DeReKH Core Curriculum

Eighth Grade

Modern Israeli History               Evan Bernstein


Israel is constantly in the news, but often facts and context are missing.  Together, we will explore the history of modern Israel from early Zionism to the present-day.  Topics will include waves of Aliyah, the War of Independence, the Six-Day War, settlements, peace initiatives, and the global response to Israel.  This course will prepare students to think critically when it comes to the portrayal of Israel in global politics and in the media, with an eye towards objectivity and accuracy.


Tikkun Olam: Our Obligation to Repair the World
Rabbi Michael Kushnick and Rabbi Adam Roffman

As Jews, we are partners with God in creating a world founded on justice and compassion.  Now, as newly responsible members of the Jewish community, it is imperative to understand the obligation we have to our fellow Jews, our city, and our world. To do so, we will study the foundational ideas and texts that compel us to improve the lives of others. We’ll also discuss the limits of our responsibility and how to prioritize our attention and our resources.  In addition to study, this class will include volunteer opportunities locally and prepare us for our trip to New Orleans.  

Ninth grade

American Jewish History and Genealogy
Rabbi Elana Zelony and Rabbi Stefan Weinberg

During our year together, we will study Jewish History with a focus on the American Jewish experience.  We’ll begin by learning about Jewish life in Europe and how and why anti-Semitism led Jews to flee across the ocean.  Students will examine the different waves of immigration to North America and learn about the daily lives of those who began their life anew in the country that became their home.  We’ll also participate in a genealogy project.  Students will be given the tools to research their family tree (which will involve a limited time commitment outside of class hours) and begin to make connections between their family’s personal story and Jewish history. 

tenth grade

Jewish Identity in the 21st Century
Rabbi Adam Roffman

American Jews are proud of their history, their tradition, and their values.  But how we choose to observe our religion, or what we believe about God, or how comfortable we are practicing our Judaism outside of the comfort of our homes and synagogues, can vary greatly depending on our relationship with and understanding of some of Judaism’s core ideas.  Over the course of the year, we’ll have an honest dialogue about the building blocks of Jewish religious and cultural identity. We’ll examine each of these “big ideas” and ask difficult questions about their place in our modern world so that we clarify what each of us believes and why about what it means to be Jewish.

eleventh and TWELFTH grades

Rabbi Michael Kushnick

Year Alef (2018-19)
Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll: Everything You Never Thought You Would Discuss With a Rabbi Before College

As they approach graduation, juniors and seniors will explore a number of activities, behaviors, and ideas that are often a daily part of the college experience.  Each topic will be presented through a Jewish lens.  Students will first study traditional texts that influence our Jewish perspective on each subject and then will participate in facilitated discussions.  This is a very thought-provoking class and presents our students with the surprising insight, diversity of opinion, and honesty of our Jewish tradition.  

Year Bet (2019-2020)
Advocating for Israel: A Sacred Jewish Obligation

Aside from its place in our hearts as the historic and spiritual homeland of our the Jewish people, Israel is the safe haven that helps ensure Jews will never again face the threat of annihilation. But even though Israel makes the world safer for Jews, too much of the world is undermining Israel’s safety with policies that embolden our enemies and propaganda that rejects its legitimacy and our right to self-determination.  In America, college campuses have become one of the front lines of our struggle to cure the world of its ignorance and, at times, belligerence, when it comes to Israel. We’ll prepare students for this challenge by providing them with the perspective and information they need to be advocates for Israel during their college years and beyond.

9th-12th Grade Electives (Subject to Change):


Using the Chai Mitzvah curriculum, Rabbi Elana Zelony of Congregation Beth Torah will engage teens in conversations, text study and reflection on the Middot (Values) that shape our Jewish journey. Our tradition tells us that a full Jewish life involves our head, heart, and hands. This class helps teens to ignite a deeper Jewish engagement and provide continued growth with texts to spark discussions, suggestions for increasing meaning in ritual observances, and examples of volunteer opportunities for each topic that can inspire the group towards creative ideas for social action.

Seeking Spirituality

Rabbi Elana Zelony


Additional Fall Electives:

You Won’t Succeed on Broadway if You Don’t Have Any Jews: Jewish Plays and Musicals Lives of the Shoah

Future Courses Include:
Fifty Shades of Talmud
I’ll Tell You When You’re Older: Bible Stories We Skipped and Why
Now That’s What I Call Israeli Music 70! 7+ Decades of Israeli Hits
Master Chef Jew-nior
Moses, Mohammed, and Jesus: Three Prophets, One God?
Shalom Y’all: A Modern Hebrew Crash Course