Home Contact Us Site Map
Student Life and Judaism
As a pluralistic Jewish school, SDJA offers your child a diverse perspective on Judaism. It is the goal of San Diego Jewish Academy to engage our students in learning about the rich traditions, history and experiences of the Jewish people. In so doing, SDJA seeks to create a positive, Jewish learning experience for all of our students and to instill in them pride their Jewish heritage. SDJA wants its students to graduate with an understanding of Jewish beliefs, values, concepts and traditions. SDJA seeks not only to instill academic learning, but also empower and inspire our students to apply the Jewish character values they learn in thier everyday lives.

At SDJA, we take to heart the Rabbinic teaching, “On three things does the world stand: Torah, Avodah and Gemilut Hasadim, each being central to our Jewish educational philosophy.

Torah
(teaching, study): In the context of our school, we view TORAH as encompassing the teaching of the broadest aspects of Jewish civilization. This includes classical Jewish texts as well as Jewish literature, history and culture, Hebrew language and the State of Israel. SDJA wants its students to be able to apply the teachings of Jewish texts to contemporary issues and to each student’s individual lives. Wherever possible, relevant Judaic content will be integrated into the general studies curriculum.

Avodah
(literally "service" and often translated as "worship") denotes ritual skills and practices that have the capacity to nurture the spiritual dimension, including tefillah (prayer) and observances related to Shabbat and the Jewish holidays. SDJA want its students to develop an understanding of and competency in these skills and practices, and to appreciate the capacity of these observances to enrich ones life and nurture ones own soul.

Gemilut Hasadim
(Deeds of Loving Kindness) are the Jewish teachings and practices regarding our ethical responsibilities to our fellow human beings. SDJA wants its students to internalize the value of derekh eretz (respect toward others), Menschlichkeit behavior (a person of good character) and the responsibility of participating in Tikkun Olam (repairing the world). The goal is for SDJA students to view their Jewish heritage as a meaningful guide for ethical living in a complex world.

As a pluralistic school, we recognize that our students and their families reflect a broad spectrum of Jewish backgrounds and practices. We seek to engender respect and appreciation for the various approaches to Judaism and, at the same time, to emphasize that our Jewish heritage is a common bond that unites all Jews. The following Judaic subjects are taught to our students K – 12:

Hebrew
The Hebrew language program at San Diego Jewish Academy is taught through the immersion method (ivrit b’ivrit) whereby the teachers speak in Hebrew and the students ideally do the same. By using the immersion method, students acquire the desired language skills more effectively. SDJA seeks to have students develop facility in understanding, speaking, reading and writing Hebrew. It is also believed that Hebrew is the key that opens the doors of Jewish learning and connects us with Jews past and present. It is both the language of classical Jewish texts – from the Tanakh (Bible) to the Siddur (prayer book) and the modern, living language that unites us with Israel.

Tanakh
An integral part of the Judaic Studies curriculum at San Diego Jewish Academy is the study of the TANAKH (Bible)* because it is the source of the spiritual history, literature and values of our people. It is the foundation of our Jewish civilization and the source of the ethical and ritual MITZVOT (commandments), which have been central to Jewish life throughout the ages. It is the record of what the Jewish people have understood as the basis and meaning of the covenant between God and the Jewish people.

We teach both the simple, literal understanding of the text as written (pshat) and the interpretive understandings of the text (drash) at appropriate grade levels, always maintaining the distinction between the two. While both are integral to the study of Torah, teachers are expected to distinguish between them when teaching Torah to their students. Through the study of classical and modern day commentaries and interpretations, alongside the literal text, SDJA encourages its students to analyze, interpret and internalize the original text as it relates to their lives today, and to use it as a guide for their lives in the future.

As a pluralistic school, SDJA recognizes that the students and their families reflect a range of perspectives on Torah. As a community school, we acknowledge a variety of perspectives in our teaching and share this with our students in age-appropriate ways. We concentrate our studies on the content and meaning of the text.

Jewish Holidays
San Diego Jewish Academy strongly believes that observing the Jewish holidays enhances Jewish life on a consistent basis. To that end, each year students are engaged in studying the meaning and observances of Shabbat, Rosh Hodesh, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simhat Torah, Hanukkah, Tu Bishvat, Purim, Pesah, *Yom Hashoah, Yom Ha’atzmaut, Lag Ba’Omer, and Shavuot through a variety of teaching methods and practices. In addition to this, and with the assistance of SDJA’s PTO, the school is able to provide unique opportunities for the students to mark these special occasions on the calendar with various special programs and activities so they can actively experience each of the holidays in both a formal and informal manner. Through SDJA’s holiday programs, students learn that Judaism is rich in tradition and culture and that Jewish holidays are yet another link that connects us to one another and to each new generation of Jews.

*Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) is taught age appropriately to third grade – twelfth with great care and sensitivity.

Israel
Recognizing the significance of the State of Israel, its national institutions, and our strong bonds to the land and the people of Israel, we seek to instill in the students a connection to Israel as well as a sense of responsibility for its future. Students are regularly involved in learning about various projects in Israel and help to contribute to worthy organizations such as Yad L’Kashish (Life Line For the Old), A Package From Home, Alyn Hospital and Magen David Adom. Additionally, over the past five years, we have developed a very strong connection to San Diego’s sister community in Israel, Sha’ar HaNegev. Teacher exchanges, high school student exchanges, student pen-pal writing and Sha’ar HaNegev’s inclusion in various SDJA programs have helped to strengthen our relationship with the elementary school in Sha’ar HaNegev and give SDJA students and faculty an opportunity to connect with the people of Israel on a very personal level.

Tefillah
Tefillah links Jews from the past to the present. Students participate in prayer services on a regular basis. During this time, students learn both the kevah (fixed words and times) and kavannah (meaning and intention) of the prayers for the weekday and Shabbat service with the ultimate goal of students being able to navigate their way through the siddur in a synagogue setting and be able to obtain personal meaning and spiritual experiences during these prayerful moments.

Jewish Life and Thought
Building a foundation for Jewish ethical living is integral to the curriculum of San Diego Jewish Academy. The school teaches these values through a unique approach that includes a wide range of Jewish perspectives about our relationship with one another, our relationship with God, and our responsibility as Jewish individuals. Embedded in this curriculum are projects that help our students put these Jewish values into action. SDJA views this aspect of the curriculum as a unique opportunity to focus on many different aspects of Jewish culture, history and theology, providing students with a strong foundation in their Jewish identity.

San Diego Jewish Academy | 11860 Carmel Creek Road, San Diego CA 92130 | (858) 704-3700 | info@sdja.com
Copyright © San Diego Jewish Academy. All rights reserved
Staff Only