Jewish study and prayer develop identity, intellect, and the spirit; therefore, a Jewish journey is part of the Davis Academy journey. Davis students experience the warmth of weekly Kabbalat Shabbat services, feel excitement when receiving his or her own Siddur (prayerbook) in Second Grade, feel pride and accomplishment when reading Torah, and often become spiritually transformed during the Eighth Grade trip to Israel. Jewish art adorns our stairwells, decorative locker boards celebrate the bnei mitzvah, Jewish values are present in guidance and counseling lessons, Jewish and Israeli holidays are celebrated at school. Students have the chance to explore, deliberate, cultivate, and celebrate their Jewish lives.
As a Reform Jewish Day School, The Davis Academy fosters progressive and liberal attitudes towards Jewish practice. The Judaic Studies program seeks to empower students to see themselves as part of the unfolding narrative of the Jewish people. Students are encouraged to ask questions of relevanceand meaning as they explore the depth and breadth of Jewish history, text, and tradition at this critical time in their lives.
Judaic Studies classes involve intensive discussions, in addition to creative and reflective assignments with a focus on Jewish identity and relevance. Throughout their year, they learn how to consult Judaism as a body of wisdom that can help them make difficult decisions and choices in their present and future lives. Parents are encouraged to take an active interest in their child’s Judaic education by asking questions, engaging in conversations, and learning alongside their child.
Tefilah (Jewish prayer) is a meaningful time for Davis students. Lower School students gather for tefillah (Jewish prayer) and Kabbalat Shabbat on Fridays,when all families are also welcome. Middle School students gather for tefilah three days per week, and each week we honor students who are becoming bnei mitzvah by inviting them to chant Torah at our weekly Torah service (parents and family are invited). “Kabbalat Shabbat” features not only music but also includes student and faculty performances and speeches, visits from community rabbis, and a host of other activities. We use Mishkan T’fila, the prayer book of the Reform Movement.
Hebrew study begins during the Mechina or Kindergarten year and is a central component of The Davis Academy education. Countless studies show the cognitive benefit of second language acquisition. Hebrew Studies focus on Modern Israeli Hebrew. Hebrew is a vibrant language that has roots in ancient Semitic languages but continues to develop. It is one of the most dynamic languages spoken in the world today. Our Hebrew Studies courses utilize NETA, the best curricular materials available for Hebrew language instruction. Used in hundreds of schools around the world, including Israel, NETA seeks to meet students where they are at by teaching language in the context of topics and subjects that students are interested in such as sports and art. When students celebrate Shabbat in Jerusalem on the first day of the Israel trip, many are moved to tears by their ability to speak and understand Hebrew.