Jewish Studies

Department: Jewish Studies

Milken’s Jewish Studies Program inspires learners to engage with Judaism as a living, breathing practice. Our approach connects students to a shared past and brings them more fully into their present and future. Students engage in the study of Jewish values as they explore rabbinic thinking, cultivate their Jewish identity, and apply Jewish learning to their daily lives. Through the lens of Jewish thought, students gain new perspectives on contemporary issues such as technology, ethics, and social justice.

Course Listings

List of 9 items.

  • Grade 6: Jewish Life, Language + Practice

    This course serves as an introduction to Jewish life and religious practice. Students learn fundamentals of Hebrew language, as well as Jewish ritual, holidays, rhythms, cycles, practices and core values, with an eye towards establishing basic literacy in language and religious practice. Students learn about the remarkable diversity of the Jewish people in the United States and Israel as they examine Jewish life and practice within Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, and Sephardi families and communities.
  • Grade 7: Jewish Text and Traditions

    In this class, students will deepen their understanding of their own Jewish identity by studying biblical texts and Jewish traditions that speak to relevant questions in their lives. Students will apply the Jewish art of asking questionskushiyot- and decipher challenges in a given text in order to develop critical thinking skills and hone the ability to analyze Jewish texts, including biblical and liturgical texts. Through their text study, students will strengthen their ability to articulate and share their understandings, struggles, and beliefs through creative, real-world applications.
  • Grade 8: Beit Midrash

    In this advanced course, students tackle increasingly complex Jewish sources, ideas, and values primarily through a rabbinic lens, cultivating their Jewish identity and applying their Jewish learning to their daily lives and the life of both their Milken and larger communities. After analyzing classical Jewish texts, students add their unique voices to the eternal Jewish conversation and authentically practice its values. This program encourages students to be Jewish leaders on and off campus. They take leadership roles in planning and implementing Jewish holiday experiences for their peers as well as reaching out into our community to bring chesed and tzedek to the larger local community. Students are introduced to a variety of legal and narrative Rabbinic texts which include: the transition from Biblical to Rabbinic texts, Mishnah, Midrash, and an introduction to Talmud.
  • Grade 8: Rabbinics

    In this course, students engage with the study of Jewish values as they explore rabbinic thinking, cultivate their Jewish identity, and apply Jewish learning to their daily lives. As students consider how the Rabbis revolutionized Judaism, they gain insights from our traditional texts of Tanakh, Mishnah, Talmud, Commentaries, and Midrash. Students add their unique voices to the eternal Jewish conversation and authentically practice these values on our Middle School campus and beyond. Topics of study may include teshuvah (repairing relationships), tzedakah, lashon hara (ethics of speech), theology, and taking responsibility.
  • Grade 9: Jewish Law (College Prep and Honors)

    Judaism offers opportunities to transform abstract values into concrete actions; awaken a greater sensitivity to the world in which we live; and add holiness to the mundane. Students dive into the centuries-old conversation of Jewish practice, ethics, and values, tracing the development of Jewish law from its Biblical roots through Mishna, Gemara, Codes, until the present-day. Units explore traditional text and its application in contemporary moral and spiritual life. Topics reinforce the 9th grade theme of building community, and include: Tattoos, Teshuvah, Historical Development of Jewish Law, Parents and Children, the Value of Life, Kashrut, and Shabbat.
  • Grade 10: Biblical Literature (College Prep and Honors)

    Students study Torah with a three-level approach: contextual meaning, deeper applied meaning and commentary, and personal connection. Primary questions include: How do important characters face moral dilemmas and make difficult decisions? What are our responsibilities as human beings and as Jews? Students develop text analysis skills, deepen appreciation of biblical issues and texts, explore the worldview of the Rabbis, and make personal connections to the moral lessons of the texts. Students create commentaries based on close reading of text and selected commentaries. Units include: Foundations in the Study of Torah, “Man, Tree, Woman, Snake”, Cain and Abel, Lech Lecha, Exodus from Egypt, Holiness Codes, The Story of the Scouts, Moses Strikes the Rock, Chumash Literacy, and Deuteronomy.
  • Grade 11: Jewish Ethics (College Prep and Honors)

    This course focuses on three levels of study: skills, analysis, and application. Students learn how Jewish law works, how different movements approach Jewish law, and how halakhah (law) and aggadah (lore) are related. College prep students choose between a focus on social ethics (ethical kashrut, business ethics, and the ethics of war) or bioethics (sexuality, abortion, and end-of-life issues). Honors units of study include: the ethics of social media; the art of caring criticism; justice and generosity; ethics of abortion; end-of life decisions; ethics of war. Students wrestle with contemporary issues, and articulate well- reasoned opinions grounded in interpretations of texts. The course empowers students to make thoughtful ethical and spiritual decisions from a pluralistic point of view.
  • Grade 12: Jewish Thought (College Prep and Honors)

    Students question, investigate, assess and internalize classic and modern texts focusing on Jewish thought, identity and peoplehood. Students develop personal philosophies of Judaism, plans for promoting Jewish continuity and lead sessions integrating textual analysis and contemporary application. This course is rooted in project-based learning including case studies, moot courts and project competitions. The course’s capstone project is the Jewish Futures Conference which challenges students to make meaningful contributions to the future of the Jewish people. Students prepare for a successful transition to college as effective leaders in their communities, knowing where they currently stand on major questions of Jewish thought and identity.
  • Grade 12: Integrated High Honors Jewish Thought/AP English

Moot Beit Din Competition

Yom Haatzmaut & Yom Hazikaron 2023

Where Do Nigunim (Melodies) Come From?

Jewish Studies Department Faculty

List of 14 members.

  • Photo of Jessica Alyesh

    Jessica Alyesh 

    Associate Counselor
  • Photo of Gordon Bernat-Kunin

    Rabbi Gordon Bernat-Kunin 

    Rabbinic Head
  • Photo of Cheryl Cohen

    Cheryl Cohen 

    Jewish Studies Teacher & Faculty Mentor
  • Photo of Sean Herstein

    Sean Herstein 

    Jewish Studies Teacher & Division 9-10 House Leader
    310.903.4800 x4305
  • Photo of Elizabeth Kattler

    Elizabeth Kattler 

    Jewish Studies Teacher
  • Photo of Brett Kopin

    Rabbi Brett Kopin 

    Division Rabbi, Grades 6-8
  • Photo of Candice Levy

    Candice Levy 

    Jewish Studies Teacher
  • Photo of Karmit Lowenstein

    Karmit Lowenstein 

    Jewish Studies Teacher
  • Photo of Jessie Mallor

    Jessie Mallor 

    Jewish Studies Teacher & Tarbut Programming Coordinator
    310.440.3500 x3022
  • Photo of Laura Notowitz

    Laura Notowitz 

    Jewish Studies Teacher
  • Photo of Joseph Shamash

    Joseph Shamash 

    Jewish Studies Teacher
  • Photo of Sara Smith

    Dr. Sara Smith 

    Jewish Studies Instructional Leader
  • Photo of Isabella Teague

    Isabella Teague 

    Israel Programs Coordinator
  • Photo of Max Wasserman

    Max Wasserman 

    Jewish Studies Teacher

Connect With Us

At Milken Community School, we think education is more than what you know. Our School, founded on Jewish values, is about who our children can become and how they can help others become who they might be. Because the world our children will create tomorrow is born in the School we build today, our mission is to educate our children so they can surpass us.
Non-discrimination Policy: Milken Community School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, financial aid, athletic, and other school-administered programs.