Israel Studies

Students in URJ Heller High participate in their own Jewish studies course. This course exposes students to Israeli history and modern community through a Reform Jewish lens. The course includes classroom hours, and over 20 tiyulim (trips) across israel to learn from the people and land.

Throughout the semester our goal is to thoroughly acquaint our students with the history of the Jewish people, its culture, and its land. Israel as the birthplace and the center of that history throughout the ages is the ideal place to teach and demonstrate the development of the people, culture, and land. By combining classroom and field study, students witness in a “hands on” manner the flow of Jewish history.

The method employed for this course is an interdisciplinary core curriculum in which students study history during 70 class days, 25 of which are spent at sites which reflect the period of history under investigation. All classes and field trips are based on the reading of primary source material from the appropriate period and group discussions. Students are expected to take notes during hikes and are examined on the presented material.

A core curriculum teacher is appointed to guide students through all of Jewish history.  The content of the class draws upon the following disciplines:  Archeology, World Literature, Comparative Literature, English Composition, History, Sociology, Geography, Comparative Religion, Western Civilization, Political Science and Physical Education. As Israel: Land, Cultures and People covers many disciplines a student’s transcript may reflect the grades and credits earned in these subjects under either a reciprocal or specific course heading.

During this portion of the program, a variety of themes are addressed in seminars and extensive field trip experiences. Students explore a range of critical issues facing Israel and the Jewish people. Students meet personalities representing a wide range of positions and are challenged to understand the complexities of these issues. Issues explored include the Arab Israel conflict (Jewish and Arab perspectives), peace plans and possibilities; Religion and State: the origin of modern Israel and its religious implications, the position of Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Judaism in Israel, the Muslim and Christian communities; the Ingathering of the Exiles: Israel as a Jewish homeland: Sephardic, Ashkenazic, Yemenite, Ethiopian and Russian Jewry; New directions in Zionism: what does the future hold?  Israel Diaspora relations; the political nature of Israel and developments in the Middle East.

Receive college credit for the Heller High Jewish Studies Course Heller High School – Gratz College