Chai School – Grades 7-12

Chai School finds you where you are and challenges you to make a commitment to life-long Jewish learning and living. It’s your Jewish Life. Own It!

  • Students in grade 7 (Gesher “Bridge”) meet as an entire grade once a week on Wednesday night.
  • Students in grades 8 and 9 have the option of electives on Wednesdays from 6:00-7:15 PM
  • Students in grade 10 have the opportunity to take part in Confirmation. In order to participate in Confirmation, students must attend the Confirmation Retreat and participate in weekly classes Wednesday nights from 6:00-7:15 PM with Rabbi Spilker. 10th Graders may attend other classes whether or not they are choosing to participate in Confirmation.
  • Students in grades 11 and 12 have a variety of unique opportunities geared towards their upcoming graduation.

Chai School is all about your Jewish Life!

Chai School stands on three pillars:
Torah, Avodah, and Gemilut Chasidim.

7th Grade

7th grade “Gesher (Bridge)” year: 36 Credits

Chai School recognizes that the 7th grade year is special. This is the Gesher (bridge) year when most students are preparing for and celebrating becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. 7th graders have significant Shabbat service requirements, sefer sessions, and other b’nei mitzvah obligations. 7th grade meets Wednesdays 6:00 – 7:15 p.m.

The 7th grade curriculum is based on Jewish mitzvot and values. Students study and explore values such as Shmirat HaGuf (guarding one’s body), Haknasat Orchim (Feeding the Hungry), Hiddur P’nei Zaken (Cherishing the Elderly), and many more. Students regularly discuss issues of topical concern and how to address bullying and peer pressure in a Jewish context.The 7th grade year also includes a mitzvah project and the opportunity to attend two weekend shabbatonim (retreats).

Sacred Choices Shabbaton
Recognizing the questions that teens have about relationships and sexuality, Mount Zion has adapted the Sacred Choices: Adolescent Relationships and Sexual Ethics curriculum developed by URJ for use in middle school programming. Sacred Choices is a comprehensive curriculum that teaches sexual ethics to teens, recognizing that Jewish values are central when dealing with relationships. The curriculum offers Jewish answers to many of their questions and has been designed to be sensitive to students who may identify as LGBT or are questioning. The retreat is facilitated by trained members of the Mount Zion Religious School, and parents must opt-in on student participation after attending an orientation session. In conjunction with the Sacred Choices curriculum, Mount Zion also uses the Our Whole Lives curriculum, a non-religious curriculum written by professional sexuality educators.

7th Grade School Documents

7th Grade Mitzvah Project 5778

5778 7th Grade Class Lessons

8th & 9th Grade

8th and 9th Grades: 36 Credits each year

8th and 9th graders have the option of electives on Wednesdays from 5:45-7:15 p.m. Most students will take these classes. Additionally, there are many opportunities they may choose for learning within a community with other Mount Zion students and Independent Learning. Students should earn at least 6 Credits in each of the following learning areas during 8th and 9th grades:

  • Israel
  • Holocaust Studies
  • Sacred Texts
  • Arts and Culture
  • Reform Judaism
  • Ethics and Values

Modern Hebrew may count for credit in any area and can be taken through Midrasha at Talmud Torah or through the JCC or other approved venue.

A variety of opportunities may count for the learning areas.

There are exceptions to these expectations for students with an IEP or who need accommodation.

10th Grade

10th Grade: 36 Credits

10th grade is the year in which teens have the opportunity to take part in Confirmation, if they choose to do so. In order to participate in Confirmation, 10th Graders are required to attend the Confirmation Retreat and weekly classes Wednesday nights from 5:45-7:15 pm with Rabbi Spilker. Students must also fulfill their Shabbat service requirements and participate in the evening Confirmation Shavuot Service. Meeting Confirmation requirements will “complete” the 10th grade year.

10th Graders May Attend Other Classes whether or not they are choosing to participate in Confirmation. There are many classes, programs, and opportunities open to all 10th graders. As with 7-9th grades, 36 credits will complete a year for the purposes of Chai School.

11th & 12th Grade

11th and 12th Grades: 36 Credits over 2 years

Recognizing that during 11th and 12th grade many students will be traveling to find a college that fits, engaged in positions of responsibility in their high schools, writing college entrance essays, very busy with their academic commitments, and possibly engaged in paid employment, during these years the credit expectation for a complete year is half that of the previous years.

There are many opportunities at Mount Zion for 11th and 12th graders to choose their own experience.  They can participate in our bi-weekly Sicha class, the Gesher Mentor Program, the Madrichim Program, Choir, the New York trip, Sacred Choices Gimmel (every other year), and Youth Group.  This year, 11th and 12th graders can also apply for the Teen Mifgash Israel Exchange program through the Jewish Federation.  Additionally, 11th and 12th graders who are not teaching during the regular Wednesday Chai School session are also invited to register for elective classes.  Lastly, 11th and 12th graders are encouraged to take part in adult learning opportunities.

Sicha is our class specifically for 11th and 12th grade students.  The class was designed with and for older teens.  Each year the topics change to ensure that no two years are exactly alike.

This year, we hope that together we can create a space for thinking about, talking about, and learning more about some of the real stuff that life is made of. The way we think of it, if life is like a really good meal, Judaism is a collection of ingredients. While, it’s not all of the ingredients, life would taste different without it. This year’s Sicha class will grapple with Jewish text and ideas within the context of real life. Check out the Sicha Syllabus 5778 that was co-created with the teens for this year!

12th Grade culminates in a Friday evening Senior Send-off and Graduation Service on May 18, 2018. One 12th grade student will be invited to deliver the d’var Torah, Chai school graduates receive special gifts, and all seniors will be asked to share their plans for the coming year and receive a send-off gift.

Questions? Comments? Concerns?

Contact Liza Henry, Youth Engagement Director, by e-mail or at 651-698-3881.