Our Ann Spak Thal Hebrew School doesn’t just train youngsters to become Bar or Bat Mitzvah. We guide children, and adolescents, through a liberal arts-style study of what it means to be a Jew in the 21st Century.
Our students come together from various backgrounds to pursue a Jewish journey of history and the present day, roots and traditions, language and literature, ethics and values. Our dynamic teachers encourage students to express themselves in different ways and to ask questions, which they themselves learn to answer. Our graduates treasure lifelong memories of their Hebrew School experience, including:
- A Hebrew curriculum that celebrates the language as both ancient and modern, used for both religious services and daily conversation. Our program teaches students to read Hebrew fluently, in part through leading services and regular participation on the bimah.
- Hebrew classes are focused on the liturgy, with time allotted for students to build their modern Hebrew vocabulary and skills. Our students develop a high level of literacy in both Hebrew prayer and pop culture.
- A whole year of study of Midrash and Tanakh through biblical text, music, stories, theatre, cooking and baking, games, and arts and crafts. We bring biblical stories to life through challenging questions, thoughtful reflection, and fun!
- A multi-dimensional connection with Israel that develops camaraderie and critical thinking, pride and probing analysis.
- Field trips to see Jewish performances, perpetuate Tikkun Olam through social action with civic partners, explore museum exhibitions that touch on the Jewish experience, and visit significant Jewish sites in Philadelphia and across the Mid-Atlantic region.
- Guest speakers from the U.S., Israel, and Europe who are experts in a wide range of fields. For our older students in particular, these speakers often add a unique element to the study of sensitive, controversial, and challenging current events.
- Ongoing engagement with the rabbi and cantor, who participate regularly in celebrations, commemorations, and discussions. Our students’ interaction with our clergy ensures that prayer and song are not relegated solely to Shabbat and holiday services.
- A school closely integrated into the life of the synagogue, truly functioning as part of the community.
The program begins with Sunday School for pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade, continues with Hebrew School two days a week through 7th grade, and a post-Bar/Bat Mitzvah Hebrew High, meeting once a week, culminating with Confirmation in 10th grade. When enrollment allows, we offer a post-Confirmation class for 11th and 12th graders. Some of our finest teachers have been graduates of our program, a rewarding way for alumni to contribute to the Society Hill Synagogue community.