Judaic Studies

Curriculum Philosophy

Learning at Hebrew Day School is challenge-based, supportive, developmental and dynamic.  Our curriculum is ever evolving; each student and each teacher breathes new life into it, as we believe that every individual contributes to the collective whole.  Grounded in standards and grade-level expectations yet flexible enough to meet and teach all students where they are, our curriculum is continually evaluated, updated and refreshed. High expectations coupled with a supportive environment assist students in moving beyond their comfort zones and rise to the challenges before them. Our multiage classes naturally offer opportunities for students to collaborate, communicate, teach and learn from one another. Our emphasis is on process: the process of thinking, the process of developing skills, the process of understanding.  This is the process of learning.

The social and emotional development of our students is nurtured through a strong commitment to educating the whole child and is supported by an intentional culture of collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity.  Collaboration is explicitly taught yet naturally integrated, as students work together within and across grades.  It requires flexibility and a willingness to assume shared responsibility. Communication is understood to be about articulating ones thoughts clearly in oral, written and nonverbal formats. Communication is also about listening effectively. At HDS, these communication skills are taught in both languages. Critical thinking is essential for students to analyze and evaluate problems from multiple perspectives. It is also about making connections between ideas. Our students think critically in both languages. Creativity leads to innovation and expression. Our students develop their creativity by taking risks, celebrating productive mistakes and sharing who they are with the rest of the world.

Hebrew Day School gives its students the inspiration, tools and competencies needed to be confident and engaged participants in Jewish life.  Through a pluralistic lens, our students develop an understanding of Jewish texts and practices, a facility with the Hebrew language, and a connection to the State of Israel as we guide them to find their own place and voice within our tradition.  Our dual curriculum ensures that the Hebrew language is taught as both the modern and biblical language of our people.  An unmistakable sense of community and a collective sense of investment in the responsibility of raising the next generation of Jewish citizens is what you will find when you call HDS home.


The idea of Hebrew as a second language begins with the observation that fluency in any second language adds a rich dimension to a person’s education.  Learning a second language at a young age enables learners to become competent and secure in their skills.  Beginning with the first day of Gan, our students interact with and learn Hebrew daily, making it a natural part of their lives.

Some of the amazing things our students accomplish during their years at Hebrew Day School are the abilities to learn to read, write, speak, listen, present and think critically in two languages.  Our Hebrew and Judaic studies teachers are on the cutting edge of standards integration as evidenced by a commitment to implement appropriate parts of the English Language Arts standards of Common Core State Standards in their Hebrew and Judaic classrooms.

As a unifying thread of our rich heritage, Hebrew is taught as a living language as well as a necessary component in the study of liturgy and ancient Jewish texts. They develop the ability to think, question, and make connections.  By learning and speaking Hebrew, our students strengthen their relationship with the Jewish People and with modern Israel

Judaic Studies

Confident, competent, connected.  An HDS student lives a rich Jewish life at school by engaging in meaningful rituals, joyful holiday celebrations and deep Torah study.  Students gain the confidence necessary to read Hebrew texts, express themselves, ask questions and delve deeply into the curriculum.  Students develop a strong connection to the State of Israel through meaningful cultural experiences.

As the only Jewish day school in Ann Arbor, HDS draws students from families from the widest variety of Jewish observance.  Through this experience, students learn not only to respect diversity, but to expect it.



Hebrew Day School teaches its students to identify ethical and socially responsible behavior as expressions of authentic Jewish values. When our students and graduates think about what it means to be Jewish, they think about Jewish holidays and rituals, the Hebrew language and their personal connection to the State of Israel. Just as quickly, they think of imperatives such as giving tzedakah, loving their neighbors as themselves, and proceeding always on the understanding that every human being is equally created be-tzelem elohim (in God’s image).


Students feel connected to their school community through the common bonds of a shared heritage and the ability to learn and explore it together. This community is enhanced and extended through participation in community t’filot (prayers). In the lower elementary grades, students use song and movement to learn both keva (the reliable routine of prayer) and kavanah (the personally felt meaning of prayer). As students move into the upper elementary classes, they take active leadership roles in t’filah and participate in a weekly Torah service. They learn Torah trope and try their hand at writing their own divrei Torah (commentaries).

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