. The goal is to create literate students who will be able to carry on basic conversations about the topics they have learned and previously learned. Students will have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Hebrew language as a living language that brings together and engages Jews from all countries.

General Studies

Language Arts – Students have a chance to further their skills on structural and word analysis, fluency, reading literature, literary elements, informational texts, writing, language, and research. In conjunction with Wonders in sixth and Collections in seventh, students will be reading a variety of literature novels, completing projects, and working on note taking and presentation skills.

Math – With built in inquiry labs, students will have the opportunity to explore, solve, and critically think about the following math concepts: ratios & rates, fractions, decimals & percents, multi-digit number computation, integers, coordinate planes, algebraic expressions, inequalities, functions, geometry, and statistics. While students will have a separate math class, a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) approach will be taken in many areas and all math concepts will be infused into the (science) STEM program.

Science – By using a STEM approach and the NGSS standards to teach the sciences, students will have the opportunity to study all areas of science which include Physical sciences, Life sciences, and Earth sciences. All lessons engage students in authentic and meaningful scenarios that reflect the practice of science and engineering as experienced in the real world and provide students with a purpose (e.g., making sense of phenomena and/or designing solutions to problems). This approach to learning also develops deeper understanding of the practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts by identifying and building on students’ prior knowledge. Students will participate in flipped classroom activities as well as in lab work with a variety of materials.

History – In sixth grade, students will focus on World History and in seventh grade, students will end their adventures through World History by discussing the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and follow this with the start of American History. Many assigned literature books will have a history genre in order to create an integrated language arts/history approach. Jewish history will be infused throughout the year as well, with a concentration on holocaust studies relevant to the sixth and seventh grades.

Study Skills – Study skills and social skills will be infused throughout the students’ day. Students will be taught the following:

  • How to organize their class’s contents
  • How to understand and navigate their assignments
  • How to prepare their homework for the next day
  • How to maximize their time
  • How to work together

Extra Programming

Guest speaker – Each month, the students will have a lunch & learn with a guest speaker from the community or beyond. The focus for these lunch & learns will be on developing and furthering leadership skills in order to become leaders within the community.

Partnership with JCN – Throughout the year, students will participate in a number of chesed projects with JCN. Students have been given a calendar that details the events in which they will be participating in. With a focus on chesed, students will further their understanding of mitzvot and what it means to be a part of the klal. Please see the calendar at the end of the packet.

Student Government – Middle school students will have the opportunity to be President of the Student Council. The Student Council President will have a range of responsibilities that will help the entire school community. He/she will have the opportunity to work closely with the administration to help solve school/student issues.

OCA News –  Students will have the opportunity to be a part of the first ever OCA News. Jobs include a news anchor, interviewer, and project manager. Students who want to participate will sign up through googledocs and film a week before the news is aired. News will be aired twice a month. Students will enjoy filming in front of a green screen and learning the ins and outs of being on camera.