Teen Programs




Zayin (7th grade) Mondays & Wednesdays 4 – 6:15 pm

This year the Zayin class curriculum will include a new program (Teen Engage), while still meeting twice a week.  The goal is to support our students as they prepare for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah while continuing their Jewish education. On Mondays, students will focus on tefilah skill building, Hebrew reading fluency and preparation for their B’nai Mitzvah with Rabbi Adam and Cantor Cohen. Families can opt to have individual B’nai Mitzvah tutoring on Mondays during school.  Zayin will also be studying Modern Hebrew and  Modern Jewish History, including the Holocaust and Israel. On Wednesdays, students will participate in our Teen Engage program. See below for more details.


Teen Engage (7th – 8th grade) Wednesdays 4 – 6:15 pm

Shaarei Tikvah Teen Engage is a post-Religious School program for students in grades 7 and 8.
Teen Engage is an elective-based curriculum combining Rabbi Adam’s Jewish Debate Club (JDC) with experiential Jewish educational opportunities. JDC is based on traditional and historical text study. Topics include, but are not limited to: technology and innovation, religion in the public sphere, death and the afterlife, dietary ethics and prayer and ritual.

The school year is broken up into four modules, offering students a choice between two electives for each module. Track A is the Jewish Debate Club facilitated by Rabbi Adam Baldachin and Track B is an experiential track facilitated by Liat Friedman, our Youth Adviser. Over the course of the year, students will select a total of four tracks, one from each module, either JDC or experiential.

Students will spend the first hour of Teen Engage in their chosen track and the second hour with our resident Shinshin. A “shinshin” is an 18-year-old Israeli emissary sent by the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for a gap year before their mandatory military service. The Shinshin brings ruach Yisraeli [Israeli spirit] to the students with whom they work. The Shinshin will supplement and reinforce students’ class studies as well as provide informal programming to build Jewish identity and educate students about Israel

Module 1 (9/13 -11/15)
Track 1a: Jewish Debate Club 
At JDC (Jewish Debate Club) teens will debate topics of importance to the Jewish people. These topics will range from current political debates based on core Jewish values and issues related to identity, to historical and textual debates echoing the voices of our ancient scholars spanning temporal and geographical settings. While Rabbi Adam will introduce Jewish texts and the voices of well-known intellectuals to add depth to the discussion, the primary goal is to cultivate the voices of the students as leaders of the Jewish community.


Track 1b: Israel Defense Forces/Krav Maga 
Students will explore the Israeli Defense Forces’s national service from the perspective of an 18 year old. Away from their homes, families and friends, these individuals undergo a demanding, yet inspiring journey that reveals the core of who they are and who they want to be. We will learn how these young men and women are defending not only their homes, but also the values of peace, equality, opportunity, democracy, religious tolerance and women’s rights. Students will also participate in several introductory training sessions of the Israeli hand-to-hand combat and self defense methods of Krav Maga. This program includes the background history and origins of Krav Maga as well as an overview of the various branches of the Israeli Defense Forces.


Module 2 (11/29 -1/17)
Track 2a: Jewish Debate Club
See above description for Module 1, Track 1a.


Track 2b: Serving our Community (volunteering throughout Westchester/Bronx)
An opportunity to connect to the community through acts of chesed (kindness). Participants will create mitzvah projects inspired by the Jewish value of tikkun olam (repairing the world) by volunteering at soup kitchens, senior homes and local shelters. Students will sort clothing at Kids Kloset in White Plains, visit Blythdale Children’s Hospital and serve dinner at the Bronx Jewish Community Council Hannukah Party. Teens may earn community service hours for the time that they volunteer.


Module 3 (1/25-3/7)
Track 3a: Jewish Debate Club
See above description for Module 1, Track 1a.


Track 3b: Jewish Cooking and Cultures Around the World
A hands-on experience of Jewish food culture around the globe. This course will give students the opportunity to explore, cook, and taste foods from a variety of backgrounds from Ashkenazi (European) to Sephardi and Mizrachi (Middle Eastern), as they delve into the history of the Jewish communities from these cultures.


Module 4 (3/14-5/18)
Track 4a: Jewish Debate Club
See above description for Module 1, Track 1a.

Track 4b: Jewish Food, Farming, & Environment
Students will learn about sustainable agriculture rooted in Jewish traditions.  Contemporary food and environmental issues are explored through innovative training and skill-based Jewish agricultural education. We will address the injustices embedded in today’s mainstream food systems and work to create greater access to sustainably grown foods, produced from a consciousness of both ecological and social well-being. Student will plant their own garden.


Moving Traditions: Rosh Hodesh group for girls

Rosh Hodesh meets one Sunday per month, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm.
Led by Sarah Doar 

Rosh Hodesh is an experiential education program currently touching the lives of 3,500 girls across North America.
This program uses Jewish teachings and practices — in a five-year cycle of curricular materials — to give girls a place to feel safe, articulate their deepest concerns, consider the impact of gender on their daily lives, have fun, and be ‘real’ with their peers.

Through discussion, arts & crafts, creative ritual, games, and drama, the girls and their leader draw on Jewish values and a gender lens to explore the issues the girls care about most, such as body image, friendship, relationships, family, competition, and stress.

Rosh Hodesh was developed by educators, rabbis, social workers, and psychologists to address the real needs of teen girls within a rich Jewish context. It was the first program to draw on Jewish teachings and traditions to keep girls healthy and whole, instilling in them the ability to counter narrow views of gender in popular culture.