Our flagship high school program takes place every Monday night from 6:00–8:30 p.m., with dinner included. Click here to subscribe to the high school Google calendar.
6:00–6:30 p.m. — Dinner
If you ask a typical Jewish teen to name a Jewish food, don’t be surprised if their answer is… pizza! Why? Because that’s what temples have been feeding their hungry teens for decades — it’s easy and filling. But at Beth El, we take a different approach.
Dinner is not an addition to the education teens receive at Beth El, but a part of it. Our dinners are planned, cooked, and served by our own teen community, who not only find great joy in doing so but also take great pride in it. Our dinners are homemade, healthy, and nutritious, and even offer something for our teens to take home with them — new cooking skills.
6:30–7:30 p.m. — Community Learning
During the first hour, the entire high school joins together to learn about a topic related to the Hebrew calendar and the Jewish holidays. Each one-hour session is led by Rabbi Josh Breindel, Cantor Lorel Zar-Kessler, and Director of Teen Education and Engagement Shoni Aronovich on a rotating basis. On several Mondays throughout the year, we welcome special guest speakers to share their expertise with our teens.
This new learning model provides our entire teen population the ability to interact with one another, allowing freshmen to learn from seniors (and the other way around), and for each student to expand their social circle with like-minded peers. In addition, all our students, regardless of grade, have the privilege to study with all members of our talented clergy and staff.
7:30–8:30 p.m. — Siyyum (12th grade)
Our 12th-grade Siyyum class offers our students the opportunity to explore how Jewish life and culture evolved over the generations. Together, we’ll address the powerful questions including “How does Judaism influence my life?” “What will my religious life look life after I leave home?” and “What blessings do I have to share with the world?” We’ll explore a variety of materials ranging from traditional Jewish texts to modern literature and from classic art to multimedia clips. These sources will be used to stimulate discussion and to inspire engagement in our concluding projects.
The year will culminate with the student completing their projects for siyyum (celebration of the conclusion of a period of study) – a unique expression of the understanding of their relationship to a Jewish topic of personal interest. The class will also be encouraged to come together to create a unifying group project that will be shared with the community as a whole. Both projects will be undertaken after conversation with the rabbi.
In the spring at the conclusion of Siyyum classes, congregants, friends and family will gather for Siyyum night – a Shabbat service and graduation ceremony. The students will present their final projects and offer them to the congregation as a lasting part of our community’s archives. Our 12th graders’ final presentations have been a highlight of our congregation’s life for many years. This is their opportunity to share with the community not only who they are, but also who they hope to become.
7:30–8:30 p.m. — Themed classes (grades 8–11)
While our seniors are in their Siyyum class, our students in grades 8-11 take part in a class with a different theme every semester. Topics can be more academic or action-oriented, and are typically chosen and driven by the interests of the participating students. Previous classes included creating an Exodus-themed escape room experience, learning modern Hebrew using contemporary American songs, and exploring different Jewish communities from around the globe.