I was attempting to Google to find an academic reference based on description of the book and this page came up.
It contained this curriculum from the Shalhevet High School in LA. At first, I could not figure out what it was. Then I saw that it is a new “Modern Orthodox education” created by the new YCT educated principal at the school. It is an interesting document. I dont want to get bogged down in the politics of the LA school or the nature of its graduates. The question is not what effect it has there or if it is a good school.
My question is what would happen if such a curriculum were tried here in NYC, with the potential for the best guest speakers? I do not agree with many of the choices but it certainly is interesting. In one of the first issues of Tradition, Eliezer Berkovits gave a vision of an ideal seminary that looked like this.It is also worth comparing to the Jewish Action article by Rabbi Riskin in the 1970’s about what an ideal High School curriculum would look like. is this the start of a good curriculum for our decade?
Here are some selections from the bigger document here. What do you think?
Shalhevet’s Modern Orthodox education consists of the following goals:
Talmudic Jurisprudence (10th Grade)
As the foundational corpus of Jewish and rabbinic knowledge, the Talmud represents the launching point for understanding the role of Halacha in Jewish society. Through textual analysis, students will be introduced to the fundamental principles and ethics that guide the Jewish tradition. Critical attention will be placed on the development of rabbinic authority, the philosophy of Jewish law and practical application.
Major focus will be placed on the Babylonian Talmud and the most popular medieval commentators and codes of law (Maimonides’s Mishna Torah and Rabbi Joseph Karo’s Shulchan Aruch).
Students will also be exposed to the Twentieth Century’s most prominent theologians, philosophers and rabbis, including Professors Eliezer Berkowitz and Louis Jacobs as well as Rabbis Joseph B. Soloveitchik and Moses Feinstein. Additionally, students will explore classic Talmudic case law and precedential responsa. Students will also be responsible for integrative analysis of seminal US Supreme Court cases with Jewish law.
Contemporary Modern Orthodox Issues (11th Grade)
After having spent a year learning about the nature, function, process and procedure of Jewish Law, the students are now ready to investigate the rabbinic views on contemporary issues. Is religious Zionism sanctioned by our greatest scholars or is it condemned? What is the role of women in the modern age? How does Jewish Law react to modernity? As in the previous year’s Gemara class, the major focus will be on the Talmud Bavli and Rambam’s code of Jewish Law, the Mishnah Torah. With regard to religious Zionism, we will study the views of Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, Rabbi Avraham Isaac Hakohen Kook and the Satmar Rebbe. While examining the role of women in Halachic life, we will study prominent religious thinkers such as Rabbi Sperber, Rabbi Henkin, Rabbi Soloveitchik, Rabbi Berkowitz and Rabbi Meiselman.
Halacha Beyond High School: Hashkafah of Modern Orthodoxy (12th Grade)
In the first semester, we will survey, analyze and discuss seminal texts of the brightest thinkers of the Orthodox world from the past two centuries who have contributed to the self-generated definition of the “Modern Orthodox” community. We will investigate three major areas of Jewish thought: the interaction with western culture, Zionism, and women’s issues, through readings from Rav SRS Hirsch, Rav DZ Hoffman, Rav A Hildesheimr, Rav Y Kalischer, Rav S Moheliver, Rav Y Alkalai, Rav AY Kook, Rav YB Soloveitchik, Rav Y Amital and Rav A Lichtenstein, among others.
Biblical Exegesis (11th Grade)
In this advanced course on the study of the Hebrew Bible, students will study the tri-partite division of Tanach (Torah, Prophets and Scriptures) and reasons for inclusion in the Biblical canon. We will then investigate the various approaches of the yeshiva and the academy to Tanach study. This course will explore the issues of authorship and textual transmission through the lens of Professors Julius Wellhausen and Karl Heinrich Graf as well as Professors Umberto Cassuto and Kenneth Kitchen. Particular attention will be placed on the Documentary Hypothesis, scholarly responses to the Hypothesis and Orthodox Jewish homiletic responses. Additionally, we will study Ancient Near Eastern texts, such as the Laws of Eshnunna and the Code of Hammurabi, and compare and contrast them to Biblical narratives and law.
In addition to the above scholars, we will also expose the students to the philosophical thought of Jean Astruc, Jon Levenson and Louis Jacobs as well as Orthodox scholars, Rabbis Yoel Bin Nun, Hayyim Angel, Jeremy Wieder, Shubert Spero, Mordecai Breuer and Dr. Tamar Ross.
This course also will emphasize the medieval exegesis methodologies of the French school, Rashi and his grandson Rashbam, as well as the Spanish school, led by Avraham Ibn Ezra and Nachmanidies. The students will then take this knowledge and apply it to the study of a particular sefer from Nach.”
Political Theory of Modern Middle East (11th grade)
This course covers the political, philosophical and religious considerations that affect international Middle East policy. Students will study contemporary regional affairs and political theory through the lens of current events. Students will be exposed to influential thinkers including Ruth Gavison, Yoram Hazony, Sari Nusseibeh, Michael Melchior, Michael Oren, Dennis Ross and Edward Said.
Jewish Philosophy & Law (12th grade)
How does Judaism address the great existential questions of the human condition? Students will engage in a sophisticated dialectic that includes in-depth study of the philosophical works of Maimonides, Spinoza, Kant, Bentham, Kierkegaard, Hirsch, Kafka, Kook, Buber, Soloveitchik, Berkowitz and Sacks. In this course learners will confront such quintessential questions as creation, revelation, ethics and secular philosophy, the problem of free will, justice and the existence of evil. Upon completion of the course students will be able to articulate the ontological, epistemological and axiological foundations of Western thought and Modern Orthodoxy.