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Tanakh

Chair: Ms. Esther Hidary

The mission of our Tanakh department is to create an environment where students experience the beauty and complexity of the Torah, connecting its eternal truths to their own lives and developing the skills, knowledge and critical thinking they need to become independent readers and lifelong learners of this essential Jewish text.

The Tanakh department has three overarching goal sets:

Affective Goals- Internalizing the morals, values and messages imparted by the Tanakh

Skill Goals- Developing textual skills

Knowledge Goals- Deepening the understanding of the content being studied

These three groups of goals work together harmoniously to create a program which is rich in content, rigorous in developing important skills and inspired by the values and lessons that are a fundamental part of the Tanakh.

Freshman Curriculum

The 9th grade Tanakh program is a two semester program. During the first semester we study Sefer Beresheet in depth with the goal of developing students’ textual skills, to hone their ability to read and analyze the text with a keen eye for contextual questions and difficulties. During the second semester students study Sefer Shmuel Alef, focusing specifically on parallel stories within the sefer, as well as parallels to narratives in other parts of the Tanakh. The overarching theme we focus on throughout freshman year is Relationships and we use our analysis of these central narratives to help students develop the nuance needed to connect these texts to their own lives.

Sophomore Curriculum

The 10th grade Tanakh program is a two semester program. During the first semester we study sections of Sefer Bamidbar with particular stress placed on understanding the commentaries of Rashi. Here students learn how to identify textual complexities in order to anticipate Rashi’s questions, and better understand his answers. During the second semester we study Megillat Esther, Megillat Ruth and Sefer Yonah. Throughout the year students are challenged to explore the roles and responsibilities of the individual in society and to analyze the dynamics of chaos and order.

Junior Curriculum

The 11th grade Tanakh program is a two semester program. During the first semester we study Sefer Shemot and Sefer Vayikra. This extended unit begins with an in depth exploration of the Aseret HaDibrot and continues to trace the role of law and worship. Students are asked to read carefully and to make connections between legal abstractions and their daily lives as Jews. During the second semester we study portions of Nevi’im Achronim, in particular the prophecies of Yeshayahu. Some time is also spent learning selected parts of Sefer Tehilim. The second semester offers the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of sophisticated Biblical prose and poetry.

Senior Curriculum

During the Senior year students are able to choose from a wide variety of stimulating courses in Tanakh. Most recently these choices included: Troubling Texts in Tanakh, Traveling Along Avraham's Journey, Exploring the weekly Haftorah, Shelomo Hamelech: From Glory to Downfall, Preparing for the Yerushalmi Exam, and an Advanced Tanakh elective. Each course helps seniors develop critical thinking skills and nuanced textual analyses that will serve them well as they develop the independence to read and understand Tanakh on their own after high school.

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