Big Ideas on the Weekly Parshah

Aleppo Codex

Curriculum

  • What can Isaac’s story teach us about dealing with psychological trauma?
  • What role does dream interpretation have in Jewish literature?
  • How do memorials, like the jar of Manna in the Tabernacle, build Jewish self-understanding?

Torah begins with epic family dramas in Genesis and nation-building in Exodus, continuing with laws of holiness in Leviticus, and ending in a grand political episodes throughout Numbers and Deuteronomy.

Students focus on a different parshah each week, following the synagogue cycle. Classes teach students how to ask questions of the text and probe it for answers about morals and values.

  • Textual study – Each class entails reading some verses of the portion in Hebrew and English.
  • Art – “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In our class, pictures help draw out some of the difficulties in understanding the Biblical text. Our class meets the modernist creations of March Chagall & Arthur Szyk, the beloved manuscript illuminations found throughout haggadot and chumashim, as well as classic paintings by Rembrandt and etchings by Gustave Dore.
  • Classic Commentaries and Midrash – Rashi, Rambam, Saadia Gaon, Radak, Sforno, and the sages of Talmud made regular appearances in our classroom, helping us understand traditional Jewish questions related to each parshah. We also explore some of the wealth of parables and stories written to probe the depths of the Biblical text.
  • Modern Commentaries – A number of more modern rabbis also frequent our classroom, including: Samuel David Luzzatto, Samson Raphael Hirsch, Nechama Leibowitz, Abraham Heschel, Ismar Schorsch, & others.
  • Discussion – Each week, students are given a task to continue reflections on the parshah with their families and online with their classmates.

Each week, students participate in an online discussion forum where they post a response to a question about the parshah. They have the option of researching the question and providing their findings, crafting a midrash to enhance the narrative, or showing their understanding of the issue through creative artwork.

Structure

  • Meets weekly via webcam
  • Students interact between classes with peer-to-peer reflections and discussion boards on the parshah
  • Ages 10-12
  • Offered year-round
  • Multiple year cohorts available
Rudy Stoler

Instructor: Rudy Stoler

In 2017, a homeschooling parent approached me with a request to assemble a weekly parshah study group for a group of 10-year-old boys and girls. The students would, we hoped, take the lessons from our study-group with them as they discussed the weekly readings at their family shabbat tables. The students quickly formed close friendships around Torah study and we are now preparing for our third year of studying together (now in multiple groups to accomodate a small class size and flexible schedules) and look forward to celebrating multiple b'nei mitzvah in the coming months!