The walls of our classrooms extend into the world—nature, art, synagogues, museums, theater, symphonies, opera, and more.
Freshmen begin with a week at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute and Retreat Center in Simi Valley. They build their leadership skills and inter-reliance as a community through team building activities, sports and arts, and Judaic learning. Activities include hiking, challenge courses, mountain biking, art, drama, and yoga. In addition to camp activities, students visit the Museum of Tolerance at the Simon Weisenthal Museum. They speak to people who have suffered from prejudice, including Holocaust Survivors, and work to build their skills in conflict resolution, understanding, and partnership.
Working with Naturalists at Large, a well-established and creative experiential education tour provider, our sophomore class continues to build their skills and learning with more responsibilities and leadership training opportunities. This year we add more personal challenges, including an opportunity to sea kayak, and build a connection to the environment. At El Capitan Canyon State Park and campsite, our students develop their understanding of Bal Tashchit (the Jewish value of not wasting) as they enjoy the unique beauty and bio-diversity of the California coast.
The junior class builds deeper connections to the Land of Israel and to one another during their two week trip through Israel. Engaging historical, cultural, religious, mystical, economic, and environmental perspectives of Israel, our students develop an ever more sophisticated understanding of the complex society and history of Israel. Working with our Israel tour company, Keshet, we make sure our young people experience the diversity of the nation. Our students return with a richer sense of Israeli culture and Jewish history, an increased curiosity about society, and wonderful memories of their experience.
The final year of the curriculum, seniors experience a week of travel and learning across the American South. This tour is led by Etgar 36 which is an American Jewish organization that connects Jewish values and American history to help students develop their social and political voices. We learn about the struggle for civil rights in the 20th Century from the Leo Frank lynching to Rosa Parks, and from the march at Selma to the Freedom Rides. Students also learn about the early years of rock and roll and the profound impact music had in the civil rights movement and the end of segregation. Emphasizing the partnership between many in the African-American and Jewish communities, students finish the trip with a deeper understanding of the Jewish responsibility to care for the oppressed because we too were once slaves in Egypt.