At MWJDS we create an environment where the diversity of Jewish values are taught and respected in daily life at school. MWJDS students are confident in their Jewish identity through practice and purpose. The rhythm of Jewish life influences the school calendar as we learn about and celebrate Shabbat, Rosh Hodesh (new moon), and the Jewish festivals.
Students are exposed to the sacred texts of our tradition through emphasis on the weekly Torah portion, enabling students in all grades to appreciate the yearly Torah cycle. Younger students become acquainted with the major historical figures of the Torah as well as the meanings of Jewish holidays. In the middle grades, students are encouraged to analyze Torah stories in ways that are relevant to their lives and are given opportunities to create their own responses to the stories through drawing, acting and writing.
Through the encounter of the texts of our tradition, we discover insights and wisdom, ideas and practices to inform our thinking and guide our lives.
The Torah Scrolls Project: Demonstrating Mastery of Skills
The combined 5th and 6th grade classes participate in a long-term project in which they read each Torah portion, translate it into English, analyze the content, explore the major themes, and write their own commentary. At the end of the year, this work is bound and individually designed into their very own Torah scrolls. Through this project, the students learn critical thinking, translation and text analysis that will be leveraged in the upper grades for other complex works of literature such as Shakespeare or Steinbeck.
Torah Reading Academy
At MWJDS, we teach our students to read Torah trope (cantillation) to enable them to become proficient students of the Hebrew text. We are so proud that MWJDS students read Torah at our school and at local congregations throughout the community. New Torah readers, grade 3 and up, make their debut at an All School Tefillah.
Prayer provides key moments of personal introspection, opportunities to connect the individual to the world, and a universal language (concepts, words, melody, and movement) that unites Jews in real and global communities around the world. Prayer experiences also provide opportunities for creative explorations of questions of meaning and our relationship to G-d and the world.
Each grade learns and participates in an age-appropriate prayer experience. Younger children engage in a brief service and discussions that can span various topics such as: the meaning of prayers; G-d; our world; and things for which we are thankful. Older children have exposure to more elements of the services and engage in thought-provoking dialogue and debate.
Prayer is even more powerful when done in community. We gather monthly as a school with parents and community members to share a special worship experience. Each class has responsibility to lead sections of the service and individual students prepare to read sections of the Torah. Guest Rabbis and Cantors inspire the MWJDS community with words of Torah.
Jewish Texts and Jewish Living
In addition to studying the Torah, our students are also exposed to many other Jewish texts including Mishnah (e.g., Ethics of the Fathers) during their time at school. Emphasis is placed on Hebrew mastery and the application of biblical grammar to understanding text.
In addition each grade is involved in a unit on Jewish living. For example, our 1-2 grade will be studying Sabbath observance, our 3-4 will be learning about aspects of Jewish foods (e.g., kashrut, ritual use of foods, blessings over foods) and our 5-7 cohort will be studying Jewish lifecycle.
Shabbat & Holidays
Shabbat is a highlight at MWJDS. We prepare for Shabbat on Fridays by cooking, singing, dancing, welcoming a Shabbat guests. Our Shabbat Elective program allows the students to select from various activities each month. Holidays and weekly Shabbat celebrations provides opportunity for families to participate as we explore the unique customs and traditions of our diverse community. Music, cooking, and creative arts enhance our Jewish living curriculum.
Always one of the highlights of the year, in 2013 we had two opportunities to celebrate Purim together: On Friday, February 15, we had an raucous Purim Carnival, led by our Family Connection. Students had fun playing games and making crafts for the holiday.
On Monday, February 25, we returned from vacation week and celebrated Shushan Purim (the traditional second day of Purim for “walled cities” such as Jerusalem). Our 8th grade students chanted portions of Megillat Ester (the book of Esther) and told the whole story in rhyme. Younger students showed off their Purim costumes, and a lively celebration was had, culminating in the giving of Mishloach Manot bags (traditional gifts of food) and by the giving of tzedakah (charity).
Our younger students welcomed Pesach with their own model seder. Students in Kindergarten, First and Second grade all participated in a full seder, with support from our Fifth Grade class. The Charoset was made by our Middle School students, and the older grades had fun painting Kiddush cups or Elijah cups to take home for seder.