Elementary School Jewish Studies

Mrs. Michal Smart has been named Director of Judaic Studies at Bi-Cultural Day School. Photo by Kenneth Appelbaum

Mrs. Michal Smart
Photo by Kenneth Appelbaum

The Judaic Studies Program at Bi-Cultural Day School celebrates Jewish tradition and life. Our school provides pathways for children from all Jewish families into knowledge of Jewish tradition, Hebrew language, ethical values and in-depth study of text. Through Judaic Studies, students gain lifelong skills in textual interpretation and analysis, debate and logical thinking, empathy and conflict resolution. Our program produces graduates with a depth of Torah knowledge, proud of who they are, enriched by Jewish values and personally connected to Israel.

Bi-Cultural teaches each child to value him or herself as a unique individual, to respect others, and to “be a mensch.” We are concerned not only with what students learn but how they behave and who they become. BCDS children learn mitzvot and appreciate how Torah guides us in making the right decisions and in dealing respectfully with each other, our teachers, our parents and our environment.

At Bi-Cultural, each morning starts with tefillah (prayer), so students begin their day feeling grounded, thinking about what lies ahead and what matters most, and integrating spirituality into their life and daily routine. As a school community, we also recite blessings before and after eating, teaching children to be mindful and grateful for what they have. Jewish holidays are celebrated in the classroom and at school-wide events, including Yom haShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day for fallen Israeli soldiers) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day).

In our school’s Early Childhood Center, children are introduced in a warm and loving way to Jewish holidays, traditions, values and Hebrew language. Through song, movement, art, stories, games, nature study and an array of experiential activities, each child’s knowledge and Jewish identity begins to grow.

In our Elementary School (grades 1-4), our students explore the book of Breishit (Genesis), learning all the stories of the matriarchs and patriarchs and the beginnings of our people. Our program employs the wonderful curriculum of Tal Am, which integrates Judaic Studies and Hebrew language. Each classroom is an immersive Hebrew environment, at an age when young children’s brains soak up language effortlessly. In special milestone ceremonies, students celebrate receiving their very own Siddur (prayerbook) in first grade and their first Chumash (Torah) in second; singing and dancing with pride and joy for everyone present–parents, siblings, grandparents and teachers.

Bi-Cultural welcomes families from all backgrounds and levels of observance. Throughout their years here, students learn to respect Jews who practice differently than they do and most importantly to see themselves as part of Klal Yisrael, one united Jewish people, each of whom is responsible for the other. All of our graduates are empowered with knowledge of Jewish tradition and Hebrew language, with a strong and positive Jewish identity, and with the ability to join Jewish communal observance and feel a sense of belonging and comfort. They graduate with the ability to make thoughtful and educated decisions about who they want to be as individuals and as Jews, and inspired to make the world a better place.

Contact:  Mrs. Michal Smart, Associate Principal, Judaic Studies