2023-2024 Curriculum

The Jewish Studies curriculum includes one hour of core courses and one hour of elective courses per semester and is offered on Wednesday evenings. Students must attend two-thirds of their classes each semester to receive credit. Students will be required to make up work to receive credit for their classes if they miss more than two-thirds of their semester. Students will be required to complete make-up work for any Hebrew classes they miss.


8th Grade Core: Jewish History
“Know from where you come, and where you are going” (Pirkei Avot 3:1)
As a people, we feel a strong connection to our past and our traditions. In order to take our place in the chain of Jewish tradition, we must understand the other links in the chain.


9th Grade Core: Comparative Judaism
Students will learn about the major Jewish movements as a means of deepening their understanding of where they fit on the spectrum of religious beliefs. This course is taught by clergy representing each of the major movements.


10th & 11th Grade Core: Understanding the Conflict
The Arab-Palestinian-Israeli conflict is complex. By examining key moments of impact, students will gain a deeper understanding of how we arrived at the current situation. We invite guest speakers from a wide range of perspectives to help us form a more nuanced understanding.


12th Grade Core: Social Issues in Contemporary Israeli Society
What are the important social issues in Israel? How do they compare with issues that Americans are facing? What does it mean to be liberal or conservative in Israeli politics? Students will examine the social issues facing Israeli society today, including poverty, racism, asylum seekers, LGBTQ equality, religious pluralism, and much more.


8th Grade Core: Moral Dilemmas

Students will examine moral dilemmas presented in our biblical texts and discuss their modern implications.


9th Grade Core: Holocaust Studies
Students will study the historical conditions which surrounded WWII and the Holocaust, along with stories of heroism and survival and the American and global responses. They will consider what aspects are unique to the Holocaust and what elements we see repeated throughout history.


10th and 11th Grade Core: Sophomore/Junior Seminar
Students will choose one of three tracks:

  • Beit Midrash
    After a brief introduction to the methodology of chavruta study, students will choose a text to explore in depth with a chavruta partner. Students will debate and ponder the text and look for modern applications of ancient texts.
  • Jewish Social Justice
    After being introduced to a range of social justice issues, students will develop their own projects. Jewish tradition will inform the ways in which we seek to repair the world through real, actionable steps.
  • Confirmation
    An opportunity to prepare for the life cycle event in the Reform tradition.


12th Grade Core: Jewish Cooking
Food is often at the center of Jewish tradition. In addition to learning recipes and kitchen skills, students will discuss the historical context for each recipe as well as the role of Kashrut in Jewish life.


The electives offered vary each semester. Content is based on the expertise of available teachers and student feedback.


Fall 2023 Electives

  • Banned Book Club (MAUS)
  • Growth From The Core
  • Jewish Humor
  • Tzelem: Jewish LGBTQ+ Identity

Spring 2024 Electives

  • Antisemitism in Social Media
  • Jewish Art
  • Jewish Humor
  • O.M.G. (An exploration of the God concept)


Examples of past electives that may be offered in future semesters are:

  • Ask Big Questions
  • Drama
  • Inside Israel: The Stories You Don't Know About Israel But Probably Should
  • Intro to Arabic Jewish
  • Intro to Yiddish
  • Israeli Film & TV
  • Jewish Humor
  • Jews in Sports
  • Judaic Arts - Learn why and how we use Jewish ritual objects and create your own.
  • Life After High School
  • O.M.G. (An exploration of the God concept)
  • Rikudei Am: Israeli Folk Dancing
  • Shvil Yisrael: Exploring Israel
  • Tzelem (A space for LGBTQ+ teens and allies) - The Tzelem program focuses on topics such as healthy relationships, stress, belonging, and identity; sessions also include opportunities to meet other teens and Jewish trans adult mentors and to discuss issues around transition and gender expression. The teens explore the issues through games, art, discussion, and by drawing on Jewish teachings. This program connects Jewish wisdom to social-emotional learning and contemporary understandings of gender and identity to help Jewish youth figure out who they are, develop a moral compass, and relate to others with compassion and respect.
  • Women in Judaism


HEBREW (Elective)
This year, we are again offering optional Hebrew classes at different levels. Advancement from one class to another is expected and encouraged. Students can begin taking Hebrew in the fall at any time during their Midrasha career. Hebrew classes meet twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Email Sam Toso, Midrasha Director at midrasha@jewishmadison.org